I was just a normal young girl and had just started secondary school in the summer at the age of 12. It was about a month or so before Christmas and like everyone else I was looking forward to it.
I will never forget the day for as long as I live... I headed to school, walking like I usually did, the school day went as always, and couldn’t wait till it was home time!
Later that day after school, I was outside with a bunch of friends and I felt a growing pain in my left ear, I ignored it and carried on messing around with my friends. This pain started to get worse as the evening went on and I ended up heading back inside to the comfort of my home. I remember telling my Mum I didn't feel too good and I all I wanted to do was lie down and close my eyes. It was then things rapidly took a turn for the worse. I had a dislike of bright lights, my neck was stiff and I could hardly move, I began being sick also.
My Mum called the doctor... (bearing in mind at the time there wasn't really much known about meningitis) our doctor didn't really know what was going on and think just put it down to a viral infection. My mum at this time, her instincts were kicking in big style and just knew it was something more serious. The doctor gave Mum a few pills for me to take and told her if I was sick afterwards then I would need to go hospital. The doctor wasn't even out the door when I threw right back up again.
Things are a bit of a blur after this, I remember being carried to the ambulance by my Dad (he wouldn't let the paramedics do it), next I remember is laying in a hospital bed in and out of consciousness... I was spiralling downwards so fast. Then I was awake again... I remember looking all around me, just taking in my surroundings and wondering where I was. I could see others moving around my bed and talking but I couldn't understand what was being said.
"I couldn't understand why this disease had robbed me of something so very precious and something we all take for granted."
To cut my story short a little, I had lost all of my hearing. Meningitis had taken it from me. I remember being told I would never hear again and this hurt very, very much. I couldn't understand why this disease had robbed me of something so very precious and something we all take for granted. And I was angry, so very angry to the point it changed me so much as a young girl I more or less became someone else. Gone was the young girl I was before and in her place was someone who was lashing out at the world and her family with hurt and hate inside. I just couldn't grasp the fact that I would never ever hear again and kept thinking "no... It will come back, it will just take some time". I went through so many tests, brain scans... I was poked and prodded and I screamed and cried every step of the way, even fought the nurses when they attempted to do a lumbar puncture (which I had to be held down for). I didn't get any counselling at all.
I was put back into the same school and I was glad yes, but I felt so very isolated. I couldn't understand anyone and had so many problems following conversations and the teachers within the school. I DID have someone come into the school to sit with me in some classes, he wrote everything down for me and I absolutely HATED it. I felt all eyes were on me and that everyone could see just how different I was from them. And still, I kept thinking, "hang in there, you will hear again soon".
"I struggled every day in the hearing world and I still do,"
Years passed, I left school with no qualifications. I think I began to accept the loss of my hearing the older I got, I was so very stubborn though in accepting this. I struggled every day in the hearing world and I still do, very much. It's an invisible disability that others can't see unless they know me personally and I have had many times where people think I am just plain ignorant for not responding to them when they speak to me.
Sometimes I do feel like screaming at people and giving them a wee piece of my mind when I get a certain "look" from some. Just to say "you really don't understand what I went through unless you have experienced it for yourself" so just please don't judge and look at me like there is nothing wrong with my hearing.
I was fortunate to be able to speak before meningitis took hold and I can still speak just fine to this day (although I tend to either talk too loud or not loud enough and struggle to remember how words are pronounced) but I get by with the help of family and a good few friends as well as my husband and son. I have bad balance problems and get very wary of meeting new people.
There's a lot of things I struggle with to be honest. But at the end of the day, I am now older and a wee bit wiser and know that things could have been so much worse for me for I’m alive, I’m here to this day. I didn't have any rash... only some of the symptoms of bacterial meningitis. I was a very lucky young girl but I survived and I am a survivor, so many have lost their lives to this awful disease. I would never wish it upon anyone, ever.
I got married in June 2019, it was the best day of my life, right up there with giving birth to my son. I felt very blessed... life is good and peaceful right now... long may it continue.