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Linda Galli

Scotland Bacterial meningitis Adult 25-59 Full Recovery
Linda Galli

At the age of 49, I contracted Bacterial Meningitis. I had a bad cold for two weeks before Christmas. On the 28th December 2014 my husband, Silvio, noticed that I was unusually quiet and burnt the dinner. I have no recollection of the next day or the days that followed.

Silvio said we went to bed at our usual time, but in the middle of the night I woke up screaming that I had a pain in my ear, for which he brought me pain killers. He said I seemed to settle, then an hour had passed and he switched on the light and found me to be awake but unresponsive. He phoned an ambulance, they worked on me for ½ hour before taking me to hospital. After tests, a nurse that Silvio knew said that I had an abscess in my ear, I would be fine. A couple of hours and a lumbar puncture later BM was diagnosed and he was told to gather the family and prepare for the worst.

"At first I didn’t know what had happened, I thought it was 2001. When they told me it was 2014 I thought I had been in a coma for 13 years!"

I was transferred to Southern General in Glasgow, put into an induced coma. They started me on IV antibiotics (not penicillin as I have an allergy) and since my records showed that I hadn’t had any for 15 years they worked straight away. On the 2nd of January, I was breathing by myself and after a couple more days the rest of the tubes were removed.

At first I didn’t know what had happened, I thought it was 2001. When they told me it was 2014 I thought I had been in a coma for 13 years! I recognised all my family and could speak to them, although I was seeing double (I was told later by them that I had a turned eye). As I was lying there I kept thinking “what’s wrong with my brain, I can’t think straight”.

After 8 days they put dinner in front of me, but I had to get help because couldn’t manage my knife in my right hand or hold a cup. I had to be taken to the toilet, shower, brushing my teeth. I had problems with my balance, all I wanted to do was sleep.

A fortnight later I was discharged and slowly but surely, with the best of care from my husband, I started to recover. I gave myself goals - to get up the stairs unaided (they had to fit a banister for me to hold on to), learn to eat tidily, using a knife and fork, shower and dress myself. All this took time and effort, the slightest thing tired me out.

I attended a speech therapist every week for five months. At first I struggled to find the words, I’d think them but something in my brain was making it difficult for the words to get to my mouth… the speech therapist said it was brain damage.

A routine MRI and CT scan showed a gap in my Mastoid bone that requires surgery to prevent a similar infection getting to my brain. At the time of writing, 3/3/16, I’m still waiting.

Then the goals got bigger… my 50th birthday was in June and my goal was to sing Karaoke the way I did before BM! And so I did… in a packed pub I brought the house down and all my family cried their eyes out. That moment was a milestone for me and it somehow propelled me forward. Next goal was to help my daughter plan her wedding in Oct 15. That was tough, forcing my brain to think for itself and to remember. But I did it, and it was a day to remember. I was bursting with pride as my son walked me down the aisle to my seat.

"I used to be a touch typist - I still have full fluent movement on my left hand, but on my right I can only use my index finger so spreadsheets escape me."

I used to be a chocolatier, a job that you need both hands for, and I can now do this again with a few adaptations here and there.

I used to be a touch typist - I still have full fluent movement on my left hand, but on my right I can only use my index finger so spreadsheets escape me.

I would say that I am 85% fully recovered. I still tire easy, which causes speech problems. I still struggle with my right hand, and for that reason I don’t drive. I’ve noticed myself a bit down in the dumps at times, but I put it down to fact that my life can’t be full speed ahead as it once was. My blurred vision and dizziness has gone. I can cook, bake bread, do my husband’s paperwork and make chocolates for his shop.

I know I have been very lucky… some aren’t so. My advice to those who are going through this - never give up. Give yourself goals, achieve them and thank God every day that you are alive to tell the tale.

Linda Galli
March 2016
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