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A is for After-effects

9th May 2024

It’s Viral Meningitis Awareness Week (6 – 10 May) and today we’re focusing on the letter A, which stands for After-effects.

a is for after-effects

At Meningitis Now every day we hear people’s stories about their battle with this disease. Most people who have viral meningitis do go on to make a good and full recovery fortunately, but for some they have to adapt to a new way of life as they continue to struggle with the ongoing impact of the disease’s after-effects.

With viral meningitis the major after-effects include headaches, exhaustion and memory loss.

Single mum Camilla fell ill in August last year with headache, sickness and neck stiffness. As her condition worsened the 31-year-old, from Ingleton in North Yorkshire, was rushed to hospital, where viral meningitis was diagnosed.

Long and painful road ahead

She told us: “I still suffer with horrendous after-effects and have an extremely long and painful road ahead, but I’m fighting every day to get my life back.

“I can’t do the things I used to do, such as horse riding. I struggle when it comes to a full day out. I become exhausted. My right side has been heavily impacted, and when I become very tired my speech is slurred and I forget words.

“My little boy is just about to turn 4 now and he has been absolutely amazing throughout the whole thing. He fully understands when mummy is tired or mummy’s body can’t function properly.

“I was forced to leave my job due to the lack of support and understanding from the management team. Meningitis has changed my whole life, but I am so thankful every morning that I survived.”

Read more on her story here

Battling the after-effects

Helen told us a similar story. She fell ill whilst working abroad in May 2015. Viral meningitis was diagnosed and to this day she is still battling the after-effects of her illness.

“When I was allowed home I was medically fit, but I couldn’t walk properly, had slurred speech and couldn’t write.

“I saw a physiotherapist, who gave me a walking stick, which, in time, sorted out my walking. I had a pad and formed letters every day until I could write again. In time my speech too sorted itself out.

“Since meningitis things have never been the same. I can’t teach anymore because of fatigue. I have developed fibromyalgia and occipital neuralgia as a result of the meningitis.

“The fatigue and the headaches are the worst. Sadly, I am only able to work a few hours a week, but I love my job as a learning support assistant. I have to pace myself.

“Once you have accepted that it’s not going to go away, you learn to be happy with what you have and accept that there will be days that feel like hell. I have learnt to enjoy the good days and cope with the bad ones.”

Read more of Helen’s story

If you’ve got a question about the after-effects of viral meningitis, either for yourself or a family member, get in touch with our friendly and helpful nurse-led Helpline team and find out how we can support you. Contact the team on 0808 80 10 388 or by emailing helpline@meningitisnow.org.

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