Alexandra's story

11th November 2014

Alexandra Hird was just a normal student revising for her exams when she fell ill with meningitis. She shares her story and explains how the illness changed her life

Alexandra
Normal student

At the time of my diagnosis it was June 2010, I was a 19-year-old student studying at Nottingham Trent University. I liked to go out and party but it was, unfortunately, exam period.

I was revising in the library for my last exam, getting excited to go home for the summer when I felt a rush of shiver run through me. I got a headache, felt sick and cold. My head got worse as the day went on and I was so tired. My friend lent me his jacket and I fell asleep with my head on the desk for a while. When I woke up I felt a little better but still had a headache.

My friends, who were revising with me, thought I must have been really nervous for the exam as we had all been panicking about failing. 

Feeling ill

We all carried on revising until our exam came about, by which time I felt so ill that I wasn’t going to turn up. But I sat the exam and left as soon as I could and went straight home to bed.

My housemates were all so good to me and made sure I was okay even though it was the last day of term and they were hyped up to go out. I slept that night and woke up in the morning feeling next to normal, I called my mum to tell her about what happened the day before and she told me to go to the doctors but I fell back to sleep.

A couple of hours later I was in the worst pain and couldn’t get comfortable or sleep. They called my mum and asked her what she thought they should do. They tried to make me eat something but as soon as I saw the food I was instantly sick.

Calling an ambulance

After that, I can't remember what happened but I was told I took a turn for the worse and was acting out of character. They couldn't move me so my friends called for an ambulance and I was taken to Queens Medical Centre in the evening.

Luckily my dad was in the area after being at a meeting at work and came to A&E as soon as he could. I was trying to fight with the doctors to get off me and it took six of them to hold me down so they could sedate me. It took 12 hours from me being in A&E for them to tell my parents they suspected meningitis. I was given various medicines and a lumbar puncture and then taken to intensive care.

I woke up the following day in the early afternoon feeling very confused and tired with my family around me. The nurses and doctors were extremely good and kept us aware of the situation. I was diagnosed with meningitis but still needed to do tests to find out whether it was viral or bacterial. After a week, I was told it was bacterial and because I had already had the seven days of antibiotics, the doctor said I could go home.

My family arrived as soon as they could and stayed in my house with my housemates. Doctors gave me antibiotics for the next week whilst I stayed in hospital where my family and friends came to visit me.

I recovered well and was allowed to go home to Hartlepool where I carried on looking after myself. I can’t believe my body went through all that and I’m lucky enough to have survived but now it’s my duty to raise awareness and money for a vaccine to prevent this happening to any more people, not forgetting the trauma their family and friends go through. I owe my housemates and the staff at QMC in Nottingham my life for acting so quickly.

I have raised over £400 for Meningitis Now by running into the North Sea on Boxing Day and I hope to raise even more.