“In March 2009 my mother and I went to see my uncle in Liverpool. It was around 7pm, the day was cloudy and the sky was dull. I asked my mum for sunglasses as the light began to hurt my eyes.
“I was fine on the way but after the two hour drive I felt nauseous but thought nothing of it. On the way back I began to feel really ill. I told my mum and she replied ‘You've probably got a fever.’ I came home and lay on my bed; at this point it was around 11pm and it just got worse and worse.
“My mum took me into her bed to sleep as she was also very worried. I vomited and my mum carried me downstairs and onto the sofa. She rang the out of service GP and explained my symptoms. I had a stiff neck and a large dislike to bright lights.
Just a fever
“The doctor asked ‘Does he have purple blotches on the skin?’ and my mum replied ‘No’. They both decided it was just a fever. My mum took my clothes off and looking at my back saw purple blotches on my skin. Immediately she called the doctor, who came rushing into my house and started taking my blood pressure and temperature whilst calling an ambulance.
“The ambulance arrived on the scene within 10 minutes and the paramedics put me in a wheelchair. My brother came down the stairs and just stared at me, a stare which showed confusion and deep shock. He was 13 at the time and all he saw was me being wheeled out by paramedics.
“They wheeled me into the ambulance and placed me facing down on one of the flat boards. They injected me with penicillin. I was at the hospital within 30 minutes. I was asked to switch to a different board by rolling over and I felt encumbered. I had little energy and what little energy I did have was used up from me starting to vomit dark thick red puke which I assumed was blood. I got rushed into the children's ward in my own private room. Needles were stuck inside of me left, right and centre and I was given a cannula.
Prepare for the worst
“The next day was just as bad as the first one. I was vomiting and was very ill. My mum was sitting in the corner on a chair crying. The nurses came in before she cried and told her these words – ‘prepare for the worst.’ My mum burst into tears and I couldn't understand why and I told her ‘mum, please don't cry, I'll cry, please mum.’ It was very upsetting to see her like this - looking at the tear drops roll down her cheeks and down to her chin.
“Another day passed and we were moved to an isolation room full of needles and people wearing overalls. The room was crystal white. There was a nurse holding my hand and I didn't understand why. They inserted a needle into my spine (lumbar puncture) and took spinal fluids. It came back that I had meningococcal disease.
“Days passed and my cannula was changed every two days. I had cannulas in my foot, hands and arms and it was extremely painful. I spent a full two weeks in hospital but when I left I had to return every day to change my cannula.
Keep on fighting
“When I returned home I was greeted with bundles of cards. People in my school spent time writing signs, people made their own cards and sent me them. I cried at every card I read and was very humbled by the people who sent me them. There was one particular message that stood out which was ‘Keep on fighting Nathan’. That message was so strong.
“Cards were flooding my floor every day. I even got sent charms which was very sweet. I was unable to walk during the disease and weeks afterwards. People visited every day and all were shocked when I showed them my cannula and told them the story of my near death encounter. I am proud of my body and the efforts of my supporters and the nurses/doctors who helped me live.
“The last day I returned to the hospital to get my cannula removed, to where I was free, it was Mother's Day. On the table was a booklet of nice quotes which was truly beautiful. My mum's tears were smiling. Her face was red, not with sorrow but with joy - the sight was amazing, seeing my mum smile. The real survivor of this disease is my mother; she powered through this with me and she shared my pain. I love you mum, I really do. I came off lucky, my eyesight is getting worse and my hearing is distorted. However, I will cherish the days I have left in life.”