Irish TV presenter and social media creator, James Patrice, almost died of bacterial meningitis at the age of 10. As a result of his experience, he is committed to spreading the word about meningitis, so that more people are aware of the symptoms to look out for.
Hi there! My name is James Patrice. I’m an Irish TV presenter and social media creator and, at the age of 10, I nearly died from bacterial meningitis and septicaemia. It’s my greatest honour to talk about my experience in the hope that others may know the symptoms of these horrendous infections and will be equipped to act in ample time to stop them in their tracks. This World Meningitis Day, I’m sharing my story - not to frighten people, but to offer them the knowledge they may need to survive.
Initially I felt a little sick after dinner one evening. It was January 2000 and I remember thinking that it must have been the 'Millennium bug' that everyone was harping on about and that I’d just eaten too much junk food that evening as there were still some festive bits in the house. I felt a little weak and had a sick feeling in my stomach, so when it was bedtime Mum told me to sleep in the bed with her and Dad.
At first my Mum thought that perhaps I had the flu or a stomach bug, but as the hours passed my symptoms progressed into drowsiness, not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to eat, and the need to consistently sleep. Around 6 AM I went into the bathroom to try to vomit, but nothing really came up. My legs were very weak, my knees were stiff and I was extremely drowsy. I then sat on the toilet and Mum noticed red dots starting to appear on my legs, and that’s when the alarm bells went off - she knew straight away that it was meningitis. Mum and Dad immediately brought me to the GP down the road and before I knew it my Dad was breaking every light imaginable to get me into Temple Street Hospital in Dublin. From that moment, I was critically ill for 48 hours and in intensive care for three days.
The doctor later told me in Temple Street that if it wasn't for my Mum and her quick thinking, I may not have made it, and frankly that frightens me so much. My Mum's knowledge made me a very lucky person, but so many others aren't. It’s because of this that I always encourage everyone to take 10 minutes to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of meningitis. Check out meningitis.org, screenshot the symptoms, have a read, and save them to your phone. Maybe even forward them on within your WhatsApp groups. As cliché as it may sound, knowledge really is power and it was knowledge that saved my life.
Having meningitis is something that definitely has an effect on who you are as a person. There's not a day goes by that I don't think about having it. When you come that close to 'kicking the bucket', for want of a better phrase, you really don't sweat the small stuff. When people ask me why I'm always so upbeat and optimistic, I tell them it's because life is simply too short. I love my family so much for what they did for me. Dad and my sister Vanessa visited me morning, noon and night and Mum literally never left my side for 10 days. I can’t imagine how my family must have felt to have been told that their 10 year old boy may not survive - I know that it is something that has deeply affected them, but has ultimately made us stronger. Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia may have threatened my being, but in the end, kicking their ass gave me a whole new lease of life.