Georgia A's story

26th January 2016

While on her travels in China, 23-year-old Georgia, of Hertfordshire, began suffering with on-going headaches, dizziness and a general feeling of 'un-wellness'

Georgia Letterbox
She put her symptoms down to jetlag and a bit of dehydration but her condition soon took a turn for the worse. Georgia developed a fever and was suffering from delirium, distorted vision, vomiting, a complete loss of hearing, numbness in her hands and legs. She then began fainting and suffering from seizures. 

Unbeknown to her, Georgia had contracted meningitis. Still unable to remember what happen next, Georgia recalls her friends account of what happened to her.

“I was excited to be travelling alone like many young people do nowadays and had chosen to explore China. It was 4th September and I had been in China three days before I was hit by meningitis, and had overlooked, what I can only assume were symptoms, as jetlag and dehydration."

“I felt headachey and sick but continued as much as I could. On the third night the headache/sickness had become a lot worse and I insisted on missing dinner and booking myself into a private room instead of the 12 bed dorm I was staying in."

“I text my mum telling her how poorly I felt, I was so hot so ran myself a cold shower which I sat in for easily 45 minutes before going to bed at approximately 6pm."

I don't remember what happened

“I slept through the night and was woken with a huge jump at about 11am by someone banging on my door (which was actually a friend I had asked to check on me). As I jumped up a huge head rush hit me and my vision went blurry to the point I had to sit down."

“It was unlike me to sleep for 16 hours without any disturbances. I returned to the dorm but put myself to bed gutted to be missing out again, while everyone else continued with activities."

“After dozing all day and feeling no better, but like I was wasting my time in China, I got myself up and joined in with the next activity that evening - cormorant fishing."

“On the boat in the dark, I was unable to focus on what was happening around me or distinguish the voices from my friends as I could only focus on how my head was about to explode by the brightness of the boats headlight."

“When the fishing did finally end, we began making our way back to the taxi. I paced ahead but my hearing suddenly disappeared into complete silence. My vision was blurred but I could see the world flipping in front of me, and a rush of numbness took over my legs. I then collapsed."

“From here on I do not have full memory of what happened, only what my friend (who I met in China) and our tour guide, Sally, have told me as they stayed with my throughout."

I was in and out of consciousness

“I was taken back to the hostel, I was conscious but had no awareness of who anyone was or what was going on around me. Apparently when we reached the hostel I was led on the entrance sofa drifting in and out of consciousness and continuously violently sick."

“I'm told I was then carried to the dorm and laid on the bed. I remained unconscious and began fitting too. As we were in such a remote location of China (Yangshuo) medical help apparently took its time to arrive, and the others were begging for me to stay awake, covering me in wet towels, and trying to get water into me, believing it could be severe dehydration."

“I'm told that when medical help did arrive, they did not own a stretcher so had to carry me to the ambulance in a body bag. I was taken to a hospital, which my friend told me was so poor and so horrendous that there is no possible way you could call it a hospital."

“I continued to be sick, going in and out of consciousness, fitting multiple times, and lashing out (extremely unlike me). My friend was apparently handed a dirty bin which had other patients’ blood etc. in it for me to be sick in."

“She tells me how she used her anti-bac hand gel to clean me as the doctors did not have anything.

I believe she saved my life

"I had all the immediate tests that they were able to do here, but my friend said this was only done because money was the incentive and she was crying and shouting hysterically at them to help me."

“She said I was in such an uncontrollable way that the doctors were unable to fit the drip into me as I was ripping it out, and in the end they had to talk her through how to do it as I would only allow her near me (I guess because she had a familiar voice)."

“Having spoken to my doctors at home and researching meningitis, I strongly believe that she saved my life having done this."

"By this point I was out cold, and the current hospital was unable to deal with me so I was transferred to a hospital in Guilin (approx. 2 hours away). I still have absolutely no recollection of this time."

"It was at this second hospital my parents were told (who were now flying to Hong Kong to get to me) that I was suffering from encephalitis and water on the brain."

I had meningitis

“I woke up, and next became aware on Sunday 6th. It was then that they tried to do a lumbar puncture, but as the conditions here were also very poor (no running tap water, unclean toilets, patients laying on the floor in corridors etc.), and with advice from my parents, the tour company, and my own comfort, I refused to have the procedure."

“They kept me on the drip."

"My parents had now arrived in Hong Kong (unable to get into China due to the visa situation) so I was moved to a Hong Kong hospital. Through family friends we were advised of a private neurologist who saw me, and it was here that we first learnt that in fact I had meningitis and I was taken to an isolation unit."

“By now it was 9th September and I had been on a drip continuously to help me fight this infection. I had the lumbar puncture, with two doctors and five nurses giving me proper attention and cleanliness, followed by MRI and CT scans, but they were unable to determine what strain of meningitis I had contracted due to the time and medicines already in me. However, I remained in the Hong Kong isolation hospital for 10 days."

I cannot believe how lucky I have been

“I was finally discharged and able to be with my parents in a hotel. I was unable to walk for some time after - it wasn't that I couldn't walk, it was that I simply didn't have the strength or energy to send the message to move my legs. It was some time before I could fly home."

“My hearing was left affected, I have never remembered what happened and I lost my memory of other small things, such as my phone password. I still have not remembered these. I also suffered from daily headaches for quite some time."

“I have had severe back pain and am currently having physio as well as meeting with a consultant. Not only that, I have been left with fatigue, anxiety and nightmares."

"Throughout all this time the ordeal I had been through never quite sunk in. Looking back and writing it out makes it feel so unbelievable; that such a frightening illness can happen to anyone, and in such a place as I was. I cannot believe how lucky I have been.”

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