Meningitis in your words

Sally Woodhouse's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Teenager
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Sally Woodhouse

Sally was a bright, fashionable teenager with everything to live for.

We as a family had a good life. We had never experienced death. Both sets of grandparents were alive and as Sally and her older sister Kate had grown up, they had been surrounded by a complete family environment. We lived in a lovely part of the country and enjoyed a good life- style. In hindsight we were all incredibly lucky.

Overnight our lives changed. 

October, 2006

It was October half term and Sally was in Year 11 at Kenilworth School, thoroughly enjoying her time and with a very bright academic future ahead of her.  She had just completed her work experience, one week at John Lewis at Solihull and one week at Parkhill Junior School, both of which were very rich experiences for Sally. She was very much looking forward to returning to school after the break and even making plans for the end of year ball!

Sally went to the gym on Friday evening - she enjoyed to keep fit and healthy. When she returned home she was aching.  On the following day, Sally started with a headache and continued to feel generally unwell - her symptoms were a headache, aching limbs and a temperature but she didn't appear to be seriously ill - she ate her meals and watched TV and even helped to dismantle her old bed. 

However, during the early hours of Sunday morning, Sally felt sick and said she needed to go to hospital. She walked into Warwick Hospital and spoke to the receptionist and we were seen quickly. We knew about meningitis and asked if Sally had this disease. The doctor confirmed that Sally had an infection but stated that she would need a lumbar puncture in order to determine the most suitable antibiotics. 

Whilst waiting to be put on to the children's ward, Sally fell asleep and didn't wake up again. We had been in the hospital for only two hours. We were then transferred to Leicester Royal Infirmary as there were no Intensive Care facilities at Warwick Hospital. Sally's family were all there just hoping she would wake up.  A brain scan the following day confirmed that Sally had died and a blood test later revealed the cause as meningococcal meningitis Strain B. 

The medical staff at Warwick hospital were in disbelief, they had no idea that Sally had meningitis.  

"Nobody could believe someone as healthy as Sally could have died so quickly."

I felt that the events were all happening to someone else, another family, not mine. Nobody could believe that someone as healthy as Sally could have died so quickly - it was unbelievable.

Everyone who knew Sally loved her! She was beautiful, vivacious and fun-loving.  She was full of life and love and could light up a room with her stunning smile and lovely personality.  Sally also lived her life to the full and was always looking forward to the next new adventure, whether it be horse-riding, water ski-ing or paragliding!  We all miss her so much and always will.

Sally had planned to run the 10K Two Castles Run with her friend Ben in June 2007. We decided that we wanted to do this in Sally's memory and to raise money for the Meningitis Research Foundation. About 130 of Sally's friends and family took part in the run and raised over £26,000 for the charity. We all wore 'Sally' T- Shirts and it was an amazing day, culminating in a barbecue in our garden for our runners and their families. 

We also held a Summer Ball to celebrate Sally's 18th birthday for Sally's friends and family friends. There was a champagne reception, a dinner, disco, chocolate fountain, casino and fireworks. Sally would have loved it!

We feel that it is unbelievable what has happened to us and can't believe that in this century children and teenagers are dying from this disease.  As it is so difficult for professionals to recognise, there needs to be a vaccine to stop this happening in the future.  For this reason we are keen followers of the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Julie, Jerry and Kate Woodhouse
April 2009

Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia
Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia
A major cause of meningitis