Meningitis in your words

Brodie Duncan's story

  • Location: Scotland
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Memory loss
Brodie Duncan

3 years ago, during a gap year in New Zealand, I contracted meningitis.

The trip was the biggest adventure of my life so far. I was constantly moving around, to different places, hostels and different living environments. I was unaware of meningitis and the dangers that it can possess.

The pains in my joints came suddenly, within hours, in fact, making it difficult to walk or do any strenuous activity. Living the life of a backpacker, I was not prepared to pay the bill for a trip to the doctors as it was so expensive and I was already living on the breadline. I had gone to work that first day, refusing to take a sick day as I needed the money. I'm a fiercely independent person but at this time all I wanted was to speak to my parents. Given the 11 hour time difference, I managed to get hold of my family and after hearing my symptoms, they begged me to go to the doctors. My friend who I was staying with at the time had to carry me to bed that night, because of the pain, I just couldn’t move. As I progressively got worse I had no choice. Red spots began to appear over my entire body, I was unable to move, the head pains became unbearable, with a high fever, sweats, vomiting, you name it. This was the scariest part as I had no idea what was happening to me, not to mention living thousands of miles away from my family and friends.

"The whole experience was surreal, and I honestly felt like I would never go back to normal."

It is so important that we raise awareness for meningitis as it is incredibly traumatic, both physically and emotionally. There are several kinds of meningitis and if the right tests aren’t carried out, then it can become easy to misdiagnose with life-threatening and changing consequences. Backpacking is very similar to student life! It’s fun and sometimes stressful. Colds and flu spread easily and diets can be as poor as the bank balance. Moving into a new environment becomes exciting, and we become somewhat naive when living in such a close proximity to other people.

"My story has a happy ending"

Like many others, I had mistaken meningitis as the common flu, and I know I was extremely lucky to be treated straight away. During my road to recovery, I found it difficult to carry on at work and other everyday activities, I would become easily tired and have a lack of concentration. Even now, after so much time has passed I still often struggle to remember a lot of things that happened before I was struck with meningitis (or maybe it’s just me getting old). My story has a happy ending, I am currently in my 2nd year at the University of Stirling. I have been coping well with numerous pressures and have loved every second of my education. I’m aware of everything now though. A slight sniffle or a cough and I hope it’s not happening all over again. I work hard and have a lot of fun along the way. This will also be my second year of fundraising and I am proud to be able to help make a change, however little. Many are not as lucky as I was. I understand their pain and struggles and my thoughts go out to all those who have been affected. This is why it's so important for us all to raise as much awareness as possible.

Brodie Duncan
February 2018