Meningitis in your words

Geraldine Courtney's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Geraldine Courtney

On 4 May 2012 I woke up in the early morning with a mild earache. As time went by I started to vomit so decided to go in to the doctor. It was the start of a change to my life.

I was sitting in A and E with my husband when a nurse we knew came over to chat. She was to save my life, she thought I didn’t look well and decided to take me straight up to medical unit.

Going up along the corridor within seconds things started to change. I started to complain of a terrible headache and started to drift in and out of consciousness. They thought it was a bleed on the brain, but when the CT scan came back clear they decided to do a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis, they didn’t think it was that. I had no rash or other symptoms of meningitis.

"I thought it was a young people’s disease."

I spent two weeks in hospital on intravenous antibiotics, the first two days in intensive care of which I have no memory. I recovered well enough to be let home and was told after a few weeks I should make a good recovery. There was no follow up care.

It’s a year later. I lost the hearing completely in my left ear. I still have trouble sleeping at night. I have constant ringing in my head, the tiredness is still a major issue, I have short term memory loss.

I know and thank God when I think how lucky I was to survive without major complications. But just because my side effects can’t be seen doesn’t mean I am not suffering. I sometimes feel very alone and think I am a hypochondriac at times.

I have had great support from Caroline (MRF Medical Information Officer in Ireland) and the Foundation; just reading through the life experiences has made me realise that before I got this illness I knew nothing about the symptoms or side effects. I thought it was a young person’s disease. Now I know anyone of any age can contract it. It happens so fast and in an instant your life and your family’s life can be changed forever.

I gave my doctor the booklet on signs and symptoms and after effects, he and his nurses were delighted with it as they said they knew very little on how it affects people who survive. I would like to help in any way I can to raise awareness of this terrible disease which can happen in an instant.

Geraldine Courtney
August 2013