Nikki Craig

Meningococcal disease at 23

Meningococcal disease

Nikki talks about having meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia

I woke up on Friday 1st January 2010 at around 11am feeling very ill with flu-like symptoms. I was extremely warm but I was shivering uncontrollably, my head was pounding, my throat was sore and my whole body felt stiff. I could barely move. I took some Beechams flu tablets and went back to sleep. I woke up again around 2pm feeling much worse and couldn’t stop vomiting. I felt weak and breathless.

Around 3pm my mum rang the out of hours emergency doctor but they did not call back. I lay all day on the sofa thinking I probably had flu, or possibly even swine flu. I took paracetamol and ibuprofen but nothing seemed to help, I felt worse and worse as the day went on.

At 8pm my mum rang the out of hours emergency doctor again, as she was getting worried. She was told he was unavailable for house visits. Meanwhile she had been researching my symptoms online as it seemed impossible for anyone to be this ill with flu. I was exhausted and weak and so I went to bed in the hope that I could sleep it off and wake up feeling better in the morning.

At 9pm my mum came to check on me and asked me several times about all my symptoms. She did not mention so at the time, but she feared I may have developed meningitis. She got me out of bed immediately and drove me Ulster Hospital A&E (5 minutes away). I could barely walk, my body was so stiff and sore and the lights in A&E were unbearable. I was taken straight through to Triage, my heart rate was dangerously high and I had a temperature.

The doctor came to assess me. I couldn’t stop vomiting, my head was pounding and heart racing. I thought I was dying. I had now developed slight purple bruising on my stomach. The doctor suspected I had meningitis but could not be 100% sure until he could carry out a lumbar puncture. Meningitis is so dangerous; it can kill in hours and so as a precaution the doctor started treatment immediately by intravenous antibiotic drip; this was around 10.30pm.

I was taken up to the Medical Assessment ward in the hospital at 2am. The nurses monitored me throughout the night, taking my blood pressure and temperature every hour. On Saturday 2nd January (the next morning) I woke up to find my body covered in a purple rash – SEPTICAEMIA. Around 11am the doctor arrived to perform a lumbar puncture (fluid is drained from the spine) to determine if the illness was meningitis.

Around 2pm my illness was confirmed as Meningococcal Type B Meningitis and Septicaemia. I responded well to treatment and spent 11 days in hospital.

I am making a good recovery and have good days and bad days. I have since returned to work and I am determined to make the most of my life as it so easily could have been taken away from me. I am extremely lucky to be alive today and could never thank my mum and the doctors enough for taking such initiative and saving my life.

I am becoming involved with Meningitis Research Foundation and am keen to help out with fundraising, as the support my family and I received from MRF has been invaluable.