Meningitis in your words

Marsha Pearson's story

  • Location: UK
  • Categories: Pneumococcal, Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Outcome: Full recovery
  • After effects: Headaches
Marsha Pearson

On the Friday I felt great, I had ran 5k the day before at the gym.and now I was conducting interviews at work. Friday evening came and I was tired so had an early night.  I woke up early on the Saturday morning and started to get ready for the gym. I didn't feel right and just thought I needed more sleep so I went back to bed. Woke up again later on that morning and my head was throbing, I'm not someone who is prone to headaches or migraines and I had pains in the lower part of my back and legs. My husband did my temperature and it was 40.2. He gave me some pain killers and back to sleep I went.

However the pain in my lower back and legs was agony and as the day went on my headache was worsening, it was all over my head not in one particular area. I wasn't too concerned, our daughter who is 7 had had a virus over the Christmas break but had been back to full health for a couple of weeks now so I just thought I had a virus. Sunday came and my temperature just wouldn't break, I just wanted to sleep but my head just wasn't easing and my lower back and legs were waking me up throughout the night. I remember texting my boss on the Sunday night saying I would need a sick day on the Monday, which isn't me, I adore my job "I don't do sickness".

Come Monday morning something kept niggling at me about meningitis. As a mum it is drilled into you when your child is poorly and what to look out for. I propped myself up in bed and tried to move my neck to check for rashes but my neck was stiff and when I pulled the curtains back my immediate reaction was agony, I couldnt deal with the light. I managed to look at my chest and stomach and I had a rash across my chest and a small pin prick red blob on my stomach. By this time my husband had gone to work. I called the Doctors and waited for a call back. I was in no state to drive, the Doctors called me back and strongly advised I called an ambulance. Me being me didn't do this and called my parents, I didn't like the thought of an ambulance not being available for "someone who really needed it". My parents came and off to A&E we went.

The moment I got to hospital it was like a whirlwind, the NHS get a bad time but I couldn't fault them. I was whisked into a dark room for an initial conversation then I was taken into another room within minutes in isolation where I was hooked up to a number of machines and they started putting catheters into me and medicine was being pumped into me. The nurses were incredible and the health assistant.  I saw Doctor after Doctor, one would say it was viral meningitis but then after a chest x'ray and ct scan I was told in the evening I also had a chest infection but was asymptomatic, zero symptoms of a cheste infection and that's when I was told that night they were going to start treatment for pneumonia meningitis. 

Throughout the night I was given bag after bag of medication.  During the first night I didn't panic, I wasn't frightened I was just focused on getting well. I tried not to think of my family too much as I knew I would break and breaking was an option, I just had to get well. Tuesday came and I was still the same. My blood pressure was too low and wasn't behaving itself.  I had full on light sensitivity and I couldn't get my room dark enough so was kindly given an eye mask.

Things changed late Tuesday afternoon,  my husband had left to pick our daughter up and the pain in my head was so intense, I felt dreadful the worst I had felt the entire time until now. I couldn't lift my head and now the pain was just so intense in my lower back and legs.This is when I got worried, this whole time I had been so focused and positive but now I was worried, I actually prayed, I prayed that I would get through this and prayed for me to fight it and to see my family, my friends and colleagues. All i could think about was I needed to remind a friend about my life insurance and if something happened that she needed to remind my husband about it for him and our daughter but I couldnt find the strength to lift my hand to get my phone. By this point I was hallucinating. I vaguely remember a nurse coming into my room and pumping me with more drugs. My temperature was severely high but as it started to stable I felt like I was "coming round". I didn't dare to go to sleep that night.

As the drugs continued throughout the night and early morning I felt I had turned a corner. However at one point my body was forgetting to breath but i felt strangely calm, what I didn't realised  was my obs were being closely monitored so when my oxygen levels dropped they came in getting me to breath, I don't know why, I was just forgetting to breath. I had a lumbar puncture on the third day but was told they were hoping not to find anything now given the amount of drugs I had had over the last few days. Luckily the lumbar puncture came back clear but they still continued to treat me for bacterial meningitis.

Towards the end of the week my temperature finally broke and my symptoms lessened. I was struggling to walk straight, still had those meningitis headaches and light sensitivity. As I was self-employed I didn't want a sicknote, i wanted normality. I was ordered 5 days of bed rest and then light duties. I wanted to get back to normal as quickly as possible but it quickly became apparent it wasn't going to be that easy. I was exhausted after the smallest thing, my headaches were still there and my light phobia was intense and i was off balance.

When home I spoke with the meningitis group hoping for some tips and tricks for a faster recovery but unfortunately you can't trick your body for a faster recovery.  I was just told rest which for me i find difficult.  A week later I was suffering from loss of hearing in one ear, I got it tested and they were confident it would get back to normal and nearly 3 months later it has.  I'm at the stage now where my headaches have become less intense,  they still creep in if ive had a busy day, they're just  like  a  subtle reminder to calm it down but I can walk straight and I'm back at the gym and more or less back to working normally in the job I love. I was angry for a while,  angry that I even got meningitis but I realise how lucky I was compared to other storys and how to never take anything you have in life for granted.

Keep positive and don't give up!

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