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Alice C's story

29th July 2018

Twenty-four-year old Alice, from Thornton Cleveleys in Lancashire, started to feel ill at work but just put it down to a bug. However, her condition deteriorated quickly and before she knew it she was on her way to hospital in an ambulance. She recounts her experience here

Alice C's story

“I started feeling a bit poorly when I was at work.

"My son, Marshall, had had a stomach bug so I put it down to me catching the same thing.

“When I got home from work my husband, Craig, looked after our children, Delilah and Marshall, 4 and 18 months, and I went to bed. I thought I would feel better in the morning but I woke with a bad headache, which didn’t go with paracetamol and continued to get worse throughout the day.

“By the following evening I was in complete agony in my head - the worst headache I had ever felt. I felt my head was going to explode. I couldn’t sleep or even lie down. I crawled downstairs. By this time I was also vomiting blood every five minutes, the light hurt my eyes so badly and I was starting to get confused.

On my way to hospital

“Next thing I knew I was on my way to hospital in an ambulance with my dad. The pains in my neck and head were unbearable and I was still vomiting blood. We were unsure what was going on.

“After a long night in A& E I was taken for a brain scan. That came back all clear but I was told they wanted to do a lumbar puncture. At this point I was having spasms and my body was jerking constantly.

“I remember lying there in hospital, unable to move my head from the pain but watching the royal wedding, squinting at the screen as the light hurt my eyes.

Husband holding my hand

“They came in to do the lumbar puncture. It took four attempts as I have a funny curve in my spine. It was not a nice experience but my husband was there holding my hand the whole time and making sure I kept still, which helped. Finally, they got the fluid they needed to test.

“I remember the microbiologist staying late and not going home, waiting in the lab at the hospital to test my spinal fluid. Within 10 minutes the doctor was back to tell me I had meningitis running round my brain. I was put on a drip straight away. I was told it was viral meningitis, but they wanted to treat me for bacterial as well.

“I was told I would be kept in hospital for a few days and monitored, but the next day I was taken straight off the drip and told I could go home. I was so glad to go home but both my family and I were concerned at how poorly I was.

Deteriorated very rapidly

“One day after I got home I deteriorated very rapidly. The head pain, photophobia, sickness and neck pain returned with a vengeance. I collapsed on the floor and was taken back to hospital. I am so sad my children saw that and find it a really hard time to think about.

“I stayed in hospital for five days after that on a drip on a cross contamination ward, some of the worst days of my life. Unable to move or open my eyes, I was not getting any better, feeling so poorly and missing my family so much. I was going in and out of sleep a lot and unable to stay awake or eat or drink anything. I lost eight pounds in those five days and was very weak.

“I struggled when I got home with severe tiredness. I used to feel annoyed when people would ask me questions and I would have to use my brain to think of something as I got so confused. I struggled getting my words out a lot and had a bit of short-term memory loss.

Feeling mostly better

“Three months on and I am feeling mostly better. I still have very dizzy days and get brain fog. I still get tired easily. I also have bad back pain, especially in my spine from the lumbar puncture (I am going through tests for my spine currently) but I am back baking cakes again, which is what I love to do.

“I struggled with going out in busy places as my ears were extremely sensitive and I wore sunglasses for weeks afterwards as the light still hurt my eyes. I felt panicked a lot being in contact with other people, as I was petrified of ever getting it again.

“Meningitis has scared me but it has also made me realise never to take my health for granted and if you feel there is something wrong then act on it, you know your own body. I am so happy to be home and playing with my children again, I missed them so much and thought about them every second I was in hospital.

Meningitis can happen at any age

“When I first started getting poorly I thought to myself that these are the symptoms of meningitis, but thought no, adults can’t get meningitis. I think awareness that meningitis can happen at any age needs to be spread.

“The whole episode has shaken us all up. My children were very clingy as I had been away from them, especially my little boy who is a mummy’s boy. He didn’t understand what was going on so got upset if I left the room for a minute as he wasn’t sure when I would be back.

“My husband was amazing throughout the whole situation. He looked after me and the kids amazingly well and we wouldn’t have got through it without him. My mum and dad and sister stayed at the hospital for as long as they could and all helped look after my children and keep them in a normal happy routine.”