Meningitis in your words

Daniella Nudd's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Young Adult 20-25
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Other
Daniella Nudd

I was a 21 year old student at Nottingham University in 1998. I awoke in my ground floor room in the early hours of a February morning freezing cold and I had intense pain in my right arm. I put the heating on and went back to bed. However, I began to vomit regularly. To this day I can’t explain how cold I felt. 

I was in a student house at the time and my housemates began waking to go to lectures. They checked on me throughout the morning and one of my friends moved me to her bedroom because I couldn’t open windows in my room. I continued to vomit and became very weak. Out of concern due to my presentation they contacted the medical centre on campus for advice and they were encouraged to bring me to the surgery. 

They called a taxi and I remember his jaw dropping when I was led out of house. Apparently I looked green!! I also remember asking him if he would be OK if I brought a plastic bag to be sick into and he was absolutely fine. I continued to vomit as he drove me to the campus. 

By the time I reached the surgery the rash had appeared. From here the staff acted quickly and I was subsequently rushed by ambulance to the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. I had two lumber punctures as the first one failed and I was given IV antibiotics. It was confirmed that I had meningococcal septicaemia C strain. 

"I recall the pain being unbearable."

My family were contacted (In Norfolk) and advised that they needed to come up because of the seriousness of the situation. They immediately commenced the 3 hour journey from Gt Yarmouth to Nottingham. At the time my older sister (who is also a nurse) contacted Meningitis Research Foundation for support and advice. She was comforted by the support she received and the Foundation remained in contact with her throughout the experience. 

Meanwhile I had to undergo 2 lumbar punctures. I remember being told that I would subsequently suffer from headaches that were “100 time worse than a hangover” and they weren’t wrong!! I recall the pain being unbearable. I was administered IV pain killers and moved to the high dependency unit and coronary care. 

In 1999 I was asked by the Foundation to accompany them to London to visit various news/radio stations to talk about my experience owing to the decision to introduce a vaccine (MenC) for all 1st year University students. My housemates certainly saved my life because they took me to the doctors when I was content with staying in bed because of feeling to weak. They could have assumed I was hungover but they were guided by instinct at the time which told them something just wasn’t right. I owe everything to them. 

I made a full recovery but suffer from nerve pain as a result of the initial lumber puncture which, it is believed, dislodged my sciatic nerve. The pain is unbearable at times but I manage this knowing how extremely lucky I was and am.

Daniella Nudd
September 2015