Helen K's story

12th February 2015

Helen fell desperately ill with the brain bug and it initially left her unable to walk and facing a long recovery period. But the youngster has battled her way back to full health 


Helen remembers how she initially developed a "massive" headache when she was at a family friend's house with her mum Tracey.

She said: "I cried when I told my mum how ill I felt, which wasn't like me. I went home and went to bed but I was up all night being sick. I passed out twice too. Once, the ironing board fell on me as I started to fall. A bruise started to appear on my leg which we figured must have been from the ironing board. The doctors weren't open because it was a Sunday so we called NHS Direct, who told my dad to do the glass test on my bruise. Meningitis had never crossed our mind but the mark didn't fade so we called an ambulance."

Given antibiotics straight away

A paramedic gave Helen antibiotics straightaway, which doctors later said saved her life. She was sedated and put on a ventilator for five days, while her parents Danny and Tracey waited anxiously to find out whether she'd suffered any brain damage. Thankfully Helen woke up in Sheffield's Children Hospital, oblivious to how ill she had been.

She said: "I came round and started pulling all the tubes out, although I couldn't breathe for myself.

"I was still poorly but thankfully hadn't lost any limbs or been left brain damaged. They transferred me back to Chesterfield, where I had to use a wheelchair because my body was so weak after being immobile for five days."

Helen was diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia, which is caused when the meningitis B bacteria enter the blood stream and multiply uncontrollably, poisoning the blood and completely overwhelming the immune system. She was finally allowed home after two weeks in hospital but wasn't allowed to start back at school for another three weeks.

Tired really easily

Helen then started back in Year 10 on a part-time basis because she became tired really easily and got bad headaches. Now, two years on and she's made an inspirational recovery and has just started her A-levels.

Helen added: "I had to take beta blockers for my head but gradually came off them. I have slight hearing loss but don't notice it and feel absolutely fine now, except for a few scars.

"People are shocked when they hear how ill I was. The worst thing is that everyone knows to look out for a stiff neck and dislike of bright light, but I didn't have these symptoms."

  • Matthew G MenB bacterial meningitis case study

    Matthew G's story

    Trying to stand for the first time, my legs would just not support me, I couldn't do it

  • Matt B bacterial meningitis case study

    Matt's story

    Little did I know though that this would be a year that would change my life forever

  • Eliza pneumococcal bacterial meningitis case study

    Eliza's story

    We were told that she only had an 8% chance of survival and to say our goodbyes to her

  • Alexandra bacterial meningitis case study

    Alexandra's story

    I was given various medicines and a lumbar puncture then taken into intensive care