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Rajinder's story

20th July 2017

Rajinder Tumber recently found fame as the author of the world’s longest love poem. The 34 year old Cyber Security specialist from Belvedere, South East London, is not only a part-time poet and author of several thought-provoking books, but is also a survivor of meningitis.

Rajinder's story

“I was 27 years old when I got meningitis on 3 June 2010. It began as a slight headache, which grew stronger and stronger over the day.

"By the evening, my head was pounding, and that had never happened to me before.

"I thought I just had a typical headache. I took some paracetamol, because I planned to go to the gym that evening, however, it got worse as the day went on

"Straight after work, I went to the gym but by the end of my training session my head was pounding. It was so painful. I assumed it was a migraine - although I had never had one before, I had heard how bad they can be.

"When I arrived home I took some Nurofen, hoping the pain would ease while I slept. However, it was a struggle to get to sleep.

"In the morning when I woke up, the pain was roughly the same – that was the moment I knew something was seriously wrong. Within the next hour or so, while lying on the sofa at home, my body began to slowly shake, and I was in tears from the pain.

Rushed to hospital

"My parents took me to the doctor’s surgery. Within just a minute or so of examining me, my doctor phoned for the ambulance and he gave me an injection. The ambulance arrived very quickly, and I was rushed to hospital.

"By the time I reached the hospital I was too weak to talk or walk without struggling. I had a brain scan, and then... I'm not sure. It's a blur.

"The staff must have given me antibiotics, and I think morphine after the scan. I also remember they took spinal fluid from my lower back, which was very painful. This confirmed bacterial meningitis.

"It was an extremely traumatic experience, so traumatic, that thinking about it affects me even today - while I’m writing this tears are filling my eyes.

"At this time of my life, I was in my peak of physical fitness. I was going to the gym approximately five days per week, boxing on a regular basis, running for miles, and bench-pressing around 60kg dumbbells. My strength and fitness levels were through the roof. However, just 24 hours into contracting meningitis, I couldn't walk or talk properly - I didn't have the energy.

"To me, this proved that no matter how fit or strong someone may be, whatever will happen is destined to happen. You cannot stop it, but you must flow with it.

"After the brain scan, I can vaguely recall crying and thinking that this was the end of my life. I asked my parents to give me a pen and piece of paper, so I could write my will. From the complete lack of energy, it was a challenge to even hold a pen. It took me a long time to write just a few sentences.

"I also had a brief talk with God, while I was alone for a few minutes. I won't mention what I said, but let's just say, I wasn't happy I was going to die.

"I was in hospital for almost two weeks, which felt so long as I'm not used to staying in one place, doing nothing. I had suffered mentally and physically from the Meningitis, and knew I needed immense positive energy, and the fighting-spirit back within me.

Thank you

"I would like to say thank you to my GP, the ambulance crew, the staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, and of course my dear family, for helping me recover. I am now far more creative, spiritual, and appreciative of living life. These are some reasons why I am actually grateful for nearly dying from meningitis.

"Raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of meningitis is really important. I didn't know what meningitis was until the day after I almost died from it. If I was aware of it before I encountered the symptoms, I wouldn't have waited until the next morning to be treated.

"I have a message for those of you who have suffered from meningitis...

"To those who died from meningitis, I hope you have found peace.

"To those who have survived meningitis - use your near-death experience as a gift. Be grateful. You have been granted an extension to your life. As you have tasted death, you now know how short and fragile life really is. You also know that it's not worth living life in fear. Use your life extension to do what you've always wanted to do, and push through any boundaries. Use your extended life to really contribute to the world, and help spread peace & love.