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.


Emma G's story

21st May 2015

Emma, 35, from Luton was returning from a family break in Blackpool when she began to feel ill. Initially flu was suspected, but as a rash developed Emma realised she needed to get to hospital

Emma G's story

She tells her story here.

“My daughters and I had spent half term in Blackpool and had an especially busy last day when my legs really started to ache. After packing up our car, visiting a rock factory, a deer park with friends and trick or treating on the Coronation Street set, we drove the three hour journey home. We didn’t get back till midnight and went straight to bed.

On the Saturday morning I woke first, feeling tired. My legs still ached and my hands and feet were cold. I started unpacking and washing until the girls woke up. Then we had breakfast and watched some TV.

About 3pm I decided to have a bath to warm up, but while I was in there I got goosebumps and started shivering and feeling really tired. I got out, wrapped myself in towels and took myself to bed to warm up. I’m not sure how long I'd been there when my 10-year-old daughter came to find me. She asked what I was doing and I said I was trying to get warm. She said I was red and took my temperature which was 39.5. She rang my parents who came straight round."

Dosed me with painkillers

“My mum took one look at me and thought I had flu. She dosed me up with painkillers and took my girls to theirs for dinner so I could rest. I slept on and off and started being sick. The headache then began and I didn't like the light. My parents brought the girls back late and gave me some more medication and we all went to sleep.

About 3am I woke needing the toilet. I ached so much I didn't want to move. I got up and turned the light on. As I'd been so hot I was just in my underwear and when I looked down I was covered in a purply-black rash. I rang my parents and said I needed to go to hospital, but not wanting to worry them I didn't say why.

I got my pyjamas on and went down to unlock the door, but on my way every part of my body ached and felt like it was on fire. I felt sick and dizzy. I rang the ambulance, but wasn't making much sense and got all the information wrong.

I continued vomiting. When my dad arrived he did the tumbler test but it was inconclusive as the rash continued to appear. Shortly after, the fast response paramedic arrived. She took my temperature, which was now 42.9, and gave me anti sickness medication, paracetamol and ibruprofen."

The rash was spreading in front of our eyes

“She also did the tumbler test but got the same result. The rash was spreading in front of our eyes. She called the ambulance, which arrived in minutes.

I was taken to my local hospital, who were ready and waiting for me. They put a paper mask over my face and put me in a side room. They quickly put me on several drips and gave me antibiotics, antivirals and steroids. They took my blood, put me on oxygen and inserted a catheter.

I was quite unaware of what was going on, only that I had an insatiable thirst, felt like I was on fire and was getting very agitated. I kept asking my dad if I was going to die and made him promise to look after my girls. I thought this was the end. After a few hours I was given a CT scan and moved to HDU in an isolation booth, where I was hooked up to more drips as my heart rate kept dropping. I had an arterial line sewn into my arm so they could monitor me closely. I couldn't move as my body ached and cried when they turned any lights on.

I don't know what happened over the next few hours as I drifted in and out of consciousness. Later on a doctor came to do a lumbar puncture, but because I was so dehydrated he was unable to. He called for a consultant, who tried another two times before they were successful. I don't remember any of that. I had meningococcal meningitis."

I spent my days in the dark, sleeping

“I stayed in isolation in HDU for eight days, where I continued on antibiotics and antivirals. Anyone who came in had to wear paper masks, aprons and gloves and I had daily bloods taken to check my progress. I had kidney and liver failure when I arrived and had septicaemia. I just spent my days in the dark, sleeping. All my family, my daughters, parents, two sisters and brothers all had to be treated with a one dose antibiotic to protect them.

After eight days in HDU I was moved to a normal ward for a further two days, before going to my parents who had been looking after my daughters. We stayed with them for eight weeks. I could barely walk or use my right arm when I left hospital. I have been left with reduced sight in one eye, tinnitus, rotary vertigo, pins and needles with weakness in my right arm, terrible fatigue, nausea and memory loss.

It’s been six months now. I'm on daily medication and I'm having cranial osteopathy and I'm still struggling day to day. I find going out difficult and being in noisy environments leaves me feeling sick and dizzy, but I'm trying to get my life back on track.

Meningitis Now has provided me with someone to talk to or email for advice and information and they have paid for me to have cranial osteopathy.”