Meningitis in your words

Sharon Norgrove's story

  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Hearing problems
Sharon Norgrove

Leading up to me being so poorly, I had been living through a very stressful period due to a lengthy and complex family court process.  One day soon after, the sickness started. I kissed my daughter goodbye as my sister arrived to collect her, I was too ill to move by this time. The next 13 hours I spent throwing up, having the runs and with a banging head ache. Then the stomach cramps started, huge crippling pain in my right side, my mum had come over to see me and had called 111, 3 times but no one would ring me back until after 11pm where I was told to go to the hospital in Worcester within an hour, my temperature was through the roof and by this time I just wanted to sleep, I told the healthcare worker I didn’t want to, I would go to bed and see how I am tomorrow, she did not give up, she said ‘you asked for help and you now need to go to the hospital so you can be treated’ she then called my mum who arrived within 20 minutes to take me to the hospital, I was covered in my own excrement and couldn’t get dressed, she helped dress me and took me to the hospital, outside a & e mum said ‘get out here and I’ll go and park up’ so I mustered up the energy and got myself out the car, the security guard was saying something to me but by this time I was not understanding the spoken word and he let me in.

My mum joined me and I was assessed almost immediately. I was then called into the nurses station where the nurse put me on a drip and sat me in the corridor waiting room I asked her ‘can I just lie on the waiting room chairs, I’m so tired’ she said she would fetch my mum. Mum sat next to me and I put my head on her shoulder. The nurse came over to me to let me know a room was free and I asked that she please turn out the lights. After that I dozed in and out of consciousness, I had extreme pain all over my body caused by the sepsis and my head was pounding, the nurses kept saying ‘your brain is swelling’ I would say, ‘I need to go home’ then try and get up, they would tell me I had to stay in to get better. Mum says I was in resus at this point, my sister joined her to help mum understand what the Drs were saying and doing and to give my mum a break.

I was then moved to ICU, over the next few days I dozed on and off not really conscious.inside all I could think of was my children, I need to get home I need to see my children, I’d rip out my IV lines and try to get up but I was so weak I wouldn’t get far. By the Wednesday I hadn’t eaten and had just been quite sick throughout my waking hours, which were not many, the nurse told my mum if I didn’t eat they would put me on a machine to feed me, she said ‘tell her to eat’ I remember waking with a banana being put in front of my face and a lady saying ‘eat, you must chew’ I took a bite and refused the rest. She then put a spoon in front of my face with some yogurt on, she said ‘eat', I took a mouthful.

The day after I was moved to an infectious diseases ward where I was told I had meningococcal and sepsis and that I had been very poorly. My speech was poor and the left side of my body felt separated from the right. I was in pain all the time despite having pain killers on a drip. I saw various consultants who told me I needed an MRI, I had one and it confirmed I would not have any lasting damage to my brain, I was told I was a medical mystery. Around two days later I started getting myself on the commode, it felt like a win to be able to do something so basic for myself. I then began eating, keeping some food down. My mum gave my phone and I was able to call my children from hospital. I got out of the hospital 16 days after admission.

The week my children returned from holiday the children’s father allowed my daughter to visit, she was very brave, the picture of me and my daughter is the day she visited. I could not even pick up the kettle, I was weak and in pain. I suffered a couple of fainting incidents and begged my neighbour not to call an ambulance as I knew it would take forever to see my children again if I was admitted to hospital. Without my mum and my neighbour I wound not have my daughter with me now. My recovery has been a necessity, I needed to get better so I can continue to fight the legal process.

The biggest part of this journey has been accepting help, I’m really lucky to have a wonderful team at work who have sent me gifts, picked me up to give me sometime outside the four walls that became a depressive prison and lifted me up when I was down. My strength is returning but I have suffered with sight difficulties, ear problems and cognitive impairment such as ability to handle stress has changed, thinking is often quite scrambled and my memory is poor. Some days I have bag loads of energy and some days I sleep 18 hours and my body just hurts, I’m not me but I am stronger and I will not let any illness or person stand in the way of being a parent, they were the ones that made me get better, knowing I had to be there for them and stand up for us.

Sharon Norgrove
June 2023

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