Meningitis in your words

Isobel Hall's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Toddler 1-3
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Isobel Hall

The first part is told by my mother, Audrey.

Isobel was 13 months old when she developed meningitis in January 1960. She was listless, off her food, flushed and kept crying. I called the doctor on the first day but our usual GP was away and a young locum came. He simply said she wasn't very well. 

The next day she was worse and I called him again. I suggested that it might be meningitis, but he brushed aside the idea. He said he would call the following day. By this time she was a very sick child, but he still took no action. On the fourth day our usual GP came and within an hour Isobel was in Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Manchester.

There she was under the care of Doctor Holzel, a wonderful paediatrician, who supervised her progress for many years. She was at once given a lumbar puncture, which confirmed meningitis. 

My husband and I were terribly anxious for the next two weeks, during which time she improved daily. She was given penicillin. After a month she came home. The next few months were also worrying but she gradually began to walk and her speech - which had always been good - progressed normally.

At the age of two years she was given an EEG, which came out normal. She went to school at the age of four and a half and made normal progress and was an early good reader. She was an average pupil and gained several GCSEs and CSEs.

I have always felt quite certain that she contracted the disease in the local day nursery, which was very cold one morning when I left her. I had called the attention of a member of staff to the low temperature of the place. The type of meningitis she contracted was pneumococcal meningitis.

I have always felt hugely resentful of the young locum who took no notice of my suggestion that it might be meningitis. I was a young head teacher and at least as intelligent as he was, but he treated me like an underling. Moreover, I had more than an idea that it was meningitis as my grandmother had often told me of her little daughter, Marian, who had died of the disease in 1901.

My personal story

Thanks to my mother I am still alive today. If she had not insisted on asking the doctor to come I might have died. I also owe a great deal to Dr Holzel and the staff at Booth Hall Children's Hospital, who nursed me back to health and monitored my progress.

Five years ago I decided to join the Meningitis Research Foundation as I am a survivor and wanted to help in any way I could.

Over the past four or five years I have collected many cheques from various organisations and given a few talks on meningitis to say thank you on behalf of the team for the donations which people have given. 

Isobel Hall
May 2009