Donate online today. €375 funds the helpline for half a day

meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

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

Laura Jones

Viral meningitis at 37

Viral meningitis

It all started with a day at the zoo and a piggyback ride...

I am 37 years old and I got viral meningitis in August 2008. It is March 2009 and I am only now feeling quite fit and well. It took a lot longer than I ever imagined to recover from this viral illness...

A family trip to Dublin zoo was planned, 6 of us piled into the jeep and we all had a great day out.

My little boy was tired going back to the car from the zoo so I gave him a piggyback ride. In the car I got a headache and by the time we got back home at 2.45pm it became worse so I took the strongest tablets I had. They made me sleepy but I felt no better. It was difficult to mind my boy as I felt pretty awful and drowsy, well so when his dad arrived to pick him up at 6pm (we are separated) I was relieved. My neck was sore by now but I had decided that I had strained my neck giving the piggyback and that was why I had the headache and neck ache...

When Rory was gone to his Dad's house, I went to my parent's house next door on the hunt for more painkillers as I felt I needed to get on top of the pain, and after that I went to bed.

I woke at about 6am. I felt really dreadful and was immediately sick all over the bed. I knew I was very unwell, I could hardly move as I seemed to have frozen up (neck stiffness in hindsight), I had pain in my head and ached all down my back. I felt sick from head to toe, I had no idea what was wrong (at this point I should say that I am a nurse!!!) and that I needed to tell someone. I tried to make phone calls but couldn't get the numbers in the correct order so I kept misdialling. Eventually I got through to my dad who called the doctor out to me. It was a Saturday morning and she arrived pretty quickly. She called an ambulance and said I may have sinusitis but it may be meningitis (I think she was trying to not scare me!!). This may sound crazy but I felt too sick to go to hospital, all I wanted to do was curl up and be really still and block out the world - the thought of sitting in a casualty waiting room was utterly unthinkable. The doctor persuaded me and off I went in the ambulance.

Thankfully, in hospital I was looked after immediately, they were so good to me. They diagnosed meningitis after a scan and lumbar puncture. I spent eight days in hospital. My biggest problems were the photophobia and phonophobia. The only way to deal with light was to press a soft jumper I had with me hard over my face and eyes to block out the light and stay under the covers in a dark room. I couldn't bear sound at all except for 'low' sound.

Getting better took seemingly forever. In the early days (September, October), some days I was able to function, some days I was stuck to my bed or sofa feeling pretty rough. I had five migraines a month until January, and now I only get two a month and they are nowhere near so bad. My phonophobia took until the end of November to go away fully, in the meantime I laugh as I remember wanting to carpet the walls, floors, tables, cutlery, keys, glassware just to deaden out sound! My concentration came back like a Christmas present as I started reading again properly at Christmas.

I had given up work in June of 2008 to take a year out. If I had to do the job that I had, then realistically I shouldn't have gone back to work until December sometime. Knowing me, I would have gone back too soon and really really struggled ...

The Meningitis Research Foundation gave me great support anytime I called them for advice, they said it may take some time to recover and I think I didn't really accept that as I was in a rush to be better quickly. However they were right, it takes time, and in time I got back to a good feeling of health.

 

Need Support? Find out more about our helpline services

Tell your story

Help raise awareness, share your story in the Book of Experience

Meet us on Facebook Meet us on Facebook