Meningitis in your words

John Spalding's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Husband or Wife
  • Outcome: Bereavement
John Spalding

On 23rd December 2014 my life changed forever in 3 minutes.

My husband John was a GP and on Monday 22nd December he walked through the door as his normal happy and slightly over the top self. We ate tea and wrapped our boys’ Christmas presents.

[CMSAbstractTransformation.DataBind]: Object cannot be cast from DBNull to other types.

We went to bed and at midnight, John went downstairs for a glass of wine and bought another “Sharpe” novel on his kindle. 

At 3am he woke me with a temperature and felt as if he had a virus. I gave him paracetamol and ibuprofen and he went back to sleep. 

At 7am he woke with a fever and rigors (which wasn’t unusual for him due to his eczema) and said he felt sick. I phoned his Practice Manager to say he wouldn’t be in (he never missed work) but he said he’d be in later. He had paracetamol and ibuprofen and went back to sleep.

I wasn't at work that day and went out to get Christmas veg. I came back at 10am and he was sleeping so I left him to rest. I opened a Christmas card from a close friend and went up to tell him their news an hour later. He didn't wake up but I didn't try very hard.

I was downstairs at 12.30 when I heard him moving. I went up with my youngest son, Tim. John was sitting on the end of the bed, but then he fell backwards. 

He said: “Phone an ambulance”.

I did, did, but his colour and breathing rapidly deteriorated. Over the phone they told me to get him on the floor and start CPR. We did. He was dead within 3 minutes.

We knew the moment he died but we kept on with CPR until the ambulance crew arrived and then they took over. My eldest son Phil arrived at the hospital for us to tell him his Dad was dead. I had to tell my middle son who was living in Doncaster at the time over the phone. On post mortem they told me his internal organs were covered in a rash and a week later it was found to be Bacterial Men W.

John, despite the long hours he worked, was a brilliant involved Dad. He was school governor, coached Richard’s rugby team and ran the line at the boys' football matches. 

In every way he was there for our boys. Phil, Rich and Tim miss him so much but I am so proud of the way they have dealt with his loss. Phil has moved onto a new job and started his masters, Rich has moved to a new job in London and Tim achieved a 1st class honours degree. They would have so loved to tell their Dad these things. They have achieved all of this because their Dad lives on through them.

Meningococcal septicaemia is cruel and it respects no one. It presents in many ways. 

"Ours was a sudden loss with no warning and not having that chance to hold John and tell him how much I loved him (although he knew) was so hard. There was no time to adjust to our life without him",- says John's wife.

John was a Doctor, I'm a Physiotherapist – but even now I wouldn't recognise it as anything different to flu.

That is Men W and I personally feel vaccination is the only way forward.

Dianne Spalding
November 2016

Share the story