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Anthony’s story

6th November 2014

Anthony Metcalf, 39, from Northumberland has had the awful luck to contract meningitis not once but three times – meningococcal once and pneumococcal twice – without ever having a rash! He tells his story here

Anthony’s story

“This is a long story, because I have unfortunately contracted meningitis three times.

The first time was in 1999. I woke up for work at my usual time of 7am with an uncomfortable headache, but took some painkillers, got ready for work and made my way into work."

Insisted it was flu

“When I arrived at work at 9am my head was slightly worse, by 9.15 it was unbearable, so I went home to try and sleep it off. After a couple of hours, we rang the GP who kindly came out to the house, examined me and prescribed painkillers. He said it was the 'flu'. Two hours later and I was getting worse, drifting in and out of consciousness. The doctor called again and still insisted it was flu and I was told to take more fluids and painkillers.

Then the vomiting started, on top of my other symptoms of neck stiffness, aversion to bright lights and sore joints, especially my legs. The doctor came again and reassured us it was flu. Teatime came, and an out of hours doctor visited me. He looked at me once, rang an ambulance, gave me an antibiotic injection and admitted me straight into hospital."

Hit me like a truck

“The second time, I was at work having lunch and a headache hit me like a truck! Again, I took painkillers as I do suffer from the occasional headache from my first episode of meningitis. I headed home to try and sleep it off again, but the symptoms worsened. My head was really bad, my neck, bright lights - I thought I’ve been here before.

This time I got into the car and went straight to A&E. I was taken straight through as I collapsed in the reception area. Talking with the Doctors, I found it difficult to get my symptoms across to them, as they believed it’s unheard of to contract meningitis twice. Eventually after a CT scan and lumbar puncture it was confirmed there was bacteria in my CSF and treatment continued."

The third time

“The third time is still fresh in my mind, although slightly hazy because of the drugs. My headache started again on the morning of 4th December last year and I treated it the usual way with painkillers. But it worsened throughout the day and I went home at 5pm, and went straight to bed. By 7pm I could not bear it anymore, so I rang the 111 service, who said an ambulance would be on its way.

It never turned up so into the car again and off to A&E, where eventually I was booked in. A female doctor examined me, but seemed to ignore the symptoms I was telling her I had. When I told her about the previous episodes I was told never to look at the past, but only at the things presented at the time.

A blood test was taken (at this point I was told this was fine), I was put on a drip, given better painkillers and then released at 2am. I was told if I was no better the next day to come back by lunchtime.

I was climbing the wall, so back I went, saw a different doctor and eventually at teatime had a CT scan and lumbar puncture and was booked in for the night. At 3am a doctor came and confirmed bacteria in my CSF."