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Rachel P's story

1st June 2011

Rachel speaks about how unwell she felt at work, so instead of going home she checked into a hotel and was then rushed to hospital and, after treatment, discovered she was battling viral meningitis

Rachel P's story

"One evening in early June, 2012, I finished work late after feeling very unwell throughout the day (abdominal pain, nausea, aches and pain) and decided against the hour-long car drive home late at night and instead booked into a local hotel.

Throughout the day I had felt unwell, I had a stomach ache and felt nauseous. I attributed this to being under pressure at work and not eating, as I had no appetite. So, having booked into the hotel I finished up some emails and got into bed.

My stomach ache continued to worsen, I had no painkillers with me and nor were the hotel able to supply pain relief. I made a call to my darling mother (ever the angel), who suggested I call NHS direct, which I did. There were frequent calls and call backs between midnight and 4am."

Like swimming underwater

"It got to 4am and I was in pain in my stomach and a very bad headache, I made my way down to the front desk and pleaded with the night porter for painkillers, lucky for me he had two Panadol in the car.

I took the painkillers and made my way (unsteadily) back to my room, and bless the night porter, he had to help me, as by this point I was having trouble walking as my legs were like jelly but stiff at the same time and my vision was very blurry, almost like when swimming underwater.

Once back in the safety of my room, I took myself to the bathroom to wash my face. It was when drying my face that I noticed a rash under my chin and down my neck, and partly across my cheeks."

Tiny, dark red freckles

"The rash was like nothing I had seen before, it was like tiny dark red freckles, in the brightness of the light, which was causing me pain.

I had to squint to look closer, I picked up a tumbler and rolled it across my skin, the rash didn't disappear. With the wonders of technology now, I managed to take a picture of my rash and send to my mum, along with a message saying that I was calling the doctor back.

Having spoken to the doctor, he decided to call an ambulance and I was taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital A&E. I arrived at about 5.30am and my parents arrived shortly after.

I had IV antibiotics setup and a fluid drip, I was given blood tests, urine tests, physical tests, chest X-ray, CT Scan and finally a lumbar puncture. It was only after the lumbar puncture at 4pm and being moved to a ward that I was told I had viral meningitis.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital was exemplary in its treatment of me and I am so very thankful that they were so thorough."