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Robert C's story

18th March 2019

Living alone, Robert was lucky to be found by a colleague when he collapsed at home after contracting meningitis in April 2018. Robert, 55, from Southampton, told us his terrifying story

Robert C's story

“In April 2018 I had been suffering from a cold for a few days when I started to experience intense shivers one evening. Thinking it was my cold getting worse, I went to bed."

“During the night I started to be sick and became delirious. By the morning I was semi-conscious. Because I live alone, there was nobody there to notice exactly how ill I now was.

“I am normally prompt to arrive at work so when I failed to turn up my colleagues realised that there was something wrong. Fortunately, my line manager came to check on me and phoned my mobile phone. Remarkably, I was able to answer it and crawl to the front door to let him in to my flat. He called an ambulance and I was taken to Southampton General Hospital. I remember being in the ambulance, but I don’t remember arriving at the hospital.

Dark purple rash

“I was put into an induced coma and was under for three weeks. My daughters were contacted and came to the hospital. My eldest daughter who arrived first was told that I had roughly two hours to live. My youngest daughter (a nurse) had just arrived in Australia for a six-week tour and had to return. She came back with my sister (also a nurse!). My 84-year-old father took a cab from Plymouth to Southampton.

“Whilst I was in a coma, I contracted pneumonia and diabetes. I had kidney failure and needed dialysis. The skin on my feet, hands, knees and nose turned black. I was covered in a dark purple rash. I suffered from very dark hallucinations, which were based in the reality of my surroundings and featured my family and the people caring for me.

“When I was brought out of the coma, I was told by the neurologist that I had two large abscesses and a multitude of smaller ones in my brain. I was given intravenous antibiotics for six weeks. I was in hospital for a further three weeks and after being discharged I had twice daily nurse visits to administer the drip and to dress my feet. At the end of the treatment period I had a further MRI scan which showed that the large abscesses had reduced significantly and the smaller ones had gone. The large abscesses have been left to heal naturally.

Very weak

“When I first came round it took three people to help me stand for the first time and I had trouble talking and swallowing. I had lost over two stone in weight. I was very weak and could only walk for short distances and I had to borrow a wheelchair from The Red Cross Charity.

“It is now nearly 11 months since I came down with meningococcal septicaemia and I am still recovering. I have lost all of the stamina and fitness that I once had. The skin on my feet is still healing and I have yet to recover any sensation in my toes. I have suffered damage to my hearing and eyesight and I have a lot of headaches.

“I get very tired and some days are worse than others but overall my health has improved greatly. Although there is still some way to go before I get back to where I was. I am back to work full time now but it has taken six months to reach this point.”