“On Sunday 10 December Stuart complained of having a slight earache.
"It didn’t stop him attending our Christmas party with the rest of our colleagues from Debenhams in Warrington. He did choose to drive to the party though, but this was also due to the fact he was starting work at 5.30am the next morning.
“On Monday Stuart was fine. On Tuesday he was also fine through the daytime but by the evening he had a temperature and was very shivery. He watched TV on the couch with a duvet wrapped around him. On Wednesday Stuart got up with me, even though it was his day off. He said he felt a lot better so made the decision he didn’t need to see a doctor and I left him pottering at home when I left for work.
Let him sleep
“When I returned from work Stuart was in bed asleep. This wasn’t unusual for him if he didn’t feel well, so I let him sleep and went to M&S to get some things for Christmas. I didn’t think there was anything strange about it as he had done several jobs around the house and had put a stew in the slow cooker.
“When I returned I checked on Stuart and he was still sleeping. I left him a little while longer but started to worry when he still didn’t stir. When I went back upstairs and switched the light on he didn’t wake. It took me 10 minutes to try and rouse him and when he did wake he was confused and not making sense. I then realised he'd been sick in a bowl that he had tucked under the bed.
Sent an ambulance
“At this point I called 111 for medical help. From the answers I gave they sent an ambulance straight away.
“When the ambulance crew got here they managed to rouse Stuart enough to get him to assist them in getting him downstairs. He was very wobbly on his feet but with their support he managed to slowly get down.
“Once he was at the bottom of the stairs they managed to get him into a chair so they could wheel him into the ambulance. We got to A&E and it took a while for the handover to happen because it was so busy. Stuart was then put into Minors. Some bloods were taken but apart from that not much happened for the first three hours.
Started to deteriorate
“In this time Stuart started to deteriorate. He was very confused and restless. I spent most of this time trying to hold him onto the trolley.
“When the bloods came back Stuart was quickly moved to Majors. He then quickly got moved to Resus as he had deteriorated further and needed sedating and ventilating within minutes. This all happened so quickly and after a CT scan he was rushed to ICU.
“Once in ICU Stuart was stabilised and started on antibiotics and antiviral drugs, as they still didn’t know what they were dealing with. The next day they told me it was suspected meningitis. Stuart remained in Intensive Care for a week. It was confirmed he was suffering from streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis.
Small amounts of progress
“In that time he was making very small amounts of progress but every small step was a step in the right direction.
“Then on Thursday 21 December Stuart took a turn for the worse. He had contracted sepsis.
“Nurses were all around him trying to stabilise his blood pressure but it just kept dropping. Eventually his heart just stopped due to the blood pressure dropping so much.
“They spent 15 minutes trying to revive him but he had gone. My heart broke that day.
“My life has changed completely without my husband. We only got married in February 2017 although we had been together for ten years – married and widowed in the same year! My whole future has been wiped out and I need to try and find a new one without him. This is devastating and very difficult to get my head around.
“The home visit we received from Meningitis Now helped us to get a better understanding of what had happened to Stuart and also offered us support going forward.”