Eleanor was seven weeks old when she contracted what she now knows to be viral meningitis
Now in her teens, Eleanor, from Norfolk, is determined not to let her after-effects hold her back and has strong aspirations for her future, inspired by her favourite television programmes and high-profile meningitis survivor, Tilly Lockey.
“Hi, I’m Eleanor, and I’m 15 years old. I live in my hometown of Norwich with my mum, dad, brother and dog.
“I had a little bit of health wobbles when I was born, and when I was seven weeks old, I became quite poorly. My parents took me to the doctors, and told them about what was happening with me. They didn’t know about meningitis back then, so they assumed it was other things. But after tests the doctors said I needed to be in hospital urgently.
“I had a lumbar puncture, which was frightening for my parents to watch and it was very painful. I can’t remember much of it, but this was all according to my parents. I was only in the hospital for about four days, but it was four days of hoping and praying for my mum and dad. They didn’t know what was wrong.
Confidence to speak
“Three years later, when I received an autism diagnosis, our doctor asked if I’d had any illness or disease in the past. My parents said no. The doctor said, “Well this says she’s had meningitis as a baby“. My parents were gobsmacked and thought, “Oh, that’s what happened to her!” I have read something that said meningitis can leave you with learning difficulties, and so I may have developed autism rather than being born with it.
“We don’t consider this experience as a ginormous long one, and don’t talk about it very often, but seeing that other people have had meningitis through Meningitis Now’s social media has given me the confidence to speak about my story. I recently discovered Tilly Lockey, who has spoken about her meningitis experience lots publicly, and I told her on social media that I’d had it too and how brave she is. I know someone else whose sister contracted meningitis as well.
“When I grow up I want to be in the police. I also want to be a pop star. I get inspired by things on TV such as Police Interceptors, and The Voice Kids UK, which I have auditioned for before. I am writing books about special needs as well. I have always wanted to be a celebrity that goes on Strictly Come Dancing, which I have watched since I was seven years old. I just want to be successful in the future.”