Since that first time the 31-year-old, from Loughton in Essex, has had meningitis twice more and is learning to live with the recurring form of the disease.
“I had a cold/flu for a few days but knew the Easter break was coming up (I work in a school) so pushed through.
“The first day off I promised my SEN (special educational needs) son we’d go to the Lego shop. I fell faint and needed to lie on the floor, so we left. On the way home I said to stop as I needed to lie on the floor.
“We went home and I went straight to bed, the pain worsening. I had pain in the back of my head, behind my eyes and my entire body felt strange and awful. I remember my teeth chattering so, so much and begging for more covers, but was told I was sweating and far too warm.
Needed to sleep
“I kept saying I needed to sleep, but the next thing I knew paramedics were at my bedside.
“I don’t remember the journey into hospital, but I remember doors crashing and shouting to ‘get her into a side room, she has meningitis.’
“I was thinking I will be sent home soon, they always think the worst. I couldn’t open my eyes and I asked the nurse if I had a rash. She said ‘no’.
“I went for a lumbar puncture and I was so out of it that it didn’t bother me at all. Then I had a head scan and it came back saying I had it. I was put in a room on my own near the nurses’ desk.
My eyes ringing
“My eyes ringing with the slightest noise, lying in pitch black and just being given medication after medication, I remember being violently sick and the smell of M&Ms chocolates. Since being in hospital again I’ve realised this is the blue gloves they wear (have a smell when you can, haha). I remember hearing rustling aprons and so many voices outside. The slightest noise really irritated me, my brain was hurting so much.
“Once I was feeling okayish I was sent home with Tramadol – two pills twice a day. Well, I was out of it most of the time. I felt so weak and it took so long to walk the 10 steps from my room to the toilet.
“Then I decided I’d have to buck up my ideas and push myself. Wrong move! By the middle of May I was back in hospital for a week, suffering the same original symptoms but not so out of it this time.
“The doctors struggled with the lumbar puncture but after about 12 tries and a very, very sore back they managed and said it's a recurring meningitis. I was home after a week and I knew recovery had to be slow. And slow it was. When I could, I would do something, but I knew the next day I would be wiped out.
Had it twice since
“I have had it twice since, the last one being September 2018. I was at a caravan site and just came over unwell. Next morning an ambulance came and I was taken to the local hospital. After the same tests were carried out I was told meningitis.
“It's scary and for a while I always panicked, but now I have learnt to live with that and the after-effects. It’s had a big impact on my and my family’s life –my hearing has changed, my memory is shocking and my energy levels are bad.
“Meningitis Now has helped me with complementary therapy and through their Family Days.”