I had been ill with a cold all week, but having just started a new business, I soldiered on like so many people do. It was Christmas morning 2004, and I was preparing the dinner as I always did but I had acquired an earache overnight which was getting progressively worse. Eventually it became unmanageable so I went to see the emergency doctor at our local hospital. He gave me antibiotics and sent me home. Christmas dinner was ruined of course, so everybody had cheese sandwiches and I went to bed. I remember being sick then the next thing I remember was coming round in intensive care just after new year to be told I had pneumococcal meningitis and had been on a ventilator for the week. Christmas day was on a Saturday and as far as my wife, Jackie, was concerned I appeared to be improving, but on the Tuesday night I took a turn for the worse and she called an ambulance. I stayed in hospital for a further three weeks before coming home in late January.
The immediate after effects were various. I had one eye that wouldn't close (which spooked everybody) and also couldn't see too well. My left leg sometimes wouldn't do as it was told and my left arm was in need of some physiotherapy to make it properly functional. My balance was so bad I couldn't walk in a straight line to save my life. The worst thing though was a feeling of total lethargy, disinterest and depression. In the March I tried to go back to work just for two hours a day. I used to answer the phone and do odd jobs but it was very difficult to concentrate on anything. I certainly couldn't cope with two things at once. I suppose it was around the 18 month mark by the time I was able to cope with life again. I worked for another four years before I decided I wasn't enjoying my work anymore and was struggling to do it properly. I retired early in 2010.