When I got home after this hospital visit I continued to suffer from chest infections and then developed pulmonary emboli. At this stage my daughter gave up her life for the rest of the year to care for me, I needed quite a lot of care. I was quite sick and had no patience or concentration, nor much ability to care for myself.
After 13 and a half weeks of torture, the Minerva collar (for the broken neck), came off and then I could start to recover and also begin to deal with the after effects of meningitis, which had seemed less important than the broken neck at the time. I have been left deaf in my left ear; have tinnitus and issues with my balance/ dizziness. At present I am trying to get my life back together and am hoping to be able to drive in the future. It is only now that I can read about the experiences that others have had, and find these comforting. I may even, in time, start up a New Zealand support group.
I have realised that this disease not only affects me but has had a huge emotional - and financial - cost on the whole family. I have also realised that to survive and recover from this you not only need good medical staff but a supportive family. I was extremely fortunate in this regard. I was in hospital for five weeks altogether and, despite the hospital being 100km away, my husband and daughters came every day. They were also great whilst I was in a coma; I know how important this is now and encourage others to talk to their loved ones as the message does pass through the barrier of consciousness (or lack of it!).
At 52 years old I get a bit sulky at having to use a walking stick, especially as my 80 year old mother doesn't, but remind myself that at least I am walking, and able to hear through one ear. I have found that this unilateral hearing has a strange side effect of noises always appearing to come from the exact opposite direction. Conversations in our house often seem to be peppered with "what" and "you don't need to shout". I can't imagine how disabling total deafness is, or rather, I can!