Meningitis in your words

Adam 's story

  • Location: Ireland
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Young Adult 20-25
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects

I will be running '3 Marathons in 3 weeks' (Dublin, New York and Athens) for a world free from meningitis and septicaemia.

Most friends and family will know that in 2016 I had bacterial meningitis, a disease that I knew absolute nothing about nor did I realise how much of an impact it would have on my life.

Thanks to the outstanding work carried out by the likes of the Meningitis Research Foundation, I was lucky enough to pull through and walk out of hospital with minimal side effects after an extended stay in hospital.

Many people, of all ages, do not come out as lucky as me and sadly many people succumb to meningitis. A common misconception about meningitis is that 'it's not meningitis unless there's a rash'... I once believed that myself, I know different now.

After spending a full day nursing what I thought was just a sore neck & back and signs of flu, I went to bed for the night. About 4am I wake up to find that my neck has lock to the left and that the light is hurting my eyes. Instant 'Oh Sh*t' moment. I took some painkillers and tried to sleep it off... At about 5am I could barely open my eyes fully and felt so strange, I called my Mam who took me to an Emergency 'D-Doc'.

"Every speed bump we crawled over in the car shook through my body leaving me in agony, not to mention the contortion required to get me sitting upright in the car in the first place!"

So I'm home all day in agony, no sign of pain or confusion dissipating when my Dad receives a phone call from our family GP who he'd been trying to reach that morning. My dad describes my symptoms in the exact same manner as we described to the D-Doc, almost immediately he is able to recognise that these are signs of a meningococcal infection (bacterial meningitis) and recommends getting myself to hospital immediately.

To cut a long story short, I got to hospital, diagnosed immediately, all sorts of invasive tests and was placed in isolation. Initially they thought it to be just a viral strain which would be the 'lessor of 2 evils' I suppose, but after 3 days in hospital they discovered that it was in-fact bacterial. Yeah I was pretty heartbroken as I'd spent the whole night beforehand reading about both and knew how bad things could get with the bacterial strain.

During the long period in hospital, I was stubborn about my condition, I found it difficult to sit still in a bed all day. The recovery from meningitis is a long one - I knew nothing yet... When I was finally released from hospital, I was so happy to be able to walk away from such a traumatic experience, I was thankful to every single family member, friend and medical staff member around me.

"I was very wrong. It took me weeks to build up my strength to be able to go for a proper walk. Any form of exertion lead to headaches and instant lethargy. "

In my eyes I was off now home to chill out for a couple of days and get back to work to save for a few upcoming trips and a big move to Canada. So yeah, I was wrong ... I was very wrong. It took me weeks to build up my strength to be able to go for a proper walk. Any form of exertion lead to headaches and instant lethargy. The weeks and months following getting out of hospital were a complete struggle, trying to do everyday tasks became a challenge. As a long distance runner, I loved a challenged, I loved pushing my body that extra little bit. Meningitis pretty much sent me back to square one. I never thought I'd run for 10 minutes again let alone complete a marathon.

That year I completed the Dublin Marathon in my worst time, but it was a run I am most moved by. I will never forget the mental push I needed to cross the finish line after the 42km dash. The relief was unimaginable.

Meningitis has left me with a number of awkward side effects that have made my professional life slightly tricky, but the most important to me is resilience. I've learned that resilience will get you through any situation no matter how tricky it can be.

Since meningitis I returned to college (which I found extremely difficult), began my career in aviation and travelled solo around the world from West to East.

Today I am preparing to complete 3 marathons in 3 weeks (in aid of MRF) and hope to continue to challenge myself, raise meningitis awareness and help where I can!

Adam Bruton
September 2019


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