Meningitis in your words

Michelle Findlay's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Viral
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Michelle Findlay

It was August 2011, I was 33 and had been living out in Italy for over two years.

I had been ill for about a month, I was phenomenally weak with no energy and could do less day by day. Also my fingers swelled up and were stiff and painful, which I now know is common with certain viruses. If I had been in the UK I probably would have visited the doctor, but not as easy out in Italy and I am usually in very good health. On this occasion though, I did think there was something wrong and thought I might have cancer.

All my symptoms came to a head when I developed the mother of all migraines, I had them (rarely) before, so knew how it felt. My head was hot, painful, throbbing and I could not bear to look at the light. I stayed like that for three days not going anywhere.

"The lights were so bright and I was so unwell. I felt every bump and prayed for it to end"

On the last day I got worse, my back was so stiff it felt as if I had a broom up my bottom. But my neck was OK.

Despite all these conditions, all I wanted to do was sleep. I now know this is a symptom of the meningitis itself, perhaps one of the more dangerous, because with all the confusion and sleepiness, I didn’t want to go anywhere.

Then I started projectile vomiting, then I had a convulsion.

Finally the journey I knew was coming arrived, I had put it off for as long as possible. My husband drove me to hospital, the lights were so bright and I was so unwell. I felt every bump and prayed for it to end.

I stumbled into A & E with a bowl and got to see a neurologist so fast my husband was still parking.

They seemed very alarmed with my symptoms, the most alarming that I could not straighten my legs.

They did lots of tests, which eventually came back but were inconclusive, so I needed a lumbar puncture> It was so painful my screams rang out all over the hospital. They had not told my husband, so he was very concerned why I was screaming.

Then I had to wait for the results again, my hands and feet were freezing and I was begging for pain relief, but they would not offer it without the results.

Eventually someone put a drip in me, but forgot to open the button that lets the liquid out and I was still in pain for another hour.

They told me it was meningitis and I was admitted upstairs.

I could not walk for two weeks and I was completely out of it for five days. I lost over a stone, and had to be put on strong antibiotics that gave me acne for six months after, also it destroyed the lining of my bowels every morning I would pass a giant bougger. (It was gross).

Eventually I got better but was left with side effects of headaches, blurred vision, tinnitus, numb face etc. Most of it has passed now. But I still feel very photo phobic.

They found out that I had viral meningitis caused by a tiny bug that bit me (there were lots of said bugs in our house biting us every night). It was called Toscana virus, quite rare. Going to the doctors afterwards was fascinating, he also didn’t know what it was, so had to look it up on Google,. It didn’t exactly inspire faith in him.

My husband was amazing, never let me worry and looked after me, my little angel.

Reading some of the other stories, I know I am lucky. What really surprised me is that I knew all the symptoms of meningitis, but because I suffer with migraines, passed it off as that. Also I felt my symptoms were atypical, I had always thought stiff neck, but not stiff back, so it just goes to show that the check list is not set in stone.

Michelle Findlay
February 2012