Meningitis in your words

Zoey Clayton's story

  • Location: England
  • Categories: Pneumococcal
  • Age: Adult 25-59
  • Relationship: Partner
  • Outcome: Bereavement
Zoey Clayton

I lost my 45 year old partner Dan and the daddy of our little girl Lily on Christmas Eve 2014.

Dan started feeling ill on December 19, the Friday before Christmas. Dan was a successful guy at work. He was a grafter, a hard worker and a lovely dad. He got home and he was absolutely shattered as he had been working really hard that week.

On the Saturday morning he woke up and said he was going to go to the walk-in centre – in the 13 years we’d been together he hadn’t been to the doctor once. He said he didn’t feel like driving but I was making mince pies so I said for him to get a taxi. Dan was diagnosed with an ear infection and got some ear spray and pain killers.

"Meningitis is awful - this disease has cost me my partner and my three year old daughter her daddy"

That afternoon, we were due to travel to Chester to spend the weekend with Dan’s best friend and decided to carry on as planned but he spent most of the weekend in bed and we went home again on the Sunday.

Dan went off to bed and I took him some paracetamol, then later in the evening I heard something upstairs so I went up and found him curled up in Lily’s bed. I knew something really wasn’t right so I phoned 111.

Dan was getting very agitated and uncoordinated and in the end I said we needed an ambulance. He was taken to A&E at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital and scans showed he had swelling on the left side of the brain.

I didn’t know what we’d be dealing with until 9pm that evening, when they said it was ‘life-changing’, then within 30 minutes it went from ‘life-changing’ to ‘critical’ and there was a 99 per cent chance he wouldn’t survive.

Dan was put on a life support machine but, despite the medical team’s best efforts, he was declared brain-dead and he died of pneumococcal meningitis on the morning of Christmas Eve.

I was devastated. You have your life sorted and within literally 48 hours, your life just turns upside down.

Meningitis is awful - this disease has cost me my partner and my three year old daughter her daddy, and I’m a single parent now. Everyone needs to be aware it can strike anyone, it takes people’s lives so quickly I thought meningitis was just something children get.

Dan was a fit and healthy man who loved running and completed the Manchester 10K a number of times, always hoping to beat his previous time. This year, a group of 16 friends and family members including me, my sister Kate Smith and Dan’s best friend Richard did the Manchester 10k and we have raised over £25,000 in his memory.

Zoey Claytton
December 2015