Harriet’s experience

19th October 2015

Harriet hadn’t been feeling quite right for a while so decided to take a week off from uni. After getting herself checked out, she was told she could be suffering with diabetes or anemia

Harriet, who was 18 at the time, returned to uni but just a week later she woke up in the early hours of the morning shaking with cold. She was also suffering with a headache, lethargy, nose pain and dehydration.

Harriet had her temperature taken and she was in fact extremely hot. She was sweating but still layering up as she felt cold, and was drinking glass after glass of water but still feeling thirsty. 

Needing another drink, Harriet went to the bathroom for water where she collapsed. Luckily a friend was there to take her back to bed and call an ambulance. She was taken straight to A & E for a number of tests, including a lumbar puncture.

Harriet was diagnosed with meningococcal group W (Men W) meningitis and septicaemia, and spent a total of 12 days in hospital, six of these in the HDU.

We spoke to Harriet as she remembered the terrifying experience she had in hospital: 

“I was in such a bad state - I had a high heart rate, low blood pressure and felt very weak. I was extremely dehydrated, my kidneys were failing and my veins couldn't stay open.”

“I was admitted to the High Dependency Unit, where lines were placed into me and drips were coming out of my neck and arms. I was fighting for my life.” 

Following her experience, Harriet is keen to help educate other students and teenagers about the disease and how much it can change your life.

“I was told Men W was one of the rare strains of meningitis which had a high mortality rate so they were shocked I survived.”

“I am very happy to still be alive and well. The only after-effect I have had is that I am now partly deaf in my right ear. I want people to feel comfortable to ask me about my illness so I can make them aware of the disease - people don't understand how serious it was.”