Katie's story

1st October 2011

In October 2011, Katie Atkinson was working as a paramedic when she was diagnosed with viral meningitis. It left her with severe after-effects, which forced her to change the job she loved

Katie

"My illness began with a mild headache. Then, at 2am, I woke up in severe pain. I was unable to open my eyes, I couldn’t stand any light and my headache was unbearable. Then, the dizziness and vomiting began. I was very pale, and painkillers just didn’t work.

"My husband drove me to see my GP who examined me thoroughly. My left pupil was dilated, and he told me to go straight to A&E where I was given painkillers, had blood tests and underwent a head scan. The following morning I was told the scan was clear, but they needed to perform a lumbar puncture, and this confirmed I had viral meningitis.

"I wanted to be looked after at home and I spent the next two to three months lying completely flat to relieve the pressure in my head. I was unable to look after my daughters, and I was entirely dependent on my family.

Left devastated

"As a result of not being able to recover physically, I was forced to give up my job as a paramedic and take an NHS office based role. This has left me devastated as I loved my job. For months, my doctor refused to let me attend the course that would allow me to be able to do my office job. Eventually, after a lot of persuasion, it was agreed I was able do the course and I now take ambulance calls on a part-time basis.

"My recovery was very slow due to so many setbacks. It was only after having physiotherapy on the thoracic area of my spine that I started to get better. The physiotherapist told me that because I had been immobile for so long, my nerves weren’t functioning efficiently, and this was causing the headaches, dizziness and fatigue. Finally, 18 months later, there is light at the end of the tunnel."

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