Meningitis in your words

Emma Henderson's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Sight problems
Emma Henderson

On the 8th of March 2010 I had been digging the garden with my mam. Later that evening I got a pain in my right elbow, it was like a muscle strain so we thought it was from digging the garden. The next day the pain in my elbow continued but again in the evening all my muscles began to ache.

On the 10th of March I woke up and went and sat on the sofa with my duvet. After a while I got a severe migraine; I never had a migraine before and I felt as if my head was going to explode. My mam rang the doctor and he said “it’s probably flu but if it gets worst ring me back”. I took two tablets to see if that would take the pain away but they were too strong for me and made me sick. My mam asked if I wanted to try Disprin because they were not as strong. She went into the kitchen to get the Disprin and when she came back she was calling me and I could hear and understand her but couldn’t talk back. My body felt very heavy and I couldn’t hold myself up. The last thing I heard was my mam saying  “I’m calling an ambulance".

"I had heard of meningitis before but never thought I would get it"

I was brought into the hospital and straight away they treated me for meningitis as it would do no harm if it wasn’t meningitis. The doctors said I could have meningitis, a bleed on the brain or a tumour.

I was put under sedation and moved to ICU for three days. I had an MRI scan done and it came up clear, and they also gave me a lumbar puncture and from that they knew it was meningitis. I was on a ventilator to help me breathe and I also had a tube that was giving me food and a tube in my neck that was giving me medication.

I was woken up after three days of sedation and the feeding tube and the ventilator were removed. I was moved to the high dependency unit. I slept most of the time when I was there but when I was awake I had double vision. I had to have a catheter bag inserted because I was too weak to get out of the bed. I was receiving drip after drip to get the medication into my body. After three days I was moved to a ward because I was responding well to the medicine.

Once I was moved to a ward I started to feel better and better every day, but I still had the double vision. The doctors were worried about my eyes – they thought it was due to swelling on the brain, so I got another MRI scan which showed up clear and I also got another lumbar puncture. Your cells should only be 10 when you get a lumbar puncture but the first lumbar puncture I got my cells were 12,000 but the second one my cells went down to 16 which meant the medicine worked. I went to see an eye doctor in the hospital who said my eyes will go back to normal in time but I had to get glasses and cover one lens with tape and I could see perfectly then.

On the 24th of March – exactly two weeks after I was admitted – I was released from hospital. After being home a week the double vision is getting better now: during the day it has gone, but at night my eyes are tired and it comes back, but it’s still early days. I also get the odd headache but otherwise I have recovered completely.

I had heard of meningitis before but never thought I would get it and I never really understood how serious it was. If my mam hadn’t of got me to the hospital when she did the doctors said I would have died within a half hour.

APRIL 2010