Waking up in hospital, the 28-year-old from Glasgow is now glad to be on the road to recovery, making memories, and raising funds and awareness for us whenever possible.
“In March 2020 my twin 2-year-old girls Kendal and Kacey were having a sleepover with my Dad and I was trying to fully redecorate my bedroom in that time.
“I had done so many coats of paint I assumed it was the fumes that gave me the most severe headache of my life. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. This eventually led to me being sick all over the place and I went for a lie down on the couch.
“I woke up four days later in intensive care.
“I had been found on the floor in my daughters’ bedroom covered in sick. My eyes were facing the wrong way like a pigeon and my speech was slurred.
Thought I had had a stroke
“Paramedics thought I had had a stroke, so I was taken to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, where they actually told my family that they had done everything they could do with no response and to prepare for the worst.
“I was transported to neurology at the Queen Elizabeth, where I had a lumbar puncture which showed meningococcal meningitis.
“My brain had swollen so much it was pushing down my neck and affected my nerves and the optic nerve. So, when I woke up, I couldn't speak, eat, move and had double vision.
“This was scariest part for me because, in my head, I knew I had two little girls but didn't know where they were and couldn't communicate that.
I was all alone
“By this point Covid had kicked in, so my visits with my Dad were stopped and I was all alone.
“I got moved into high dependency, then a ward where I started to relearn everything. My mental health became really bad at this point with not seeing my kids or my family, and it was the second anniversary of my Mammy’s death on 20 March, followed by Mothers’ Day on the 22nd. All I could do was lay and cry, I couldn’t even lift my arms to wipe my own tears.
“I started to refuse physiotherapy, so was assigned a mental health nurse who came to see me every single day.
“The sadness lifted enough for me to push through and get my limbs moving, get eating again and get out of there!
Real recovery started when I got home
“Around three weeks later, after my first few steps I was quickly discharged, due to the Covid situation.
“The real recovery started when I got home. I had to stay with my Dad as I couldn't look after myself, let alone my kids.
“I eventually came home at the end of April and now feel really, really lucky with the after-effects of this. Yes, I have headaches, fatigue and memory loss. I need to write every single thing down. But I'm alive.
“I had been wearing a pirate patch to combat the disorientation caused by the double vision, which lasted throughout May. Then one day I woke up and it had been fixed!
Mental health taken a hit
“My mental health has taken a hard hit through this, which I am starting therapy for soon, and I would encourage anyone else that has been through this to do so too.
“I want to raise as much awareness for this illness as I can. In March 2021, a year since I became unwell, I took part in Marathon Month and raised £400 for Meningitis Now. I wear my bright orange hoodie all the time and am constantly telling people I see about the signs and symptoms of meningitis, as I thought it could only happen to children. Until it tried to come for me.
“As I was 26 when my Mum passed away I do not want my girls to be without their mum for a long, long, long time. However, this has made me realise we don't know what tomorrow will bring. I therefore try to create as many memories as possible. We go on adventures and spend time outdoors.
“This does have a knock-on effect because my lungs and fitness levels are much lower than they were. So, if we have a super fun day I will usually be exhausted for a few days afterwards.
Fantastic family support
“My mental health has suffered badly with memories and the feeling of hopelessness I felt in hospital. Sometimes I can become so wrapped up in the sadness I need to pinch myself to remind myself I am here, over a year has passed and I can move. I can talk. I can speak to my girls.
“I am just trying to live life to the fullest and provide my girls with a good life. I managed to pass a humanities course that was wrapping up when I became unwell, so I have continued my studies on a part-time basis to keep moving towards the goal I have for me and my girls.
“And I’m so lucky to have a fantastic family support system that really pulled together for the girls and Rocco, the dog, when I couldn't be there, and I am forever grateful.”