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Irene N's story

11th December 2017

Theresa’s mum, Irene, from Birmingham, had flu-like symptoms and a temperature, but was shivering. Theresa knew her mum wasn’t herself and trusted her instincts to get her to hospital

Irene N's story

It was a good job she did because the 70-year-old had contracted meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia.

Early treatment helped with the outcomes, as Theresa recounts here.

“My Mom, Irene, had a sore throat for over a week. She went to the doctors who put it down to a virus.

“On the Wednesday and again on the Friday she couldn’t get out of bed. Her body was very hot but she felt cold in herself. I stayed with her that night feeling worried. Then she was feeling sick and was very unsteady on her feet, so I rang the ambulance.

“Within 15 minutes we were in A & E. They suspected pneumonia so they started her on fluids and antibiotics.

That’s not my mom

“They kept asking me why I brought her in. I said "because that’s not my Mom; my Mom’s like a 40-year-old and very active. She loves going out with her friends more than me."

“Within 20 minutes of them treating her, a doctor came to look at her because the fluids weren’t doing anything. Then I spotted the rash on her legs and feet.

“I told the doctor she didn’t have these when we arrived. He checked her over and she started getting the rash on her elbows.

“After treating her for hours and nothing working they called in ICU. They asked me the same thing – "what made you bring your Mom in?" I told them the same - "it’s not my Mom". They asked if she had a headache, stiffness or had been sick? "No", I said.

“Eventually they took her to ICU and put a stop on anyone visiting her except myself, my daughter and brother because they needed to contact the health team, not knowing if it was a form of meningitis.

I’d never seen my Mom so ill

“By the Sunday morning she was very poorly – I’d never seen my Mom so ill. Then we got told it was meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia. My Mom’s calves were purple. I was given an antibiotic in case.

“She was in ICU for a week and then she was transferred to a ward. The doctors kept saying she was one very, very lucky lady not to lose her limbs, thanks to A & E treating her with antibiotics before the rash appeared.

“I can never thank all the doctors and nurses enough for what they did. We never found out how she contracted it but my Mom is so different now – she’s very breathless when doing just small things like walking and making her bed (which I have to go round to do now) and is always sleeping more – she gets very tired.

“But I’m so glad I rang the ambulance when I did. We never go to hospital but that night something or someone was telling me to go and they treated her straight away.

“I get panic attacks now if she’s feeling poorly or if I’m around people – I try not to but it’s hard when you don’t know how she got this. I’m more paranoid when I get a cold or a member of my family gets a cough. I’m always telling my Mom off if she’s got a cold and that she should stay in. I know I shouldn’t but I worry more now. I always say if you feel there’s something wrong then trust your instincts.”