Meningitis in your words

Rachel Forsythe's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Meningococcal
  • Age: MRF - Age
  • Relationship: Self
  • Outcome: Full recovery
Rachel Forsythe

On 27th May 2011, I was in the middle of sitting my GCSEs. I had a few days off to study but it was the weekend so I decided to take a break.

I was with my boyfriend at my house and he was about to go home. I started to feel really cold so I put one of my big coats on and I put the heating on.

After about 30 minutes, my neck and throat stated to get really sore. I was planning to meet my friend that night but I told her that I couldn’t because I felt really ill.

I went to bed hoping that I would be OK for the next day. I noticed I had a lump on my tongue and I thought this was really strange. I told my mum and dad and they gave me an ice lolly to cool the swelling down. Unfortunately this didn’t work. At this point I started to worry but I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid of what could be wrong with me.

"The doctor thought it was an uncommon type of shingles"

I lay in bed for the whole weekend and things got worse. I had lost my appetite and didn’t want to talk to anyone.

My mum rang the out of hours doctors and explained what was wrong and I went there about half an hour later with my auntie. I explained to him that I had a lump on my tongue and by this time I started to get red rashes around my legs. I thought this would have been because I was lying in bed a lot. He said he thought it was an uncommon type of shingles or viral infection and that I would get worse before I got better. I took his word for it and went home.

At this point I had a severe headache. I was supposed to go to my friend’s 18th birthday but my head was that sore I couldn’t think straight. Things started to go downhill and symptoms increased. I was tired all the time, I just wanted to go to sleep, everyone’s voice was so loud, I couldn’t sit up or lay down because my neck was really stiff, every time I moved I threw up green stuff and I got really weak that I couldn’t help myself up after being sick. I started to get sore legs and small and big rashes on my body. I knew straight away that it was serious. All I wanted to do was sleep because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

The next day was much the same and my mum knew I had to go to the doctor again. So she rang the out of hours doctors and asked to see a different doctor. I couldn’t even walk or open my eyes because the light was so bright. She said she didn’t know what was wrong but would send me to A&E to get blood tests.

The doctors in the hospital knew straight away and I was sent into a special room and treated. I don’t really know what happened because I was going in and out of consciousness, but I remember waking up with loads of needles in my arms. I was shaking like a leaf. I then got an x-ray on my chest and was then in intensive care for a week and they told me I had bacterial meningitis. During that week I got a lumbar puncture and an x-ray on my head to check if my brain was OK.

I couldn’t sit the rest of my exams but I had done enough coursework so I was examined on that.

It was the most painful and scary part of my life that I will never forget and I am just really grateful that I’m ok now and I think about it every day.

Rachel Forsythe
November 2011