Louisa W's story

27th May 2021

Louisa, now living in Shropshire, suffered a series of catastrophic illnesses when she was just 23. Following an awful migraine that lasted for three months she contracted bacterial meningitis, suffered a stroke then, a few days later, had a cavernous sinus thrombosis (under the brain) which forced her eye out on to her cheek

Louisa W bacterial meningitis case study

Today, 18 years later, she is still recovering, but glad to be here to tell her story.

“My memory is not what it was but I remember becoming unwell just after a Christmas period.

“I was working three jobs, under a lot of stress and being bullied at work. Without realising it I fell into a downward spiral.

“I lived on my own and one day I remember phoning my parents and telling them I didn’t feel very well.

“My Mum told me to come home for tea and just try to relax as she knew I’d been very stressed. When I got there I had an almighty headache which tablets didn’t shift.

Took me to hospital

“My health deteriorated in the New Year even though I was being cared for. My parents knew something was wrong and had to push my GP to admit me to hospital. I was now very weak and admitted with “dehydration”. My head was absolutely pounding and got to the point where I actually passed out.

“My parents were at my bedside and waiting for a doctor to examine me. Luckily, a nursing friend of mine just happened to walk by the ward when my face dropped and she realised I had just had a stroke. I was taken away and placed in the Infectious Diseases ward. Although I didn’t have the often-associated rash, I was eventually diagnosed with streptococcal meningitis.

“A few days later, I suffered a cavernous sinus thrombosis. I was too weak for an operation and my parents had to make a very difficult decision with the consultant. To go with an operation, which I may not survive, or with an option to try blood thinning to prevent further thromboses. Thankfully, the blood-thinning option eventually worked.

“I was in hospital for five weeks and struggled with any form of light and sound.  My hospital care was amazing and I was very grateful for all of my ‘angels’.

Couldn’t speak or make sense

“I couldn’t speak or make sense of what was being said. I just could not believe that all of this actually happened to me, a very young 23-year-old.

“The Hallamshire Hospital and the Northern General in Sheffield were the two main hospitals where I used to work before being taken ill and they both saved my life.

“I am incredibly grateful to still be here to share my story with other people.

“It’s been 18 years now and I’m still recovering. I now have my wonderful angels in Shropshire who are giving me more hand and foot physio. I have had nine operations on my right foot, but I am grateful I still have all my limbs and will always have a weakness on that side. 

“I have a disability, like most meningitis/stroke sufferers, but I am here to let others know that there is hope. It took a long time to understand the symptoms of acquired brain injury and I seem to have most. Despite this I have not lost my singing voice and have since sung in some amazing places.

“With the help of everyone at hospital and my amazing Mum and Dad for all the help they have given me, I know I am totally blessed. I can’t work full-time again; they told me that 18 years ago when I almost died, but I am getting stronger every day.

“I am unbelievably thankful and so much mentally stronger, knowing my life has been turned upside down for the better.”

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