Shaney’s experience

19th October 2015

Shaney’s experience with viral meningitis left her feeling shocked and confused as she was unable to remember what had happened to her

Shaney spent two months in hospital after suffering with a range of symptoms, including a headache and sickness. Initially she was diagnosed with flu by her GP, and given anti-sickness tablets and co-codamol for her headache.

However, the following day her symptoms got worse and she began suffering with photophobia. The following morning, Shaney was found unconscious and rushed to hospital. She was admitted to critical care, where she was given two lumbar punctures and put into an induced coma.

After two weeks on life support and a ventilator, Shaney had a tracheotomy. The following day she opened her eyes for the first time, but soon after she developed Bickerstaff’s encephalitis, a rare inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system.

Shaney tells us about her recovery:

“I am still unable to remember any of what happened.  I was having physio in a side room and my first memory was the day I was moved to the ward in critical care, where I had more physio and learnt to communicate by blinking my eyes.”

“My mum was told that they didn't expect it to take this long for me to learn to move again. She panicked and I remember she said ‘Shaney, can you move your little finger?’ and I tried and slowly started to move.”

“I then started speaking to my boyfriend’s dad. Slowly I was getting there and I had my tracheotomy removed. That’s when I started to realise that I wasn't in a dream.”

“I was moved to a neurological ward, where physio was given to me every day during the week but not the weekend. My boyfriend got me up walking, because I kept crying or phoning my mum at 3am to come and get me to take me home - I just wanted to go home because it was a shock to realise I had been left in this vegetated state and unable to remember how or why.”

“All I could think was I might be left like this for the rest of my life. But, on 11th December, I was discharged and allowed to go home!”

“I am so lucky that I didn’t have any major after-effects, although I have just found out that my brain doesn't connect with my bladder, so I may have to have a spinal operation, to help me pass urine. I thought it was where I had my catheter in for so long, but thinking how I could have been left, I guess it's a small price to pay to have my life back.”

“I'm really grateful to the ICU doctors and nurses, but I feel that doctors need to learn the symptoms and not wait for a rash for further examination because the next person could not be as lucky as me.”