Meningitis in your words

Beth Hughes's story

Beth Hughes
I contracted meningococcal meningitis in January 2007 and I was 19 and coming to the end of my first year of nurse training at John Moores uni in Liverpool.

"The spots did not vanish and I remember thinking I’m in trouble"

12pm: feeling fine and went to put flowers on my grandad’s grave (first anniversary) and went to see my other grandad because it was his birthday.

19.30: was in a friend’s house and felt cold, couldn’t stop shivering and felt awful. Had to drive home.

20.00: whilst travelling home I had to pull over and was vomiting aggressively out of my car and this caused me to wet myself.

20:15: arrived home, had shower, told my mum what happened and went to bed.

11.00: mum rang me to wake me up to go to uni but I felt too sick. I remember walking to the bathroom and holding onto the wall (like walking like an old woman) every joint hurting, finding it hard to walk and move.

14.00: mum came home from work, came into my room to check on me but I was still worn out and felt ill.

17:00: got out of bed and went to lie on the couch. Really couldn’t walk and move properly and was cold. Had put housecoat on.

19:00: offered something to eat and I couldn't eat it (which is very unusual for me).

21.00: remember it was after Waterloo Road and my mum told me to get to bed. I couldn’t stand up, my legs couldn’t take my weight. My mum rang the out of hours doctor and a nurse was on the phone. I remember my mum saying yes to every question. Putting on the light and I was squinting and it was hurting my eyes, and then they asked if I had a rash. My dad helped me remove my housecoat and I had a rash on my arms. My dad got a glass and pressed it against my skin, the spots did not vanish and I remember thinking "I’m in trouble". The nurse offered me an ambulance but my dad said it will be quicker if they took me themselves.

21.15: on the way to the hospital, was throwing up into a bucket.

21.25: arrived at A&E. Fast tracked through triage, bp 80/44. Throwing up violently again, a nurse told me to stop forcing it and I shouted at her saying I wasn’t.

Then all I remember was being put into a side room, doctors coming in and out. I was in and out of consciousness. I remember opening my eyes and seeing my dad crying but to this day he doesn't know I saw him. My mum and dad told me that in the early hours of the morning the doctors were saying that I had swelling of the brain, if we do a lumbar puncture this will increase the pressure, it’s up to Beth if she pulls through. If I had gone to bed in my house I would have died.

My parents contacted family members in the early hours of the morning just in case anything happened. I remember feeling cold hands on my face and opening my eyes and it was my grandad crying and I remember saying to him: "what you crying for you soft get?" and I remember other relatives coming into me.

I remember going for a CT scan and trying to stand to move from one bed to another and I couldn’t do it. They had to transfer me using a pat slide. I also remember pleading with a nurse not to insert a catheter. After that they tried to insert an arterial line in my wrist, I just remember screaming and crying and having two student nurses standing over me and trying to calm me down (the arterial line failed) and I always remember the doctor inserting a femoral central line. Again I remember screaming. Then I was transferred to CCU.

I remember the doctor from A&E talking to the doctor from CCU overhead me, saying I might scream I've got a low pain threshold. Then the CCU doctor inserted an arterial line in my wrist.

I remember being in CCU with my parents, relatives and friends coming to see me. I was in CCU for three days. I was then transferred to a normal general ward for seven days. I was so bored on the ward because my head was so sore and my eyes were also sore and sensitive to light. And I did not have good experiences on the ward. (I now know the ward has been shut down).

I have now been left with migraines, a shadow in the centre my right eye (shaped like a fish head), have to wear glasses when I drive, watch telly and when I have a migraine.

I started my second year in uni a month later but two months later I was put back a year due to my illness. I went a little depressed and this affected uni.

I restarted my second year in April 2008 and I have now just recently qualified as an adult nurse in may 2010.

I would like to thank my mum and dad for their quick thinking, they saved my life. And I do realise I am so lucky, and the after effects could have been worse, well worse.

I do still get upset about it every now and again, and it still upsets my mum and dad very deeply but, like I said, I am so lucky to be here. My mum and I give money every month and will continue to support the Foundation.