One year on, with support from Meningitis Now and the experiences of others, 22-year-old Aaron, from Suffolk, is coming to terms with what has happened and has started to take control of adapting to his abilities.
“It started with a sore throat and feeling very drowsy. I went to bed and slept for what felt like the entire next day until the pain from my headache woke me up - a pain I don’t ever want to experience again. I tried to get some water but could only make it to the bathroom to be sick before having to get back into bed. The pain was so bad it kept me awake.
“It wasn’t until I noticed how stiff my neck was that instinct kicked in and I (stupidly) got a bus to the hospital on my own. All my housemates were visiting home that weekend and I thought it was something I could do on my own.
“When I got there I kept thinking it could be anything, a trapped nerve, flu or even a migraine. It wasn’t until I was quickly seen and put in a cubicle that I truly started to worry, and when the consultant came over and said he suspected meningitis the alarm bells really went going.
“I was started on antibiotics just in case and admitted for a lumbar puncture. Bacterial meningitis was ruled out so I was given anti-virals instead alongside pain relief. The results came back and I was discharged home to recover as they couldn’t do a lot in the hospital.
“Recovery took a long time and the illness itself has left me with post-viral fatigue almost a year on. I can at least get up stairs now without needing to rest but I’ve also had to adapt to a new way of life for myself. I had to leave my university course as my body couldn’t cope with the demands of it, but now I’ve had time to learn about myself and see examples of other people’s experiences I don’t feel alone. I feel like I can achieve what I want in life - even if that means taking longer than I’d wish and adapting methods so I don’t get burnt out. This is something I would not have been able to achieve without the support of Meningitis Now, from peer support groups to the support helpline helping me feel less alone in the process of recovery, and also showing me that the after-effects I experience are real.”