Charlotte B's story

5th April 2022

Twenty-four-year-old Charlotte fell ill shortly after visiting London for the weekend, with a severe headache. Her symptoms worsened and she was taken to A&E, where a lumbar puncture eventually diagnosed viral meningitis

Charlotte B viral meningitis case study

She had a month off work and even now, nearly a year later, still suffers exhaustion. But Charlotte, from Chester, is thriving and active, as she tells us here.

“Last July I had travelled to London to visit the Royal Albert Hall with my boyfriend and a few friends. I felt absolutely fine all week. 

“When I returned from London, about three days later I started to get a headache. I thought nothing of it, took painkillers and then went to sleep. 

“The next morning I woke up and went about my normal day. By 5pm that night (Saturday night) the headache was back and I didn’t feel quite right. I felt as if I had been hit by a bus. I took more pain relief and went to bed. 

Hit with a baseball bat

“On the Sunday morning I woke up with what can best be described as a ‘tension’ style headache, like I’d been hit on the back of the head with a baseball bat. I couldn’t move my neck or touch my chest with my chin! 

“I rang the doctors on Monday morning, who prescribed me Naproxen for a tension headache. The only issue was at this point I couldn’t keep food or water down. I was vomiting every half an hour and felt absolutely horrendous. 

“By 3am on the Tuesday morning I was taken to A&E by my parents, as they knew something was not right. I got to A&E and was seen in about eight hours of being there and put on a drip of pain relief and fluids as I was severely dehydrated. 

Painful lumbar puncture

“They admitted me and sent me to ‘isolation’ to make sure I didn’t have Covid. That came back negative later on Tuesday night. I was then told they didn’t know what was up and I was in an ICU ward due to how unwell I was at the time. On the Wednesday night they did a lumbar puncture on me but this was done incorrectly and they failed to get a sample (PAINFUL!). 

“I didn’t manage to get another lumbar puncture until the Friday, despite them thinking I had meningitis. Friday came and I finally had the lumbar picture and they sent the fluids off for testing. I was out of hospital within a week, with a viral meningitis diagnosis. 

“I’ve been lucky. I still have after-effects – extreme tiredness and the odd headache and back pain. However, it could have been so much worse! I have never felt so ill or been so scared in my life! Meningitis is no joke and I honestly at one point did not know how I was going to continue with the pain and discomfort I was in. I have a high pain threshold but that was severely testing it! I think I cried every night I was in hospital ha! 

Not just kids or young babies

“Meningitis is not just in kids or young babies, adults can get it and it can be severe. There is something haunting about being told you may have meningitis, but they don’t know what type. I count my lucky stars it was viral, but as they could not treat it I had nearly a month off work. 

“I can’t get a headache now without the fear I have it again. But we’re more aware of it now and the symptoms to look out for 

 “I’m still exhausted at times, but I’m thriving and I’m active. That is the main thing.” 

Share your viral meningitis story for Viral Meningitis Awareness Week (1 - 8 May 2022).

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