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Naomi A’s story

11th October 2023

Naomi from Alton in Hampshire contracted viral meningitis at 45 years old. Support from Meningitis Now was invaluable to her after she left hospital. She tells us her story.

Naomi A’s story

“The Helpline nurse advised me to rest and be gentle with myself. This was all I needed to hear.”

“In July of this year, I developed flu-like symptoms.

"I took a covid test and it was negative. The following day I had a strange sensation of my spine floating and my back, hips and legs felt like jelly. That night I developed the worst headache I have ever experienced. Painkillers worked for a few hours and then simply weren’t enough for the pain.

“The following day I developed violent vomiting and diarrhea. With my head feeling like it was imploding and achy joints, I knew something wasn't right. I went to the doctor and while I had no visible symptoms, I was unable to walk in a straight line and was sent straight to A&E.

“I felt like the Michelin man, and it was like my backbone was no longer doing the job it was supposed to do. I was unable to even prop myself up on a chair in A&E.

“Without my GP, I don't believe I would be here today as she had a gut feeling that something was not right.

Uphill battle

“I spent five days at Winchester hospital. I had a battery of tests and a lumbar puncture confirmed viral meningitis. I was given steroids, antibiotics, an IV saline drip, anti-emetics along with blood tests. The doctors were relieved it was viral meningitis, but this really was the beginning of an uphill battle for me.

“I came out of hospital unable to walk without a stick and was told not to do any strenuous exercise for a week. That felt like a joke as I couldn't even walk!

“Three months on I have altered eyesight, poor hearing, an intolerance to noises, extreme tiredness, heightened senses and a requirement for trauma counselling due to the speed at which my body deteriorated.

“I am a wife and a mum of two teenage boys and my family has been amazing and so supportive during this entire experience.

More information

“I found Meningitis Now on an internet search after learning that the doctors were treating me for meningitis. I was aware of meningitis but didn't know it was something that a healthy, fit, menopausal 45-year-old mum could get, and I desperately needed to find out more information.

“The website was really helpful, though I was acutely aware that my first symptom of a floating, jelly-like spine was not on any of the information leaflets online. This led me to contact the charity as I thought it might be useful information for other people in a similar situation.

“The Meningitis Now Helpline was an absolute lifeline for me in the first few days when I came out of hospital. The Helpline nurse listened, talked and helped me to realise that everything I was experiencing was completely normal. I was advised to rest and be gentle with myself. This was all I needed to hear. They also told me to phone if I had any queries whatsoever. I called again with further questions about heightened senses and was again told that was also quite normal.

Accept help

“I have understood that I am to take things at my own pace, not to stress and to learn to accept help. I haven't had much choice with the last one as have gone from a very fit, active, park-running mum to one who has to have a daily nap!

“It's been a complete modal shift from the person I used to be but I am happy to say that I am, gradually, seeing improvements. My senses remain heightened and am just keeping an eye on that. There are certain things I'm ok with now that I couldn't tolerate even last week but I still cannot stand the sound of the hand driers in public toilets!”

If you have been affected by any of the themes in Naomi’s story, please do get in touch with our nurse-led Helpline on 0808 80 10 388