Donate online today. €40 funds 1 hour of a research project

meningitis & septicaemia can kill in hours!

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

Rebekkah Hemingway

Bacterial Meningitis at 18

Bacterial Meningitis

I was on study leave in May for preparation for my final year to sit my A-level exams which were to take place in June/July 2010.

Although I couldn't remember anything about getting ill after I had woken up, now small pieces have come together in my mind. I went into college at the end of May and remember walking through the corridors of the 6th form building and my tonsils felt really inflamed. I have suffered from tonsillitis a couple of times before and just assumed it was that.

The next thing I remember is being taken to the NHS Direct centre by my sister and being sent home with tonsillitis and got told to rest in bed. I slept all day without raising to go toilet, eat or drink and it all seemed like a blur. The next thing I remember was trying to throw up in the toilet and being very 'out of it'. I remember nothing else after that until I woke up in hospital and was told I had contracted bacterial meningitis. Apparently I had woken up through the night and was screaming in pain and trying to fight against everyone and had to be put under by the paramedics.

I spent a total of ten days in hospital; three in intensive care on a ventilator; then on the high dependency unit, and finally on the neurology ward. When I woke up I was left with long sixth nerve palsy (which basically meant I looked boss- eyed and had extreme double vision) so therefore had to wear an eye patch for four months and had to use a wheelchair for around three months to get about comfortably.

My memory was terrible when I first awoke, and although I recognised a few family members, I didn't know what year it was or that I should of been sitting my exams and leave for university in September (which never actually happened as I didn't get awarded dispensation from exam boards). Even now I find it really difficult to concentrate, and to remember small tasks ... like meeting up with someone for lunch or what time to start work, and all the days seems to be muddling up into one.

Although I physically look better now, as I no longer have to depend on a wheelchair or wear an eye patch (I still have to see the ophthalmologist as it's still not fully recovered), I still do not feel 100%. Every weekend after work I come down with a cold or a chest infection, I can sleep for whole days without waking up for food. When I drink alcohol I feel and have been told I seem like a different person and get nasty unlike before I fell ill. I am still also waiting to see an audiologist as I strongly believe I have lost some hearing in my left ear.

Meningitis has definitely changed my life, and although I appreciate that I have come out of it better than other people, I can't help but feel like I am not the same me before I got ill. I now have no desire to go to university, I just feel as though I am at a dead end!
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