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.


Eliana S's Story

22nd June 2024

Eighteen-year-old Eliana was in her first year at university when she fell ill with meningococcal meningitis last October. Thanks to her parents and flatmates Eliana was taken to hospital. Fortunately, Eliana, from Bromley in Kent, has made a good recovery and is back fully embracing student life – and passionately raising awareness, as she tells us here.

Eliana Blog frame

“I am eternally grateful for my parents and flatmates and all the doctors and nurses that helped me, as I might possibly not be here without them.”

“During my first year at university I was living in student accommodation and one day in October I had been feeling unwell. I had an intense headache since morning, but I didn't think anything of it as I used to get them every day.

“I slept throughout the entire day and by evening, although the headache had gone, I was very shaky and dizzy whenever I stood up, as well as feeling faint. I also had really cold feet and hands. I called my mum to tell her I wasn't feeling very well, and she asked if I could see a rash anywhere on my body, a common symptom of meningitis. But I couldn't see anything.

“I told her it was probably just the very bad headache that had affected me and I was going to go to sleep. However, later that night, I started severely throwing up, as well as having difficulty moving due to stiff muscles and joints, particularly in my neck, arms and legs.

Parents had grown worried

“After being sick again and realising something was seriously wrong, I searched the symptoms of meningitis. My last memory was thinking I needed to go to the hospital. My next memory was waking up in hospital three days later.
“My parents had grown worried after not hearing from me the following morning and had incessantly called my phone from 11am that day. One of my flatmates, who knew I wasn't feeling well from the night before, heard my phone ringing in my room around 1:30pm that afternoon. He thought something wasn't right so went in to check on me.

“He found me completely delirious in my bedroom and told my parents, who immediately jumped in the car to come to my university. They were in contact with campus security as an ambulance would have taken at least two hours to get to me. Campus security took me to hospital around 4pm and my parents arrived slightly later.


“I was in a very delirious state in A+E and my lips had started to turn blue. By this point, spots and a rash had started to appear, and I deteriorated rapidly. It was very hard for the doctors to examine me and get an IV into me as I was hallucinating.

“The doctors discussed where I should go and sent me to ICU with suspected meningitis.

“In ICU it took time for them to triage me and put me in an isolation ward. The full emergency team of doctors and nurses worked on me. They decided to pump me with three different paths of treatment as they didn't at this stage know what I had and did not want to wait for results to come back. By 8:30 they were treating me for bacterial and viral meningitis, as well as sepsis.

Next few hours were critical 

“They wanted to do an MRI to look for fluid on the brain , but as I was in a heightened state of paranoia, they decided to sedate me.

“I went into the MRI scan room, and from 12:30am I was in the ICU with my parents and nurses. My parents were told by doctors that I was in an induced coma, that they suspected it was bacterial meningitis, and that they were relieved they had given me medication three hours ago rather than waiting for an MRI.

"They stopped the two other forms of medication, concentrating on the medicine used to treat bacterial meningitis but they wouldn't know the strain and be 100% certain until the cultures returned. The doctors said I was very sick, and the next few hours were critical to see if I would respond to the treatment. Their words were, 'she is in acute danger'.

Extremely grateful for my parents

“The rest of the night was a watch and wait, with two nurses working all night on administrating everything for me. I was on a ventilator and a feeding tube. It was not until the early evening on Sunday that I was starting to show signs of fighting the infection. A decision was made by a group of doctors to bring me out of the induced coma at about 1:00pm on Monday.

“Waking up was terrifying as at first I didn’t recognise my parents or know who I was. Being told that I had bacterial meningitis and could have died was terrifying and a feeling that I will never forget. I also struggled with the realisation that I could have had permanent hearing loss as I couldn’t hear properly at the beginning of my recovery (luckily it has nearly returned to normal).

“I am extremely grateful for my parents for having a feeling that something was wrong on the Saturday morning and staying in contact with campus security as they drove to my university as well as my flatmates for coming into my room when they did and taking care of me until campus security came.

“The decision of the doctors to send me to ICU, and give me three channels of drugs to tackle three possible types of meningitis before testing me could have potentially saved my life, and I will always be entirely thankful.

Raise awareness

“I found it very hard to not immediately go 'back to normal'.  After being home from hospital for a few weeks I felt better mentally but my body was still catching up recovery-wise.

“Despite still having some fluid around my heart, as well as some concentration problems, I have since fully resumed university life as much as possible. I am on the dance squad team for my university, having competed in many competitions since March.

“I hope that my story helps people who are recovering from meningitis, as I understand how mentally draining and hard it can be when you're in that recovery process and you want to 'get back to normal' and do things you used to do as soon as possible.

“I want to raise awareness about meningitis, as I feel it is an illness that not many people fully understand unless they or someone they know has been affected. I certainly didn't know anything about it previously.

“Understanding the signs and symptoms could potentially be lifesaving, especially in the context of university life in student accommodation where you might not really know the people you are sharing with. Spreading awareness amongst students is something that I hope to help Meningitis Now achieve in the future."

If you'd like to learn more about how you can raise awareness about meningitis, check our website.