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meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

People who are faced with meningitis and septicaemia have to act fast to help save a life.

Kelly Falk

Viral meningitis at 22

Viral meningitis

My name is Kelly Falk and I am 22 years old. I'm from Minnesota and was headed on a spring break vacation to California on March 14. Upon waking up the next day at my uncle's house in Orange County, I had a pretty bad headache and felt sluggish. I tried to suck it up and go shopping on Sunset Strip.

After an hour drive, we arrived and as soon as I got out of the car I new it was a bad idea. With every step I took it felt like a sharp knife was being jammed into my upper back. I could hardly walk because of this. We turned around to go to an urgent care doctor. They took a strep test, which was negative but they said I had a slight fever so they gave me an antibiotic and some pain medication.

 The next day I was in severe pain and couldn't touch my chin to my chest. My head was killing me, I was extremely sensitive to light and sound and my energy was gone. We went into the ER and they ran some blood tests and gave me fluids. They discovered I had mono and gave me some more pain meds and sent me home.

The next day I began to vomit continuously every half hour to the point where I was vomiting bile. We went to the ER again and this time they gave me fluids and more pain medication but sent me home without anymore answers.

On the 17th of March all of my symptoms were getting worse, especially the back pain. We went into the ER for the third time. This is when they finally decided to do a lumbar puncture to test for meningitis. My spinal fluid was clear in color meaning that it didn't look like bacterial meningitis. The test came back positive for meningitis and I was emitted to the hospital. My mom and dad flew out to California to stay with me, which was a life saver. I couldn't imagine being there alone.

I was first treated as if I had bacterial meningitis while they ran tests and cultures for about the first four days. I also had a CT scan, ultra sound on my liver and a MRI. All tests came back negative so it was determined that I had viral meningitis and no permanent brain damage.

I was hospitalized for seven days and experienced excruciating head pain and light and sound sensitivity. I was given dilaudid and vicodin to manage the pain. After they released me from the hospital my mom and I stayed at my uncle's for a few days before flying back to Minnesota.

The flight went ok and I was finally home on March 28. Since then, I have had a few follow up appointments and been in the ER once. Although I am better than I was in the hospital, I don't feel like I have improved much. I am still on a high dose of pain medication and experience severe head and spinal pain when it wears off. My most recent blood tests show an elevated level of liver enzymes. My doctors said that this could be from the mono or the medication I am on. Since they have been elevated since I was diagnosed, I am scheduled to see a gastrointestinal specialist next Thursday. I am still bed-ridden much of the time.

This disease has forced me to sacrifice a lot of opportunities, which is incredibly frustrating. I am a college student and only because of the grace and understanding of my professors, I will still hopefully graduate in May. I also had an awesome internship at a marketing and technology company since January. I've had to miss about a month an a half there now and fear that I'm blowing my chances of a full time offer. I had plans to study abroad in China this May, which I also had to cancel.

I am currently on day 43 of my illnesses and am emotionally drained. I feel helpless and fear that I will never get better or that I will have long term damage or symptoms. This is with out a doubt the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I can't even describe the extent of the physical or emotional pain that comes with this disease. The only thing that seems to help is having a strong family support system by your side.

KELLY FALK
APRIL 2014

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