Meningitis. The kind that attacked the brain and had obviously affected my hearing and my wandering eye. And my legs.
It’s a really difficult thing to explain how you want to move your legs but that you can’t. The doctors scraped sticks up the soles of my feet looking firstly at my legs, I suppose for signs of movement, and secondly at my parents. I kind of made out words like, stairs at home, wheelchair, paralysis. Surely they couldn’t be talking about me?
And then there seemed to be movement. So off to physio I went, where I stumbled and fell but eventually put one foot in front of the other, somewhat resembling walking. I remember being applauded by the other patients on my ward when I made the short distance from bed to bathroom on my own two feet, propped by my Mum and a nurse but no wheelchair.
I was 18 at the time, about to start living, with ‘A’ levels due to be sat and Uni to think about but all that changed.
Those weeks shaped my future. With physio, speech and hearing therapy and bright flesh-coloured hearing aids, I embarked on adult life.
And 20 years later I am who I am. I love my life and I love who I became and if meningitis hadn’t got me when I was 18 who knows where I’d be?
And the legs? They started working properly although there is numbness, which is actually a benefit in leg waxing. I’m also a little prone to falling over even without a couple of vodkas. And my right leg is a little more uncontrolled and heavy footed then my left which my boyfriend endearingly calls ‘slappityfoot’ syndrome.
And the hearing? Well, despite being told by the doctors that it would come back, which led to years of waking up ‘in hope’, it didn’t. A profound loss in the left ear and a mild to moderate one in the right which now sports a more discreet in-the-ear hearing aid. Over the years I’ve missed conversations, been called stupid and ignorant, made my own lyrics up to songs I can’t hear properly, been stared blankly at by people and even been known to take my hearing aid out when I don’t want to listen to someone, but I cope and it’s made me who I am.
And the word that my family, friends and people who know me use the most when talking about me: resilient.