It was Monday the 5th December 2001, I was 32 years old, and I woke at about 3.30am with a headache, took some painkillers and thought no more about it.
When I woke for work at 5am I still had a bad headache, but carried on thinking it would soon get better. I took more painkillers at about 7.30am just before going out on my rounds (I am a postman).
After a couple of hours I came back to the office for more mail, at which point I stopped for a cup of tea; by now my head was very painful, so much so I was having problems with my vision. My manager asked if I was OK to continue - refusing to give in I gathered my mail and set off.
Soon it was clear I was not OK - I started to feel sick, tired and very weak. I stopped at a lady's house where we normally have a cup of tea, but shortly after stopping I told her I must carry on as I didn't think I would make it back to the office.
On my return to the office, my manager sent me straight home. I phoned my wife to say I had come home feeling sick and weak. I went straight to bed; a few hours later my wife phoned to see how I was feeling. I told her I could not get warm and the light was affecting me with a thumping headache. My mother-in-law phoned and said it sounded as if I had a migraine after checking her medical book. By this point my legs and feet were very cold and the pain in my head was starting to get unbearable.
When Heather came home from work she took me straight to my GP, but by this time I was struggling to walk, could barely open my eyes and felt extremely ill. After a short time of waiting the doctor examined me and said he was not positive but thought by the symptoms and pink splotches on my back that it was meningitis. He told me to find my own way to hospital because there were no ambulances in the area as it had gone 5pm, and he phoned the hospital to say I was on my way.
By now I could barely walk, talk or see. With two young children to sort and find a babysitter for - and the thought of getting me to hospital - my wife had to phone her two brothers and prayed that they were in. One lived 19 miles away and the other about five miles away, and when her first brother arrived on a tractor he jokingly said is he still alive!! He was very shocked to see the state that I was in, and tried to get an ambulance. In the meantime my other brother-in-law arrived, and with him being a fireman could see the state I was in, and knew we had no time to play with. They carried me lifeless to the car, as I could no longer stand.
The trip to the hospital was one I had little memory of apart from feeling very sick. When I asked how much further I was told not far, but I knew from where we were we were at least 35-40 miles away from hospital and from that point I gave up. I was told later they were talking and pinching me to keep me conscious.
When we arrived at hospital we were met by a nurse with a wheelchair and a look of disbelief that we had to find our own way there. I was taken to a room and put on drips and monitors, a lumbar puncture was taken which I never felt, and Heather was told if things did not improve it did not look good. It was not long before they confirmed viral meningitis and a second lumbar puncture was taken. The following day they took more tests when it was found it was attacking my pancreas.
After 11 days in hospital and a number of tests I was allowed home. After a few days at home I realised my headaches had not gone away so I rang the Meningitis Research Foundation for some information, and they sent me a very interesting booklet. They also told me that this was a usual thing to happen and could last for a long time, maybe years.
After a couple of months of recovering I felt like doing more, and went back to work after a total of just over three months off. Over the next 12-18 months the headaches continued but gradually got better. I had a couple of bad headaches which put me back in hospital in that period of time. One they thought was meningitis returning and the other that I had some fluid on the brain. I am glad to say that I am now getting back to normal - running, cycling and hockey. I am pleased to be in contact with the Foundation and found all the help I had most encouraging. I have been on a Befriending course, which I found very useful as there were people there much worse off than me.