Meningitis in your words

Gerrit White's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Partner
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Gerrit White

On the 11th of March 2010 my boyfriend Gerrit White passed away from meningococcal septicaemia.

We have been friends for about four years now; he was a great person, with a very good heart and always had a smile on his face.

In January 2010 we decided to start a relationship, everything went well and we got along very good – he was not just a partner to me but a brother as well, we could sit and talk to each other for hours.

On the weekend of the 27th of February we went to a nightclub in Vereening (SA). The Monday he started with flu, I got him flu medication and by Wednesday he was fine.

On Friday 5 March we went to his sister for a braai and gathering with friends and he was laughing, joking and seemed that he was healthy again. On the Saturday we went to a company gathering with all our work colleagues; in the evening he was swimming and walking around with his wet body because he refused to dry himself after getting out of the pool.

On Tuesday 8 March he had the flu symptoms again, and I gave him the flu medication again –  I thought it was because of the swimming and walking around with his wet body.

"The paramedics arrived and said there was nothing they could do for him"

Wednesday morning he said that he was feeling better on our way to work, but at about two o’clock he phoned me and said he was not feeling well; I told him to take the flu medication again. Just after three he called me again saying that he was getting very cold, and he is not a person that gets cold easily, so I knew he was ill. I locked up my office and told him that I’m on my way to take him to the doctor and that he should pack up. Driving to the doctor he said it was not necessary, and that I should just take him home so he can take a warm bath and then he would feel better. On our way home, he kept on complaining about his wrists paining.

When we got home I got him into a warm bath and he complained about a sore throat, and he had a very high fever so  I then gave him throat medicine. After getting out of the bath he said he was feeling a bit better and he went and laid down on the couch and I warmed up some food for him. He ate a couple of bites and pushed it away, saying he had had enough. I again gave him flu medication, and asked if I should take him to see a doctor and he said no, it was fine. I left him to sleep and at about eight he woke up, had a couple of bites of his food and said he was thirsty. I then made him juice, and that’s all he drank for the rest of the night.

At ten o’clock we went to bed, all he said is he had never had flu this bad and that he felt terrible. He still had a temperature, but refused to go the hospital, I asked him several times, and he said he would go the following day. I wiped his face a couple of times with a cold wet facecloth during the night to see if it would bring down the fever, because he was very hot, and he was up all evening with diarrhoea and vomiting.

At five o’clock I again asked him to allow me to take him to a doctor, and he said he would go later. His eyes looked like a blood bath, very red, and he was making moaning noises, I then asked him if he has got pain anywhere and he said no. I went and got him clothes and asked him to get dressed so I could take him to a doctor, and he said he just wanted to sleep for a hour or two, and will then go to see a doctor. I told him I was going to work and will make him an appointment for the doctor, and then come fetch him. I got to work and immediately phoned for an appointment, and got one for 11.30am.

At ten I left work to take him to the doctor. Fifteen minutes away he phoned me and said I should hurry because he was struggling to breathe. I rushed to get there and phoned work colleagues to meet me to help get him into the car. When I arrived home he was lying on the couch and his face was covered in small purple spots, and he was ice cold, no pulse, no heart rate. I started performing CPR, after about 20 minutes my work colleague arrived and took over the CPR, and work in the meantime phoned for an ambulance. About half an hour later the paramedics arrived, and said there was nothing that they could do for him.

It was only after the autopsy was done that we have found out he passed from meningococcal septicaemia. It is such a pity he refused to go to a doctor, and he will surely be missed. I know he is at a better place now, but it is still very sad for the people in his life who are left behind, he was a wonderful person, always helping others with a smile on his face, with a heart of gold.

Renee Venter
April 2010