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Molly O’s story

9th May 2018

Twenty-two-year-old Molly, from Bristol, thought she’d come down with a bad case of flu. Her symptoms included neck stiffness, photophobia, vomiting, pain in her ears and eyes and dizziness

Molly O’s story

As her condition worsened doctors referred her to hospital, where viral meningitis was diagnosed. Molly tells her story here.

“On 18th December 2017 I fell ill with what I thought at the time was a bad case of the flu along with a migraine, as I suffer from migraines regularly. After a few days I started feeling worse and was vomiting. I had awful neck ache, my ears were blocked and my head felt like there was a lot of pressure on it, which made my eyes ache. I decided to go to the doctors and was told that my symptoms were similar to that of the flu and to rest as much as possible."

Became increasingly worse

“Unfortunately, over the next few days my symptoms became increasingly worse and I had cold feet and hands. My body was in a lot of pain, and no painkillers could relieve the pain in my head (it felt like it would explode due to the pressure)."

“I went back to my GP who noticed I had a few spots on my stomach and advised that I could have shingles. I was then referred to Southmead Hospital in Bristol as my GP was aware that something was wrong. I had a lumbar puncture which showed that I had viral meningitis, caused by varicella (shingles/chickenpox virus). I was then put on a drip of antivirals and was in hospital for a few days over Christmas and was discharged the day before New Year’s Eve."

Not getting any better

“After being discharged I still suffered from feeling weak and tired and I had strong headaches, which I was given codeine for. After a week of being at home and resting my symptoms became a lot worse. My head still felt like it had a lot of pressure inside and I was in a lot of pain and my ears felt like I was on an aeroplane and they needed to pop. I knew something wasn’t right and I wasn’t getting any better, so I decided to go back to my GP as I did not know what to expect after being discharged."

“I read a few stories from people online, who said they suffered with a bad head for weeks after treatment. I did not know if this was just normal. I was then referred back to Southmead Hospital where I had a CT scan. This came back clear to rule out encephalitis and I had another lumbar puncture, which showed the pressure in my head was very high and that the viral meningitis had not been treated."

Three weeks in hospital

“I was kept in hospital for three weeks, where I was given more treatment and provided with amitriptyline and diazepam to help relieve the neck stiffness, along with oramorph, paracetamol and codeine."

“Nurses struggled most days with fitting cannulas and taking blood as my veins were rubbish and a lot had already been used, so they found it difficult to get the needle in. Following weeks of the daily battle with my veins they finally decided to fit a picc line, which I found a lot easier. This meant I did not have to have any more needles and that I could sleep through the night."

“Most days I struggled to sit up by myself and to walk around as my body was in a lot of pain and I felt very weak. I also struggled a lot with photophobia and often my room was in darkness. This gradually got better and I was able to sit up by myself and go for short walks. I was given Clexane to ensure I did not get blood clots."

Tired very easily

“Following being discharged I found that I got tired very easily and still suffered with a few headaches, but I found the medication helped ease these symptoms. After about a week I did not need these painkillers. I was off work for a month and I went back on reduced hours for a few weeks. Finally, I started to feel that I was getting back to my normal self."

“This experience has taught me that it’s very important to seek medical advice if you feel something is not quite right. If you have any of the meningitis symptoms then please make sure you get checked out, as in my case the symptoms progressed quite quickly and I was glad that it was found as soon as it was. Luckily I have not suffered with any after-effects."

Hard thing to go through

“It was a hard thing to go through but I can’t thank the hospital staff and my friends and family enough for helping and supporting me throughout the treatment. The social media that Meningitis Now provided gave me a lot of useful information about the disease. It was helpful to read other people’s stories who had raised awareness about this illness. My story also shows that meningitis can affect anybody of any age. It is very important to look out for the symptoms and seek help, as well as checking your vaccinations are up to date.”