Meningitis in your words

Jemima Pinchbeck's story

  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Teenager
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Scarring - skin damage
Jemima Pinchbeck

My story begins on the 17th of July 2022, I had just flown out to Austria with my friend and we had decided to go out for the night. Not long into the night I began shaking and being sick, we went home and I had a fever and was still being sick.

On route back to my bed after going to the toilet I collapsed on the stone floor, and couldn't get up, however I didn't shout for help as the cold floor was so relieving. Once my mum found me she called the local doctor, who then called the ambulance. I was taken by air ambulance, despite my fear of heights, to the nearest hospital.

They did various tests and didn't know what was going on until my mum noticed a few spots on my side. I can't remember this as , by this time, I was unconscious. I then after a round of antibiotics was taken in another helicopter to Innsbruck hospital. I was put into intensive care and it was declared that I was in a coma.

Mum was told there is a very slim chance that I will make it. The coma lasted 11 days and I was on pretty much every life support machine going. The most important one being the Echmo machine, which is a machine which beats you're heart outside you're body. My body went into full septic shock. Luckily I can't remember this, apparently all my feet and my fingertips began to go black, I was swollen and covered in spots.

Once I eventually woke up I began having hallucinations of being trapped, which is ironic as I suppose you are trapped in a coma. In total I spent 44 days in intensive care, and mainly in a bed as I lost the use of all my limbs. Relearning all of the day to day activities such as holding a knife and fork or lifting my arm up was exhausting but it kept me busy. A huge milestone for me was sitting up, as lying in a bed 24/7 is nice if you're in you're own bed and its a choice, But when you're choice is taken away from you then its frustrating.

I currently still struggle with walking as some of my nerves still don't work and my feet are still injured. As I mentioned before my feet went black from lack of blood in the coma, some surgeons wanted to amputate my feet or my toes but a heart surgeon decided she would make it her mission to fix me. This was luck, however, I didn't think so at the time as her way of healing me was by cutting my feet to help blood flow, im weeks into her method and although the pain is excruciating one foot is finished and the other is almost there. I am covered in scars from holes in my body, needles, cannulas, tubes, and even the spots but as people say "scars only make you stronger" at least that's what im hoping anyway.

I have come to realise there is no time frame to this horrific disease. I am three months and a half months down the line and I am still struggling. The support I have from my family and friends is life saving, as without them my mental state would be in a much worse place. A memory from hospital was finally being able to go out into the sun and the fresh air for the first time, I believe this was after being in intensive care for a month or so. It made me feel normal again or at least a little more normal.

The normality hasn't come back into my life yet, but I have formed a new "normal" in which I travel with either my mum or my dad to Innsbruck hospital every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for dialysis, and I have to deal with the pain of new Heart cannulas, foot pain and the pain of the dreaded thrombosis injection every day. I hope nobody will ever relate to this nightmare, and I hope my story is over soon. None of us have given up on the thought of light at the end of the tunnel, or the thought of returning to the uk.

Jemima Pinchbeck
October 2022

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