We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website For more information about the types of cookies we use, visit our Cookies policy and manage your preferences.


Charlotte McG’s story

11th July 2024

Charlotte, from Bristol, contracted viral meningitis, aged 39, in June this year. She had a severe headache, felt sick, a stiff neck, was sensitive to light and had a high temperature. In hospital a lumbar puncture showed she had contracted viral meningitis. She tells her story here.

Charlotte's story

“All I want to say is to watch out for the signs and know your own body. This comes up and on you suddenly. Act fast and get help urgently.”

“On Friday 7 June, I woke up at 4.30am to an awful bad headache. I took tablets and then carried on with the morning. I had already got myself dressed for work ready to go to work at the hospital.

“By 10am I thought this headache surely should have gone by now, so I took another two tablets and left to go to work.

“On walking to the bus stop I felt as if I was being pulled to the left, which I thought ‘that's strange’. My head by then was absolutely throbbing.

Fell into the chair

“I managed to get into work to meet my friend in the cafe we sit in. I fell into the chair, completely clutching my head and covering my eyes, as by this point I knew something didn't feel right.

“I was then being pushed in a wheelchair to A&E. I don't really remember much of there. The only thing I do remember is going for a CT scan and having a cannula in my arm for anti-sickness.

“I was then moved from one part of A&E to the medical side, as they were querying a subarachnoid haemorrhage. A doctor came into the cubical and gave me the result of the CT scan and everything seemed okay, with that and no bleed on the brain.

Had a lumbar puncture

“They had a plan that they would do a lumbar puncture to check for bleeding on the spinal cord and brain. This would give them what they needed. At 10pm I was admitted to the AMU ward. Next day, on the Saturday, I had the lumbar puncture done. The pain was absolutely unbearable. I already had a headache to start with and was being told the effects of a lumbar puncture were a headache and very sore back!

“By early teatime the results of the lumbar puncture were back. No bleed on spinal cord or the brain, white blood cells okay. The doctor on the ward gave me the news of viral meningitis. My jaw dropped and I couldn't even speak the word meningitis.

Don’t need all the symptoms

“I always thought you had to have all the symptoms including a rash. He told me you don't need to have all the symptoms for meningitis, and how lucky I had been as bacterial meningitis is life threatening.

“All I want to say is to watch out for the signs and know your own body. This comes up and on you suddenly. Act fast and get help urgently.”

If you have been affected by viral meningitis or would like more information, visit our support pages or contact our Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org