Meningitis in your words

Kate Larkin's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Kate Larkin

My goodness reading these stories has brought it all back to me, back to 1997.

I was in college and was 19 at the time. It was a Monday and we were in college and I felt generally unwell. I went home and started getting sick every half an hour and my headache had started.

My friends checked on me and I went to the doctor in the college on the Tuesday morning and what a waste of time that was – she barely looked at me and sent me home saying I had a flu.

I went back to where I was renting and was in quite a bad way, my head was thumping and I was still getting sick. My housemate rang my mum who came for me although her car broke down and she had to ring Dad to come in another car. I did not recognise my father when he came. They took me home and put me to bed.

My mother slept with me and she woke in the middle of the night to me attempting to bang my head off the wall because my headache was so bad. This was now Tuesday night. My head was aching to although I have no recollection of being affected by light.

"My mum said she would not take me out of hospital in a body bag"

The doctor came out Wednesday took one look at me and sent me to the Hospital in Drogheda. My mother practically held my head up as we waited in A&E. I am not sure how long we were there and they were fussing around me but didn't know what was wrong with me. I remember spotting the rash and said it to mum and the doctor heard and I remember all hell broke loose then.

I must have been out of it as I don't remember the lumbar puncture, thank God, and this confirmed diagnosis. I was placed into an isolation room with a very high temperature, and was wrapped in cold wet blankets for a time which broke my mother’s heart and me begging her to take them off.

After two weeks I remember my second lumbar puncture which confirmed that the meningitis was gone. My knees were quite swelled with fluid which had to be removed, I could not walk or go to the bathroom, but my family were great.

I had a relapse which I think was all the antibiotics in my system and I was sleeping a lot. The doctor said to my mum that he thought my brain was swelling, and she said to him that she would not take me out of the hospital in a body bag and to do something.

I remember not being able to recognise my sister once and it breaks my heart now to think of how my family suffered with worry.

I was in hospital for a total of one month but I was lucky I had no lasting side effects, apart from sore knees and prone to headaches, which has settled over the years. My memory is not the best at times but a very small price to pay.

My mother stayed by my side and was my strength and power and an inspiration to me, as were all my family.

The hospital staff generally were great but sometimes you have to insist and do not take no for an answer. I never went back to the same doctor again and shudder when I see her.

In reading these stories I would urge anyone who even thinks that someone has meningitis to follow your instincts do not wait!! I was sick for two full days and nights and am lucky to be alive and I count my blessings for that. FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS!

God bless you all.

Kate Larkin
January 2012