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Jody's story

15th May 2018

37 year old Jody, from Macclesfield, experienced a severe headache during a friend’s wedding, which he put down to dehydration after training hard for the Great North Run the previous day

Jody's story

Within a matter of hours he was lying on the floor with a temperature of over 42 degrees and unable to tolerate light.

As his condition worsened, Jody was rushed to hospital where viral meningitis was diagnosed. Jody tells his story here.

“On 18 June 2017 I woke up with a strong headache. At the time I dismissed it as dehydration following the completion of a 10-mile training run the night before. Later that day my wife and I were due to attend a friend’s wedding in the North East, so I took some painkillers and we started the journey.

"During the three hour drive my headache got progressively worse. When we arrived, I dropped my wife at the venue and went to find some stronger painkillers.

"My body and head were in a lot a pain, and no painkillers could touch it. I was in so much pain I felt distant and people were commenting on how unusually quiet I was.

"By 10pm I could take the pain no more, so my wife and I headed back to the hotel. By 1am I was shaking so hard that it woke my wife up, and I even bit my tongue.

"I remember feeling like ice, yet to the touch I was burning up. I felt really sick, but managed to crawl to the bathroom.

Hiding from the light

"When my wife came in to check on me it felt like she had brought the sun into the room. I screamed at her to turn off the light - there was no light; it was simply the screen on her phone. At this point she quickly called for an ambulance.

"The ambulance crew confirmed my temperature was 42 degrees and rushed me to Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.

"My only memory is having a blanket wrapped around my head, even with the lights turned off the slightest flicker of light felt like I was looking at the sun.

"By the time I arrived at the hospital I was in so much pain I was kicking and screaming - anything to try and distract from the pain.

"I was put on a morphine drip and started on antiviral medication. Fortunately, this combination managed to reduce the pain to a level where I could remove the blankets and speak to the doctors.

"They were clearly concerned and ordered an MRI scan to rule out any bleeds. When this came back negative, a lumbar puncture was ordered. The results of this confirmed viral meningitis.

Leaving hospital

"Once viral meningitis was diagnosed the hospital stopped the medication and began the process of preparing me to go home.

"I guess this is the point where more support would have been useful. I was given basic information but nothing like I later discovered was available through Meningitis Now.

"Being discharged so quickly I think I was lulled into a false sense of security, somehow feeling like I would be back to 100% in a matter of days / weeks. This was unfortunately not the case.

Tired very easily

"Following discharge I became tired very easily, which was hard to accept, particularly as less than 62 hours before I could run 10 miles with ease. Now, I suddenly needed a sleep after walking to the shops.

"I continued with oral morphine for around seven days and fortunately after this I was able to stop all medication, with my headaches subsiding to a level they could be managed with just paracetamol.

"This experience has taught me the importance of my health and ensuring you seek medical attention when you think something is wrong. If anyone thinks they may have meningitis symptoms they need to get them checked out.

"In my case, having viral meningitis meant that time was less critical, but had this been bacterial it scares me to think if I would have been too late.

Long road to recovery

"There are a lot of misconceptions around viral meningitis; often when people heard it was ‘just’ viral they expected me to be back to 100% in a matter of days. This was far from the case. In total it took over 2 months for me to return to work, even then that was on a phased return. Fortunately, Cheshire West and Chester Council were hugely supportive throughout this period and beyond, which certainly helped reduce the stress I was feeling.

"It was a very hard experience to go through, particularly with two small children aged four and one.

"I cannot thank the hospital staff along with my friends and family enough for their support, both on the day and in my recovery.

"Hopefully my story will help people understand that this is an illness which can affect people regardless of age or physical condition.

"Meningitis Now are an amazing charity and have been vital in helping to understand that I am not alone - reading other people’s stories has really helped me to feel part of a community.

"Losing my fitness was one of the hardest parts of my illness. Now, ten months on, I am about to run the Manchester 10k later this month and Great North Run in September. I will be proudly running for Meningitis Now, and hope to inspire others who are going through a difficult recovery."