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Zoe Jeanes

Meningococcal disease at 18 at the time, now 23

Meningococcal disease

It all happened five years ago. I was 18 and was enjoying the party lifestyle. Going clubbing, staying out till all hours every night and not having a care in the world!

My mum had gone away for the week to visit family in Widnes, Cheshire. At 3am on 18 May 2005 I woke up being violently sick, with a terrible headache and sore neck. My older brother was awoken by this and as I was used to getting migraines, I told him not to worry and to go back to bed.

Later that day, I still wasn't getting better and seemed to be deteriorating. My brother had phoned my mum, who felt helpless to do anything, being so far away. She booked me a doctor’s appointment and my dad and her friend took me along. I couldn't even hold my head up and couldn't stand the bright light in the waiting room. I was seen by the doctor, who told me it was just a migraine and to go home to rest. I had to be let out the back door, as I was still being violently sick!

Once at home, my dad decided to leave me in peace and go back to his house. When he came back round later, I awoke to find the rash! I knew what it meant, but for some reason I wasn't scared. My older brother phoned the doctor on call who said he would ring back... My brother wasn't taking any chances, so called an ambulance. The paramedics were fantastic and even though I was going in and out of consciousness they kept me laughing!

I was rushed into A&E and was surrounded by doctors. Then I remember being told I was going to be put to sleep. I remember screaming for help, as I felt what I thought was a knife going through my head. Then it went black! I was taken to intensive care and put on a life support and dialysis machine. A lumbar puncture confirmed I had meningococcal septicaemia and my parents were told by doctors they didn't think I would make it through the night.

Three days later I was taken off the machines. I don't remember coming out of the induced coma, even now, but do remember having a large needle taken out of my neck (it wasn't pleasant).

I was told by one of the doctors afterwards that if I’d been an hour later, I would be dead. After what's happened, I've been left with the memory of a goldfish, tinnitus in my ears and nerve damage in my ears. However, there isn't a day that goes by when I don't remember how lucky I am!