Meningitis in your words

Callum John McLeish's story

  • Location: Scotland
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
Callum John McLeish

As I attended my Christmas works night out I never thought that I would wake up five days later not knowing what had gone on in my life. 

As I sat having a meal with my colleagues I began to feel very cold and started shivering constantly. When I asked others if they were cold they replied not, so I went to the bathroom where I felt very nauseous. I returned and explained that I felt unwell and would go home. For whatever reason I knew that something was seriously wrong so I rang my parents to advise I was going hot and cold. Being allergic to Penicillin and having had a reaction before, the symptoms were very similar so they were somewhat amused when I would suggest that perhaps I was reacting to this given that I wasn't on any prescription. The night followed and it is only after my recovery I remember constantly being sick every so often. 

The following morning my Mum came across and checked up on me. I requested some Lucozade and a mince pie (yes, very random), but I was craving sugar. I was still going hot and cold and my Mum was reasonably convinced I had flu. It was only when I threw the bed covers back at this point that I was so hot that she realised something was wrong. She enquired about some dark marks, resembling bruises, on my legs and whether I had done this playing football at the weekend. I replied not but it may have been due to the banging of my legs when I was shivering the night before. 

She immediately demanded I go down the stairs, realising that she could not carry me as I was now slipping into unconsciousness. I barely remember what followed other than vague noises of my parents' voices as my Mum rushed me to hospital, collecting my Father on the way. 

"The worrying thing is how people cannot comprehend that a 35 year old fit human can contract the disease"

Sadly, the hospital was very un-responsive and it was some three hours before they were happy to treat me for meningitis. I was not in a position to have a lumbar puncture, but for my parents the next 48 hours were touch and go, particularly since I had stopped breathing at least once in the first three hours. 

The next thing I recall was waking up in a hospital being informed that it was Saturday and that I had been extremely ill. Nothing can comprehend what my relatives and in particular my parents went through, to whom I will always remain eternally grateful. However, I still live with the questions of why, where and what if. I am glad to say, that despite medical assessments at first I fully recovered despite some minor alignments such as stiffness and some scarring, but I am so lucky. 

The worrying thing is how people cannot comprehend that a 35 year old fit human can contract the disease. The misconception is that it affects children but this is clearly not the case. 

Callum McLeish
August 2009