I came out of hospital in February 2007 after being very ill with meningococcal septicaemia. I do not remember a lot about my illness but do remember my lovely wife Beverley and family always being at my bedside. I don't think I really understood how ill I had been for some time after I had come out of hospital.
Whilst I was in hospital my wife contacted the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) to see what help and support they could offer to us as a family during my illness.
After leaving hospital I started to realise how much my world and that of my family had fallen apart and changed our lives forever. I wanted to talk about what had happened to me, about my injuries, my pain, my feelings and the big question, why did this happen to me? My wife and family were very supportive and tried to help as much as they could. However, there was a constant feeling that I could not talk to them, they had not experienced what I had been through, how could they possibly understand how I really felt inside? I had spoken with MRF on a number of occasions and they asked if I would like to try their befriending service as it may help. I agreed with some trepidation as I was entering the unknown and still felt very emotional about my illness.
I was put in touch with a lady in Bristol who telephoned me one evening. We had a long chat, and whilst her injuries were somewhat different to mine it gave me the opportunity to talk about my experiences with somebody who understood where I was coming from. I put the phone down and felt a weight had lifted from my shoulders and appreciated that there were other people out there with similar problems, long term and potentially life-changing disabilities.
Some months later I received a call from MRF asking if I would be willing to speak to a gentleman who had had the illness a year after me and was wanting to talk to someone.
It turned out that Trevor was of the same age and we had been through very similar experiences and been left with very similar disabilities. His lovely wife Ann and his family had suffered the same hell that my wife and family had gone through, that of nearly losing their loved one. We speak regularly now and have met each other on numerous occasions. I count Trevor and his wife as friends that I shall hopefully have for the rest of my life.
The befriending service has helped me tremendously. Even now I find it an enormous relief just being able to pick up the telephone and speak to Trevor. He helps me and, I hope, I help him come to terms and live with our life-changing disabilities and all that goes with it.
Not only did the befriending service help Trevor and I, it also helped our lovely wives, Beverley and Ann, to share their experiences. I know from what Beverley has said that she too has found strength and comfort in discussing her feelings and how my illness and disabilities have also affected her and our family life. We are both eternally grateful for their support and friendship.