I remember that I was losing my consciousness on and off. As the time went by I could not remember the staff in A&E who I’ve known for long time. I could not remember the names and time to time what the doctors were telling me. I felt like I am drifting away. The A&E doctors and nurses were knew I was very ill, but they did not know what the infection was. I was on continuous IV fluid as my blood press kept dropping and was on IV antibiotics to fight the infection whatever it was.
Just after mid-day I was transferred to an acute medical unit where I stayed until 6pm, I was seen by a nurse and she kept IV fluid going and continued with IV antibiotics. I was having short term memory loss time to time and I felt heavy headed and sleepy. At 6pm I was transferred to another ward and isolated in a single room. My blood pressure was still low and I felt very tired, confused and sleepy.
Even at that moment it did not cross my mind that I have caught one of the most dangerous infections from my patients which could end my life for ever. At 8pm I was assessed by the respiratory consultant and his registrar. At this moment I was talking as a normal person, but nobody knew there was a dangerous infection that was eating my life. The consultant told me that my IV fluid should be continued over night as my blood pressure is low and IV antibiotics that I was on should be continued until they get the report of the blood culture. But they did not know the antibiotics I were on were not suitable for the infection which I had.
Due to low blood pressure I collapsed in the ward toilet that night and hurt my both hands. My left hand was worse than the right. The following morning my both hands were swollen and painful. And I felt exhausted. I felt like I had a tight band around my head and the pressure was extreme. My body was aching; I was struggling with my memory and my shoulders were stiff.
Around 2pm on the 15th I was peri-arrested on the ward and the respiratory team, medical team, stroke team and neurology team were rushed in to save me. At this moment my body system was shutting down due to extreme infection and I was fighting for life. My friend who was there at that time told me later, that all medical professionals who attended to save me were extremely good and worked hard to save my life.
After this episode, the doctors thought that the antibiotics I was on were not answering and decided to treat me for meningitis. And when the doctors were assessing me they noted meningitis spots on my left leg, right thigh and left arm. I became very photo phobic and staff had to black out the whole room I was in. They covered the large window with a few blankets, and I could not bear to see the ceiling lights. I had the most extreme headache that I have ever experienced in my life.
Reports of my blood culture indicated I had bacterial meningitis. I was treated for this with certain antibiotics which are for meningitis for ten days. The doctors and nurses struggled to take blood samples from me, as all my veins were dry and collapsed. I had to be on continuous slow IV fluid as it was the only way they could keep my vein open to give me antibiotics. I was hospitalized for 14 days and I was very happy to get home.
Once I got home I did not know my life was going to be so difficult. I started to suffer from after effects of the meningitis. I was suffering from a bad headaches and followed by an extreme sharp pain in my both eyes, nausea, joints pain , photo-phobia and short term memory loss. I was unable to look after myself and my cooking, cleaning and washing etc was done by my friends. I could not go into a crowded places like supermarket as I felt so disoriented and confused due to the loud noises.
I was so frightened about my cognitive function as I could not remember simple things. At various occasions I left the cooker on and taps running which I did not know I was doing. I had to write down what time my medications were due, where I was putting my wrist watch, nails cutter, books and mobile phone etc. Because I put them somewhere and a few minutes later I could not remember where I put them. The scariest thing was that I forgot to turn the cooker off a few occasions and the following mornings I found that the cooker was on and the kitchen was extremely hot.
I was suffering from headaches and photo phobia almost 5 months after I had the meningitis, and at the end, one of the medical physicians advised me that it will be good to get an opinion from a neurologist. My GP referred me to a hospital neurologist and he has suggested that my headache needs to be treat with Amitriptyline. Since I started to take this medication my headache is better, but I am suffering from a terrible side effect which is sleepiness. I now feel sleepy, lethargic and tired most of the time. Almost six months later, I was left with some short term memory loss, intermittent headache, photo-phobia and tiredness.
I am still on sick leave from my dearly beloved nursing job and I am very anxious to go back into my duty or hospital environment, as I know I caught this deadly infection, bacterial meningitis from the hospital.
Written by: Chandra Taylor