Meningitis in your words

Lauren Fitzgerald's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Young Adult 20-25
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Memory loss
Lauren Fitzgerald

In June 2014, I was taken into hospital and diagnosed with meningitis. I had been feeling fine up until 4 days prior to going into hospital. I was aching and had a lot of flu symptoms. I went to the doctors the next day and got told there was nothing wrong with me at all. Strangely, the day after I felt 100% back to normal.

In the early hours of the 3rd day, I was woken up by a most excruciating pain in my head. No words can describe the pain I was going through.

I carried on with my day at work but I began to be conscious of the fact I was very confused and mixing up words. I just put it down to the head pain. Late that evening, I fell against the wall and was very dizzy. Within that hour I was screaming in pain. The pain in my head had become so bad I couldn't actually move. My parents took me to A+E and I was rapidly worsening. I was struggling to stand up, sit up and walk. I felt as if my whole body was shutting down. I was admitted to the hospital and awaited a brain scan and a lumbar puncture.

Hospital was absolutely horrible. I spent a week on the AAU with a maximum of 2 hours sleep a night. I was on a constant drip with antibiotics and regular paracetamol in case of any pain. Finally, a lot of bacteria was detected in my brain and I was diagnosed with viral and bacterial meningitis.

Since being discharged from hospital I have struggled. I was never informed what meningitis actually was, what I would continue to deal with and if I had made a full recovery. Five months down the line, I've started to realise how poorly I was and how serious meningitis can be. I am struggling with a lot of after effects now which severely affect my day to day life.

One of the worst after effects for me is memory. I can rarely remember little things throughout the day. Some things may only be little but it is so frustrating when I keep having to ask myself, "where did I put that?", "have I done this?". I also have forgotten a lot of things prior to being ill. Almost as if my memory has been wiped.

"Now, I struggle to write, I struggle with spelling and constructing a sentence."

Another big battle with an after effect is how my brain works, in terms of spelling or talking. Before being taken ill, I had started to build my perfect life and working so hard to achieve my goals. Now, I struggle to write, I struggle with spelling and constructing a sentence. Speech is also an issue, sometimes I don't make sense, I could be talking and use a random word in the sentence without realising.

Headaches are a concern to me now, every time I experience a different type of headache I worry myself and when I have these headaches, my after effects worsen. My memory is limited and I can't speak properly.

Not only am I suffering with the after effects of the disease, I am also struggling with the damage the treatment has caused me. During my stay in hospital, I had many cannulas inserted, which caused my veins to collapse and tissue to become damaged. I have little to no grip in my hands sometimes which really affects me when it comes to doing my job.

I am currently waiting for an appointment with a neurologist to help me deal with the aftermath and I'm doing all I can to continue with reaching my goals in life. I am so thankful for the help and support Meningitis Research Foundation has given me and reassured me everything I'm going through is normal. Meningitis awareness needs raising. If a doctor couldn't even recognise the symptoms then how could anybody else?

Lauren Fitzgerald
November 2014