Lynne M's story

25th March 2020

Lynne from Carnoustie in Angus, Scotland started getting headaches when she was taking part in a fundraising effort for her sister-in-law’s cancer treatment. After a terrible night of shaking and sweating, she decided to seek medical help and went on to be diagnosed with meningitis

Lynne M viral meningitis case study

Lynne, 28, has since recovered but says it has made her family even more concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. She told us her story:

“When the headaches first started in October last year I was two days away from completing a 60 day exercise challenge to raise funds for my sister-in-law’s cancer treatment. I thought I was coming down with your typical head cold. I used all the strength I had left at a Bootcamp session, but even my instructor knew something was off.

“All I could remember was the agonising pain from the headaches, so when I got home I asked my fiancé to run me a bath in an attempt to sweat out this “cold”, and off I went. What felt like a few moments later, I woke up after a cold splash of water hit my face. It was then that my fiancé told me I collapsed in the bath. I was shaking uncontrollably and I couldn’t open my eyes as the light was literally blinding me. I had never felt a headache like this before. 

“We called the doctor the next morning after a night of shaking and sweating. They offered me an emergency appointment first thing the morning and then the biggest shock came. I couldn’t find balance on my left leg, to which my fiancé had to carry me to the car whilst keeping my hood up to shade myself from sunlight. It was then I realised that this was much more than just a cold. Something was definitely not right. 

One of the most frightening moments of my life

“Upon examination from my GP, she discovered a rash on the bottom of my back. I was told that my symptoms were an indicator of shingles. However, my GP advised that I head straight to Ninewells Hospital (in Dundee), handing a folded up piece of paper to my fiancé and asking him to hand it over to the reception desk at AMU (Acute Medical Unit). Upon arrival, I was given a wheelchair and taken into a dark room to help with my headache. A few hours later, I was placed into the infectious disease ward with a scheduled lumbar puncture. Less than 24 hours beforehand, I was sitting in uni with a cold patch on my forehead. Needless to say, it was definitely one the most frightening moments of my life. 

“After the lumbar puncture, I was advised by a consultant that the tests confirmed viral meningitis. I was left shocked and somewhat confused - didn’t meningitis only happen to babies or young children? I guess not. The consultant proceeded to treatment straightaway, placing me on drips of anti-virals, as well as steroids and painkillers. What I thought would be an overnight stay became 10 days in hospital. 

“Upon discharge, it took me a while to walk properly again. I was given a set of crutches to help me move around the house, and around university campus eventually. I was back on my feet after roughly four weeks. The headaches took a while to disappear but I’m so relieved to say that after five months, I finally feel back to myself again. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones, especially making a full recovery. 

“The best advice I can give to those who experience symptoms like mine is to get in contact with NHS24 (in Scotland; 111 in other parts of the UK) ASAP. I reckon if I left it any longer then my situation would have been a lot worse! Meningitis is such a life changing disease and is often deeply misunderstood by others who haven’t experienced it.

Coping mechanisms

“Since it happened, the support from Meningitis Now has been so helpful to get my life back on track. The helpline has been great for me to release my stress and anger about my diagnosis and advice from their website has assisted me with different coping mechanisms during my recovery. 

“It took around five months to make a full recovery from meningitis. My family are still anxious of it occurring again, and are more concerned about the current coronavirus outbreak. I am feeling much better at the moment, as the headaches don’t appear nearly as often as it did upon my diagnosis. I feel that I am close to a full recovery now which fills me with such relief.”

Note: Despite there being no known link between meningitis and coronavirus, we know that this will be an extremely worrying time for people who've been affected by meningitis. If you're worried and would like to talk to someone then you can contact our Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or helpline@meningitisnow.org.

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