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Martyn's story

14th May 2018

Martyn, 43, wasn’t feeling well on Valentine’s Day, but he summoned all his strength as he had an important question to ask his girlfriend Dawn

Martyn's story

Dawn from Shanklin, Isle of Wight, recalls what happened on the most romantic day of the year, and the unexpected events which followed.

"Martyn is asthmatic and is often ill during the winter months.

"The weekend before Valentine's Day Martyn began showing symptoms of flu. On Valentine's Day he was in bed, but on the evening he insisted that we drive to the place where we shared our first kiss.

"The weather was awful and it was pouring down with rain. When we parked up, he presented me with a book about us and on the last page it said ‘will you marry me’. I said yes, and then we went home and shared a Lemsip.

"The following day was his birthday, but there was still no improvement in his condition.

"In the evening he went to bed and had a coughing fit - he couldn't get his breath. Despite using his inhaler it got worse, so I rang 101 and they sent an ambulance immediately.

"Martyn collapsed and became unconscious. His breathing was laboured and sometimes it even stopped. I had to put him in the recovery position several times.

"The paramedics came and suspected sepsis, so they rushed him to A&E.

"When I arrived he was hooked up to a drip and an oxygen machine. Doctors were worried it was some type of mystery virus, so once he was stable they transferred him to an isolation ward where anyone entering had to wear a gown, mask and gloves.

"They started pumping Martyn with antibiotics, while he was generally out of it. Over the following days there were lots of blood tests and even a painful lumbar puncture. His whole body ached and he was sensitive to touch, sound and light.

"Over the days that followed he finally made progress and he was allowed to come home. Doctors said it was probably viral meningitis.

"It took him a further two weeks to build his strength back up - it was a very worrying time.

"I didn’t even know about viral meningitis, and it was a bit disconcerting that there was no definitive diagnosis. It makes me wonder how many others have gone through this or been misdiagnosed?

"Since Martyn was ill I’m more educated and aware of meningitis, the signs and symptoms and after-effects."