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Laura M's story

6th April 2017

First year university student Laura had been clubbing and thought she was suffering from nothing worse than a hangover. Thanks to speedy treatment and the support of family and friends she has made a good recovery, but is still struggling to return to normal life. She tells her story here

Laura M's story

“I'm a first year student at the University of York. I went out clubbing in Leeds one night and woke up the next morning with jaw pain on the left side.

It got worse over the day and I was unable to eat due to the pain.

“By the evening I was vomiting frequently, unable to eat and running a fever. I was unable to sleep that night, feeling restless and sick. I just thought I was hungover and it would pass.

“The next day I got worse, I slept on and off but the vomiting continued and I eventually became delirious. I was taken to A&E where I started getting double vision. Whilst in A&E, I developed a rash and was rushed to the ICU as my organs had started to fail.

“I was in the ICU for two days and stayed in hospital for another two weeks. During my time fighting the infection, I had hallucinations, fever, migraines and a lack of sleep. The medication would make me drowsy, sleepy and moody and I can't remember a few days due to the medication.

The worst thing I’ve ever had to fight

“It was the worst thing I've ever had to fight. At the time I wasn't able to comprehend the severity of my illness, I just took one day as it came. If it was not for my amazing friends, family and staff at Harrogate District Hospital, I wouldn't have made it through. I feel so incredibly lucky to come out of this ordeal alive and with no lasting impact, I know most aren't that lucky. My family was there every day, beside me at my best and worst times.

“After not eating for six days, I ate one single grape and the excitement in my hospital room and of the nurses was something I'd never thought I'd see over a grape! My friends were incredible, driving and travelling hours to visit me for only a few hours. I couldn't have gotten through this without their help and encouragement.

“I'd like to spread the message of awareness and knowing the symptoms. Meningitis can present similar symptoms as a hangover or flu and this can be incredibly dangerous, as it prevents people from going to the hospital and getting the help they so desperately need.“

“I got the jab for meningitis before I went to university. However, the jab didn't cover the strain of meningitis I contracted. I urge people to get the jab if they haven't and to know the symptoms; meningitis could happen to anyone at anytime and that’s the most frightening part. It is deadly and a horrible ordeal for everyone involved. By knowing the symptoms, it could prevent death or serious harm by catching it early. I was one of the lucky ones and the amazing doctors I had caught it in time to treat.

Incredibly lucky

“Even though I'm incredibly lucky to come out with no physical defects, the mental struggle of what I've been through has definitely taken its toll. I was unable to return to university this term due to exhaustion, my body needed to recover.

“Anxiety in crowded spaces and in general is something I've had to fight since coming out of hospital, along with experiencing a lack of motivation, sadness, guilt and feeling generally moody and uninterested. I do have anxiety about going back to university and having to care for myself again, getting back to normality after something like this is very difficult. However, I know I have so much support from my family and friends.

“I feel so grateful and lucky to come of this alive. It's a life-changing experience that I still haven't quite come to terms with but I hope by sharing my story it will encourage others to learn the symptoms and to never doubt their instinct. If you feel you're seriously ill then get yourself to a hospital; it could just save your life.

“I heard about Meningitis Now in hospital and they’ve helped and supported me in a number of ways, through their helpline, counselling, complementary therapy and their website and social media.”