Meningitis in your words

Gemma Drury's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Gemma Drury

On Monday 6th July 2009 during last lesson I began to come down with a headache; I thought nothing of it and assumed I was tired. When I got home, I slept from about 5pm until around 9pm. When I woke, I showered and then went back to bed which was unlike me.

Tuesday 7th July 2009, I didn't feel like going to sixth form because my headache was much worse. I did go to school, but returned home after two lessons. For the rest of the day I slept and I couldn't understand why my head was hurting so much, but I assumed it was a migraine. Later that evening, I rang the out of hours GP and I told them my symptoms of feeling sick, a really severe headache, lack of appetite and shivering. I was diagnosed with swine flu and my parents went to collect Tamiflu tablets. Later that evening, I was vomiting violently; I couldn't understand why.

On Wednesday, my head was pounding and becoming worse. I went downstairs to get some fresh air. When I opened the back door I collapsed on the kitchen floor breathless and blacked out. My dad rang 999 and an ambulance was refused because a diagnosis of swine flu had already been made, so instead an emergency doctor would come to visit. The emergency doctor confirmed to my parents that I had swine flu and to carry on taking Tamiflu tablets.

"My parents were told my chances of survival were 50/50"

Early hours of Thursday 9th July, my headache was unbearable and I couldn't cope much longer. I asked my mum what to do and she advised me to ring 999 myself. I lied to the emergency services saying that I had taken an overdose of paracetamol.

The paramedics arrived within 10 minutes. I was weak, I couldn't dress myself, my mum had to help me and I was becoming delirious. I was taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where I spent over two hours in the A&E department, but was sent home and advised to go to bed as all I had to worry about was swine flu.

However, once I returned home all I stayed in bed all day with my parents coming to check on me and forcing me to take the anti-viral tablets. I was so weak I soiled myself.

Finally on Friday 10th July 2009 my dad rang NHS Direct and explained the situation; they asked my parents if I could respond and I couldn't as I was lifeless. They sent an ambulance and a paramedic spotted a purple rash. I was rushed to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where I was finally diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

My parents waited anxiously as they were told my chances of survival were 50/50. Luckily, I have made an almost full recovery; I have a slight hearing loss in my left ear and tinnitus.

My message to everyone is that if meningitis can happen to me, then it can happen to you so make sure you are aware of the symptoms of meningitis.

Gemma Drury
July 2010