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Julie M's story

5th April 2018

Rebecca Anderson’s mum, Julie, had just returned home from a family holiday when she started to feel unwell. Sadly, days later she passed away, and it was confirmed she had contracted bacterial meningitis

Julie M's story

Rebecca, 32, from Scunthorpe, shares their story, in the hope of raising awareness that meningitis doesn’t just affect children.

"Tuesday 3 July 2007 was the day mine and my family’s lives changed forever - the first time I had my heart broken, and the last day that we had with my beautiful mum.

"On 26 June 2007 my mum took myself and my two children Jake and Abbie on a caravan holiday to Golden Sands in Mablethorpe. We enjoyed time together at the beach and had lots of fun and played bingo in the arcades.

"A few days before we were due to leave my mum started to feel unwell and said she had symptoms of a cold. We carried on with our holiday, and it didn’t stop her having fun.

"One day we were in the arcades and mum spotted a necklace set she liked, so we played bingo until she had enough tickets to win the necklace set! We got back to the caravan and I helped her to try it on. She didn’t have it on long as she was hot and said her neck was aching. That was the only time she got to wear it.

"The day we were due home my dad and brothers came and we all spent a few hours together as a family. Mum and Dad went for a long walk and held hands - we had no clue it would be the last time we would all be together.

"Mum drove us back to her house where we had tea and then she took myself and my children home. She said she felt unwell, so I gave her a drink and some paracetamol and she went home.

"The next day, Mum called and asked me to go round. She was poorly in bed and I could tell she wasn’t right as she couldn’t talk properly, but she said she was fine. I tried to ring my dad as he was working, but he didn’t pick up. I tried to call the doctors on the house phone and as I was ringing my dad called back, so I hung up and spoke to him, asking if he could come home. I handed the phone to Mum and she said she was fine, it was just the flu. She told him not to come back and she would see him later.

"I had to pick my little boy up from school, so I left Mum and went to my friend’s house where I was staying the night. I had no clue at the time but that was the best decision I made that day as her house was closer to the hospital.

"Throughout the evening I was asking my dad and brother how Mum was, and she wasn’t good. Eventually Dad rang the doctor, who came out and checked her over, but it was obvious that Mum wasn’t well at all and it was much worse than the flu. The doctor decided to call an ambulance and she was taken to intensive care.

"It was just before midnight and I decided to make my way to the hospital, which was a 15 minute walk. I didn’t know what to expect, my head was just all over the place. I was so scared.

"When I got to the hospital I saw my dad sat on a chair - I will never forget the look on his face. He was absolutely terrified, and I had no idea what to say to him. I felt so sick with worry. He told me that they had taken Mum for a scan earlier. She looked so poorly and her jaw was clenched shut and she was breathing through her mouth. She had a machine on her bed; I didn’t know what it was.

"They wheeled her in to a cubicle and me and Dad followed. After a few minutes we heard a lot of noise and were told by a nurse to go back to the waiting room.

"I remember my dad asking the nurse if Mum was going to die, and the nurse said she didn’t know. She told us to call our family - and then we knew it was serious.

"The doctor told us they weren’t sure what was wrong with Mum. The scan showed that her brain was swollen, and he thought it was encephalitis or meningitis - she was very poorly.

"Dad rang my grandma and I heard her crying. My dad was in bits - I’d never seen him cry like that in my life.

"The room quickly started to fill up with family, I can’t even remember everyone who was there.

"I remember my auntie leaving to go and get Mum’s sister as we couldn’t get hold of her. While she was gone the nurse came and said Mum’s heart had stopped and they were trying to get her back.

"Not long after, the doctor came in and explained that they had been trying for 20 minutes but they couldn’t save her.

"At the age of 43 my mum had gone. It didn’t seem real; it was like I was watching it happen to somebody else.

"When we were allowed to see her it was so quiet except for my brother sobbing, you could hear his heart breaking and I could feel my own heart breaking.

"I sat with Mum alone - the room was silent but deafening.

"I told her I loved her and that I wouldn’t forget her, and that I’d tell my kids all about their nana. I played with her hair because she loved it.

"When we all left the hospital we were all on autopilot - I hugged the nurse and thanked her for trying to save my mum.

"The next day I walked into Mum and Dad’s house and her shoes were where she had left them and her bag was still hung on the door.

"Before Mum died she wanted to see my daughter, who was 16 months old, learn to walk and we’d spend ages trying to teach her. On that morning my daughter got out of her stroller and walked by herself from the dining room through to the sitting room like she’d been walking for ages. I remember my dad saying it was Mum holding her hands.

"The post mortem results came back and showed that Mum had died from bacterial meningitis. I didn’t really know what it was - I just thought that babies and children got it. I think a lot of people associate meningitis with children and don’t realise, like we didn’t, that adults can get it.

"Within a matter of hours, I went from having a mum to losing her forever.

"It has been nearly 11 years and it never gets easier, you just learn to adjust to not having that person in your life.

"My mum was our rock and living without her is so difficult, she has grandchildren she will never meet and she won’t see her children grow up and get married. My family has lost the most amazing beautiful lady from this disease. There’s a huge gap where she should be. We all miss her every single day.

"I’d like to help raise awareness; if it helps to save one person then it would make both my mum and my family proud."