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Charlotte S's story

31st July 2015

Charlotte Stuart, 20 of Tunbridge Wells, was 19 and studying Architecture at the University of Cambridge when she was diagnosed with meningococcal group W (MenW)

Charlotte S's story

Luckily, Charlotte fought the disease, but was left with a number of after-effects including the amputation of her toes, anxiety and extreme fatigue. 

“I started feeling ill the evening before I was admitted to hospital – a headache, vomiting – nothing that would indicate anything too serious. However, the following day my temperature soared and blood pressure dropped.

This is when my Mum called 999.”

Waking up two weeks later

“It wasn’t until I was actually in A & E that the rash usually associated with meningitis appeared. Before then I had none of the obvious symptoms.

The doctors and nurses reacted so quickly, rushing me to ICU and placing me into an induced coma.

Waking up two weeks later and coming to terms with the situation took a long time and was devastating. Having completed my first year at university it was very tough to accept that I would not be living with my friends or continuing to study my degree and that my independence was non-existent.

I found myself unable to eat, drink or talk due to a tracheostomy and to begin with I was too weak to move at all as I lost nearly two stone in muscle mass. I was unable to concentrate on the simplest of things, finding TV and reading too much to focus on.”

Life after meningitis

“Meningitis acts incredibly fast, the day before I was in hospital I had been at work feeling perfectly healthy. Thankfully they caught it early on, reducing the severity of my long term after-effects.

Although losing any part of your body is emotionally traumatic - I lost some toes which now, almost a year on, doesn’t feel quite as important as it is not stopping me from doing many of the things I could do before.

It has been a long journey forwards and life is not fully back to normal but I have come to accept what has happened. More than anything I am so grateful to the wonderful NHS staff who looked after me, thankful for the love and support from my family and friends, and so appreciative for the ongoing help I receive from my counsellor which has been facilitated by Meningitis Now.

With their help I have still had fun this year and have many happy memories, despite the physical limitations I had to deal with. They have helped me to regain control of my life and I am looking forward to returning to university.”

Please get vaccinated

“To all prospective and current students, I implore you to get the ACWY vaccine and be aware of the symptoms of Meningitis. Although I have gained so much from this past year; have learned how strong I can be and have found a greater inner-confidence and better perspective on life, in no way what so ever would I want to relive having meningitis.

It took my independence and my energy, attacked my brain (it is classified as a brain injury), put the life I had planned on hold and so nearly took my life altogether.”

The Department of Health announced in June that the MenACWY vaccine will be offered to all 17 and 18-year-olds and all university entrants, aged 19-25 free on the NHS from August this year, to combat the rise in Men W cases in adolescents.