Chloe O’s story

27th April 2018

Thirty-one-year-old single mum Chloe, from Birmingham, is still struggling with the after-effects of viral meningitis two years after she first became ill. She wishes people would take the disease more seriously. She tells her story here

Chloe O

“It started with a migraine one Sunday evening in April around 8pm. I thought it was because I had been reading a book and was straining my eyes!"

“I took paracetamol and ibuprofen and went to bed. I couldn't sleep because the pain just got worse, it felt like my head was going to explode! I managed about two hours sleep and I woke up on Monday morning and had to get my two children, then 2 and 5, ready for school."

“I was so dizzy and sick. I assumed it was a 24-hour bug so tried to sleep it off. I went to the doctors on the Tuesday and was given strong antibiotics."

A bit of a blur

“For the next three days it was a bit of a blur. I was asleep for a lot of it, aching and struggling with the migraine when I was awake. I went back to the doctors on the Friday and they sent me straight to hospital with suspected viral meningitis. I was admitted and had a lumbar puncture the next day to confirm this. I was in for a week and then I begged them to let me home because I missed my kids! They sent me home with antivirals and told me to rest."

Trying to be a mom

“After two weeks of pretty much bed rest at home I started to feel able to have my children back full time. I was nowhere near being 'back to normal' but had to try and get back to being a mom. In July 2016 I was admitted again for another lumbar puncture to confirm it had come back and I suddenly had a horrendous migraine again and stiff neck. I was only in a day and they sent me home again with antivirals."

“It’s now almost two years since I first got viral meningitis and my doctor only yesterday requested bloodwork to rule out some things because she thinks I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."

Constantly tired, drained and exhausted

“I am constantly tired, drained and exhausted. My memory is terrible, my body aches a lot and I'm still getting bad headaches or migraines. I am also struggling with depression. We shall see what all the bloodwork says."

“I just wish that people wouldn't say ‘it was only viral meningitis, it's not as serious’, ‘online sites say 7 to 10 days to get over viral meningitis; you can’t still be struggling', 'you look okay!’"

“I may look okay to most people but I certainly don't feel it! It makes being a single mom very hard. Trying to look after 4 and 7-year-olds whilst feeling so drained is hard, especially when nobody seems to believe you!”

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