But it’s been a long road to recovery – and she is still dealing with the after-effects. She told us her story:
“I am a primary school teacher and was just beginning my first job since graduating from university. On 22nd February 2016 I developed a cold but thought nothing of it as I work with children and picked up illnesses all the time. As the week went on I got progressively worse but put it down to the fact I wasn’t letting my body rest and just carried on.
“On Friday 26th I woke up feeling worse than ever but went to work and got a doctor’s appointment for that evening. At the doctors I rang my mum to come and get me as I didn’t feel I could drive the five minute journey home. But the doctor assured me I had a bad case of the flu and just needed to rest and if I wasn’t any better by Monday to not go to work.
“Looking back now I have no memory of my mum picking me up from the doctors or the rest of that evening.
“My parents were having to lift me out of bed so I could visit the bathroom and every time they got me up I was sick again. Then I remember standing but falling to the floor and being unable to get up. I remember my dad saying “get up” and just responding “I can’t”. He then proceeded to say “if you don’t get up I’m calling an ambulance” - to which I said “go on then.
I passed out
“This is when my parents realised how serious this was as I had a huge fear of anything to do with hospitals. My dad then picked me up and carried me to bathroom where I passed out and he and my mum had to carry me back to bed. This is when they discovered the rash all over my back.
“My dad immediately called an ambulance whilst my mum tried to keep me awake. The ambulance took half an hour to arrive and when they did it was a fast response car with two ambulances. I have no memory of the paramedics arriving or all the treatment they had to give before transporting me to hospital. I woke up the next day briefly in intensive care, to my fiancé and parents asking who my boss was so they could contact them.
“Between Sunday 28th February and Thursday 4th March, I only have small bits of memory - for example, their many attempts to put a feeding tube in and the time I spent in an MRI which I remember because of the loud noises. Upon regaining consciousness on Friday 5th March, I was paralysed on the right side of my body due to two brain infarctions (strokes) and with very slurred speech. However, from there the only way was up.
“I was moved from intensive care on Monday 8th to the high dependency stroke ward where I began intense physio to build the strength back up in my right side. Then by Friday 12th I was being discharged early to go home with daily nurses and physios for the next three weeks.
“That’s where things became very challenging once again. The headaches I struggled with daily were debilitating and made everyone worry the meningitis was coming back, plus the pain I was feeling in my right leg every evening which made it difficult to sleep.
“Every day I got stronger and stronger with the help of my fiancé, parents and sister. I set my self the goal of getting back to work by July which was in four months time. Everyone told me to take one day at a time and just see how things go as I was still very poorly and had lost a lot of weight and muscle. However, I did it! I returned to work on a phased return the first week of July and returned full time in the September.
“Three years on I am married and expecting my first baby. I still suffer with migraines from time to time and get pain in my right arm and leg when I’m run down. My eye sight in my right eye has been affected from the infarctions but it is helped with glasses. Lastly, I have been diagnosed with a multi-system autoimmune disease affecting my blood, liver and kidneys which they think has stemmed from my meningitis. However this was only discovered at the beginning of my pregnancy in October 2018 and until I deliver they cannot investigate further.
“I am very lucky to have survived this horrible illness and still get scared whenever I am unwell but am improving.”