Meningitis in your words

Jenna Murray's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Viral
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Co-ordination problems
Jenna Murray

I am an 18 year old student in my final year of studying in Glasgow. In March 2012 I began to get pains in my head and face. I put it down to my wisdom tooth coming through! I took some aspirin expecting it to go away, and nope, the pain was still there.

I went to my bed that night thinking everything was fine. I can remember waking up during the night, but still I thought nothing of it. When I woke up the following morning I was experiencing pain like I had never felt before in my entire life. I could barely open my eyes without having shooting pains through my head.

I thought to myself that I must be coming down with something. I took pain killers and continued to go on with my normal Tuesday routine. The lights were making my head hurt, everywhere I looked I ended up with pains in my head and then my neck and throat.

"I'd never felt so bad in my whole life"

Gradually throughout the day my lecturers became quite concerned. They took me to the nearest health centre who said ‘no we can't see you’, then my own doctors who told me to go back later in the day.

I returned to college to let everyone know what was going on. By this point I was feeling really bad. All I wanted was my mum, I'd never felt so bad in my whole life. I had no idea what was going on and no-one around me seemed to know either.

I didn’t want to be by myself; I was told to rest in the radio studio until my appointment with the doctors later on in the day. I took two paracetamol, a can of Coke from my lecturer and a snooze!

When I woke up I felt a lot better, at least I thought I did until I moved! I walked into the corridor and the lights sent shooting pains through my head. Something wasn't right. I said goodbye to my lecturers and friends and headed off to my doctors to find out what was happening. My doctor told me that I had a migraine and to go home and rest.

"I had to get a lumbar puncture, which she explained as being needles stuck into my back to drain the fluid that surrounds my spine and brain."

Later that night I was much worse and decided to phone NHS 24 who told me to go straight to A&E.

Throughout the night all I remember happening is nurses coming up, taking my temperature, sticking needles in me – which I now have a great fear of! I couldn't understand what the doctor was talking about, was I just tired or was he because he was on night shift?!

In the morning my new doctor came to see me. She was so nice and for once someone sat down beside me and explained what was going to happen and what was going on. I had to get a lumbar puncture, which she explained as being needles stuck into my back to drain the fluid that surrounds my spine and brain.

After the procedure my doctor came over and explained what they were treating me for. I had already been told suspected meningitis but now it was confirmed. The spinal fluid from my lumbar puncture showed a raised white cell count and high protein count. This basically meant that there was an infection present and I had to begin getting treatment straight away or I could get worse.

I hadn't really told anyone I was in hospital, which now I see as being a mistake, as I wished there was someone there with me. I eventually told people and before I knew they were all visiting me.

I still didn't know if I had bacterial or viral meningitis as I was being treated for both. I remember sitting one night after about two days of being in hospital and it all kicked in what was going on. I began to get frightened that I wasn't going to be ok. Thankfully five days later I was released and thought I was back to normal.

I am just one month on and I have a lot of minor after effects which are really affecting college. I am in my final year of studying and need my grades for university. Having missed so much it is causing a lot of pressure but, with the help of my teachers, I am getting there. I am very emotional and occasionally still get headaches and a sore back. But it is all just part of the recovery process.

I am finding that it's all just sinking in what has happened to me now one month on and realising how lucky I am.

Jenna Murray
April 2012