India's story

18th May 2021

India was 17 when she became ill on her way home from holiday. Initially meningitis was ruled out, despite the presence of a rash, but later confirmed by further tests

India bacterial meningococcal meningitis case study

Fortunately India went on to make a good recovery and to celebrate this and support our work she took on a 400km bike ride along the hilly Great Ocean Road on the Victoria Coast of Australia, as she tells us here. 

“In August 2014 when I was 17, I contracted bacterial meningitis type C (Meningococcal) and septicaemia on my way home from a holiday. 

“What at first felt like a normal case of tonsillitis soon turned into an unimaginable nightmare. We only started to suspect something more serious when one of my older sisters spotted the tell-tale marks of septicaemia (blood poisoning) on my arms, which prompted us to seek medical attention.

“We went off to the small rural hospital just to be ‘better safe than sorry’ where, despite having the most alarming symptom of all (the rash!) meningitis was quickly dismissed, simply because I didn’t have other common signs such as a stiff neck or photosensitivity. 

Deteriorate further

“The afternoon quickly turned into a seemingly never-ending seven hours of my parents watching me deteriorate further with increasingly painful headaches, vomiting, brain scans and endless blood tests, before a lumbar puncture finally confirmed that I did in fact have meningococcal septicaemia. 

“I was rapidly transferred to ICU where I was put in an induced coma and on full life support – so that my body was given the best chance possible to fight the infection whilst I was pumped with antibiotics and other medication. I have no recollection at all of the following five days.

“I woke up without a clue of where I was, what had happened or even what meningitis was. I was still in a lot of pain and discomfort and spent the following 10 days in ICU trying to make sense of what had happened, all the while having multiple daily blood tests, injections and physiotherapy for an ensuing lung infection and to rebuild my leg muscles that had lost all strength whilst bed-bound.

Frustrating and upsetting

“To begin with, I was unable to do anything for myself which was both extremely frustrating and upsetting as I just wanted ‘to feel normal again’. However, with excellent support from my family, friends and the medical staff as well as sheer determination to get back to school in September and start playing sport again I grew stronger every day and after 10 days in ICU and a further three days on a ward, I finally went home.

“The following couple of months were not easy and I was often caught off guard with extreme tiredness. However, I am overall extremely lucky to have made it through this experience with only a couple of injection scars and bad memories, but otherwise unscathed.

“Just over a year after my experience I found out about Meningitis Now and all of the amazing things that the charity does and the array of services it has to offer those who have been affected by meningitis in any way. 

Challenged ourselves to bike ride

“To support the charity, 18 months after my stint in hospital, a friend and I challenged ourselves with an entirely self-funded and untrained 400km bike ride along the hilly Great Ocean Road on the Victorian Coast of Australia, from which we managed to raise around £12,000. I would now like to become a further part of Meningitis Now, to help raise more awareness around meningitis and the help that is available for all those who have been through or had any contact with this terrifying illness.

“I’m so lucky to have come away from meningitis the way I did and I hope that my story will give hope and show people that these stories don't always end badly, as I know hearing that would have given my family and friends a great deal of encouragement whilst they were sitting worried at my bedside.”

Read more about India’s Great Ocean Road bike ride.

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