My next morning routine is to check the emails that come into the Helpline email overnight. While are support services are focussed in the UK, we do receive messages from all over the world, and the questions can be around a whole host of issues. In other countries, they may not have access to free medical care or no medical insurance, and this is something that causes huge anxiety for people who may be showing symptoms themselves or a family member. Today I have a message from a person in America who is concerned for their grandparent who is poorly and showing symptoms of meningitis. In this instance I am keen to advise that they need medical care quickly, and we work closely with CoMO (the Confederation of Meningitis Organisations)
who have support service members around the world, I give the contact details of the local support service and advise to get medical help right away.
I also receive emails from Health Centres in Ireland and Scotland who would like some of our awareness literature to give to their patients. We send many thousands of our Baby Watch, Tot Watch, student posters, and signs and symptoms cards out every year. Many health professionals add them in a new baby pack, and we include them in the red book for new parents – we get lots of feedback saying how helpful people find these.
We also receive ‘Get In Touch’ enquiries that people can make from the website. Today, someone has got in contact to say they are struggling with the after-effects of viral meningitis, which they had in April. This is not uncommon, unfortunately, and I email back offering a phone call if they would prefer that, a kind word to say that they are not alone, and some information around viral meningitis that they may find helpful.
The helpline rings, and it is from someone concerned that while their child has recovered from Meningococcal meningitis, they just do not seem the same as before they were poorly. They are upset over the phone, and it’s important to give time and space for someone to talk through how they feel. I am always conscious that this may be the first time they have picked up the phone to speak with anyone.