Ayesha's story

22nd May 2020

"It all happened in January 2014 when I was 17 years old. I don’t recall anything that happened in the first two weeks of this month including visiting the GPs, paramedics coming to my home, hospital visits, or even my behaviour"

Ayesha's bacterial meningitis story

"I woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by my family not knowing why I was there and what had happened.

"My family has said that I had visited the doctors a few times and was told that my sinus has not broken, and that I was just unwell. A few days later I was feeling no better, so my family decided to call the paramedics. Despite two visits and their best efforts, they had no idea what was wrong with me so they decided to admit me to the hospital, where a series of tests were carried out. But, like the paramedics, doctors couldn’t determine what was causing the symptoms I was experiencing - confusion, pain, and a dislike of bright lights. In the absence of a diagnosis, one doctor even said that I am either really spoilt, attention-seeking, or have a boyfriend harassing me!

Be prepared for the worst

"After a few visits back and forth to the hospital, the doctors finally decided to do a lumbar puncture and that is when they realised that I had bacterial meningitis. Leaving my family with the words ‘be prepared for the worst’ I was rushed from Calderdale Royal Hospital to Leeds General Infirmary, where I was put into a coma to stop the seizures I been having. I was also prepared for brain surgery and the permanent insertion of a VP shunt to relieve pressure on my brain caused by a build-up of fluid. I was hours away from death.

"After about a week I started to regain consciousness and come round. I didn’t know where I was or what had happened to me until my family told me that I was in the hospital having contracted meningitis.

"Shortly after, I realised that I couldn’t walk or carry out the very basic tasks, such as washing myself. After about a month I was transferred back to Calderdale to recover, which in total took over 5 months. A lot had happened during those 5 months, but I am grateful to still being here. I cannot thank enough the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, carers and all the others involved in my recovery at both hospitals and this includes my family – who have been by my side all the way.

"My meningitis experience has left me with a number of after-effects. I now struggle with my walking, I have back pain, insomnia, spasms, and feel drained and tired easily when doing the bare minimum.

Achieving my goals

"Despite this experience and the challenges it has thrown at me, I have continued with my education and now I am in my final year at university. I have also passed my driving test in a car adapted to my needs, which is great as I love to travel and I’m determined not to let meningitis prevent me from achieving any of the goals I had before I contracted the disease.

"From being a healthy and active young girl with no underlying health conditions to how I am today is shocking for both me and my family - I can certainly say meningitis has changed my life. And yet, I’m grateful to be here, some 6 years, after I contracted the disease. I have up and down days but I won this battle and will continue to be as positive as I can, knowing that a full recovery is going to be an ongoing challenge."

Meningitis Now is here to support young people

Click on the link box to find out about our Believe and Achieve programme, specifically aimed at supporting 14-25 year olds with a meningitis experience.

Meningitis Now Believe & Achieve B&A LB - Media Wall

You can read the Royal Society for Public Health's call for more mental health support for young people during lock down.

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