At 6.30am on 2 August 2011, I woke up feeling very unwell. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong, but I decided to lie down in the lounge so I didn’t wake my husband.
Minutes later, I was running to the bathroom and projectile vomiting. My head was pounding, my stomach hurt, I was shaking uncontrollably, my eyes were super-sensitive to light (photophobia) and I couldn’t speak coherently (dysarthria). From this point on the rest of the day was a blur, as I fell in and out of consciousness, so my husband Keith writes from here . . .
“It was obvious that Heather was seriously ill so, I rang our GP immediately. The ‘on call’ doctor came out and tried to examine her, but Heather was delirious and not making any sense. The doctor called out the paramedics, who arrived within minutes, and immediately took her to hospital.
Heather was admitted into the Medical Assessment Unit. She needed X-Rays, a CT scan and blood samples, but this was difficult as Heather had become so dehydrated. I was shocked at how fast this illness had taken hold. She didn’t know me, she couldn’t remember her own name or her birthday, and worst of all, she was completely unintelligible - speaking like someone who’d had a stroke. It was very frightening to watch someone you love in such a serious state. Finally, a diagnosis of meningo-encephalitis was made.
Later that evening, having stabilised, Heather was put in an Isolation Room on a high dependency ward. They needed to find out whether she had bacterial or viral meningitis. The initial tests seemed to suggest it was viral, but the hospital had to be certain, so a lumbar puncture was arranged for two days later. The spinal fluid was couriered to special laboratory and six days later the results confirmed that it was an acute attack of viral meningitis/encephalitis. Heather spent twelve days in hospital.”