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Hayley R’s story

8th June 2024

Hayley is a mother from Gloucestershire who contracted viral meningitis last year and is still recovering from the after-effects. She and her family are keen to raise awareness and fundraise and in September her husband and daughters raised almost £1000 in completing the Five Valleys Walk. Hayley shares her experience here.

Hayley's Story

“A year later I'm still exhausted, my vision isn't the same, I'm forgetful and headaches are daily now, but I'm here to tell my story and hopefully I can raise awareness to help others in the future."

“I had been busy at work while making a cake for my mum’s birthday and looking after my three children during the half-term holiday.

“I bent down to pick something up and had the most awful pain in the middle of my breastbone. Thinking I needed to clear my lungs, I coughed hoping to ease it but this didn't work.

“My husband had been in Italy for work and had come home with a cough. I assumed that he had brought something back home with him, so we made our way out for my mum's birthday lunch. I remember not being able to sit properly as my whole body was so uncomfortable, I must have looked it too as my mum asked a few times if I was okay.

Very little memory

“I took my children to school the next day and went to work. I have very little memory of getting there or doing my job. I convinced myself that it was covid so tested, but it was negative.

“The next day my son had a doctor's appointment. During this appointment, the nurse (who is a family friend) told me I looked awful and recommended I go home and rest.

“So I picked up my daughter, returned home and went to bed.

“I slept from 4.30pm on Tuesday until 4pm on Wednesday. I must have drifted in and out of sleep as my husband and children told me they had been talking to me, but I have no recollection of this.

Go straight to A&E

“I convinced myself that I had taken the children to school on Wednesday morning, but they told me I didn't (to this day I am adamant that I did).

“I do remember my daughter coming to my bedroom and saying ‘Nanny’ (my mum) was on the phone, she asked if she should call the doctor.

“I mumbled “yes,” and dozed off again.

"Then the doctor called and she was absolutely amazing. She kept me calm whilst firmly and gently telling me to call my husband, get ready and go straight to A&E. She didn't want to worry me, but said I needed to be prepared to be told I had meningitis.


“The half an hour journey to the hospital was scary and painful, I couldn't stand the bright headlights from oncoming traffic so kept my eyes closed and wrapped a scarf over them. The engine sounded like a million hammers all banging at the same time and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get comfortable. I can't remember a lot – this is all pieced together from the accounts other people have given me.

“In A&E my temperature, bloods and blood pressure were taken, a cannula was fitted and I was put in the waiting room hooked up to an antibiotic drip.

“After what seemed like hours I was put on a bed in the corridor. The next morning I had a CT scan and some doctors came to do a lumbar puncture. After ten attempts in total, they finally got the sample. I was battered, bruised and traumatised by it all.


“I was put on antibiotics and steroids. Then came the awful pain, diagnosed as a kidney and water infection due to my lack of fluids.

“I spent a week in hospital with very little information on what and why this was happening to me.

“Exactly a week after my admittance to hospital my GP called and asked how I was and told me to remember to take my recovery seriously and very slowly.

“Later that day I was discharged from the hospital with no further information.

“My GP requested to see me after a month. I was still off work, moving very slowly and feeling absolutely exhausted every day.

“After coming home from hospital, I wanted to try and understand what was happening to me. I started searching for meningitis support and information and that's how I came across Meningitis Now. I followed them on social media to read about other people’s stories, some that I related to.”


“Then in November I had a routine eye test and the extra imaging showed extremely high pressure behind my optic nerve. I was rushed to A&E again and diagnosed with intracranial hypertension, caused by my meningitis.

“I’m now on medication and regular neurologist and optometrist appointments are working towards saving my sight and mobility amongst other things.

“A year later I'm still exhausted, my vision isn't the same, I'm forgetful and headaches are daily now, but I'm here to tell my story and hopefully I can raise awareness to help others in the future.


“My children are also very keen to raise awareness and funds for meningitis to help others. My husband and two daughters took part in The Five Valleys Walk last September. Whilst walking they met so many wonderful people and learnt about their reasons for joining in the fundraiser. This was my family’s way to show their support for me, they raised nearly £1000 and are eager to sign up again this year. My son and I hope to join them one day.

Five Valley's Walk -Hayley's husband and two daughters

“I've since been part of a Zoom event hosted by Meningitis Now helping to keep people connected who have experienced meningitis in the last 12-18 months. During this zoom, our questions were answered and experiences shared, which I found extremely helpful.

“Once Meningitis Now scoop you up it's like a family that you have the most special invite to. You'll be cared for and taken on a fantastic and supportive journey after a scary and awful experience.”

To learn more about any upcoming support events like the Viral Meningitis Zoom event Hayley attended check out our website. Similarly, you can learn more about the Five Valleys Walk and other opportunities to fundraise for us here.