Amy W's story

1st November 2010

Amy Whittaker tells her story of meningitis, which saw her miss work and be in hospital for weeks as she recovered from the disease

Amy-W

"In November 2010 I became unwell for three weeks and was told by my GP I had a viral infection and was signed of work. I went back to the GP every week and I felt no better.  On my last visit to the GP she said you should be feeling better by now. She signed me off for a further week and said if I felt better I could return to work prior to the fit note ending.

"I just felt generally unwell, I had a stiff neck and felt very tired. I also gained a headache in the left side of my head and above my eye which I put down to feeling unwell.

"I returned to work on the 1st December 2010. I worked all day in the office and my work colleagues said at about 5pm "I can see speckles in your eyes". My colleague said go and walk around the office and don't look at the computer, which I did briefly but do not remember. I finished work at 5.30pm and went to return something to a shop. On the way back to the car I remember feeling very warm and a little light headed. I continued into the staff area and collapsed on the floor. Luckily a colleague, Julie, was there.

"At first they thought I had had a heart attack and stroke as the side of my face had dropped, my arm was light and I had no control over it and my speech was slurred. Julie called an ambulance and kept me calm. Once in A&E I became very aggressive and began to walk around in circles, they thought it was a mental health condition and wanted to section me. 

"Julie was with me and said please look again, this is not like Amy, she is a professional girl and she is not like this. The doctor reviewed me again and I was diagnosed with meningitis and encephalitis.  At 9pm Julie phoned my mum and asked her to travel from Milton Keynes as my condition was serious.  My mum arrived at 11.30pm off the train and thought she was too late as she saw my brother and sister walk up the platform to meet her."

Allowed home for Christmas

"I spent 21 days in hospital and was then allowed home for Christmas to continue to recover. I stayed in bed for a further two weeks and then managed to get up and about a little bit. However, my concentration span was minimal, I was frustrated as I could not do everything and I was moody and snappy. I continued to recover until 14th February 2011 when I returned to work on a part-time basis until April when I returned to my full-time hours.

"My memory is minimal, I remember collapsing, being put in the ambulance and then waking up in hospital but I am not sure when. It is not just the person who is taken ill with meningitis that is affected, but those around them who have to watch you suffer, knowing they can do nothing to help.  

I am very lucky to be alive and I believe someone was watching over me that day as I have been left without any side effects. It took me a long time to be able to read about meningitis and the horrid and tragic effects it has on people’s lives, in some ways I feel guilty. 

"I am so grateful for the support of all my friends throughout this time and especially my mum who looked after me for weeks to ensure I recovered, and Julie who I believe saved my life by challenging the doctors. The care I received and the treatment was excellent and without it I would not have survived.

I had none of the typical signs of meningitis, no rash or temperature, I just felt unwell. So, please, if you do not feel well visit your GP as soon as possible.

"I am now at the stage where I feel I was saved for a reason and now it's my turn to help others who have not been as fortunate as me. I need to give something back."


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