For most of last year, I was an average, normal 40-year-old. Then, at the end of August 2012, I began to feel unwell with what I just assumed was the dreaded ‘man flu’. However, after a day it became apparent that there was more wrong with me than I had first thought.
My partner was away for the weekend and I took the unusual step for me of phoning the ShropDoc – the out of hours GP service – as I was struggling. The nurse over the phone was very helpful and after describing my symptoms she diagnosed me with an infection and prescribed me a course of antibiotics.
A friend kindly collected the prescription for me, and when he arrived at my house he was stunned at how bad I looked. He suggested I go and see someone but, being a stubborn male, I said I would just sweat it out. However, my condition deteriorated and when my partner returned she made me go to the doctors.
By this point I was burning up, had a severe headache with serious pains in my neck, and sensitivity to light. I still had no idea what was wrong.
The GP saw me, and without hesitation, rang the hospital and told me to go straight there. From this point on my memory of events are only those that I have been told; I could not remember anything as I slipped in and out of consciousness.
I was assessed in the A&E department and then transferred to a medical assessment ward where the consultants suspected that I had contracted meningitis. I underwent a lumbar puncture, which ruled out bacterial meningitis but confirmed I had viral meningitis.
Whilst on the ward, my condition deteriorated. I was hooked up to a drip and was administered both antibiotics and antiviral drugs to combat the infection.
I spent a few days in hospital then, with my condition being serious, I was transferred to and cared for by the High Dependency Unit. After one month, in hospital I was discharged and went home. However, this was not the end of my recovery; it was just the beginning.
A different person
The illness had changed me somewhat. I went from a fairly mild tempered individual to someone who was frustrated, angry and confused.
I had a pronounced stutter when I spoke, and my usually very sharp mind and memory had left me. I couldn’t remember people’s names, or if I knew them, even close friends.
I suffered from vertigo, and at times I couldn’t even stand up without falling all over the place. I lost the will to do simple tasks like shave or wash, and it was down to my amazing partner to care for me and try to get me motivated to do simple things. This was a massive contrast to what I was like before I got ill, when I wouldn’t leave the house unless I looked presentable.
Help from Meningitis Now
When I went to see the GP he put me in touch with Meningitis Now and they sent out a visitor who talked us through what I had been through. He told us there were others who had suffered the same and that it would take time to recover, but there was a high likelihood I would return to my old ways eventually.
This visit, and other contact with Meningitis Now, was the start of my recovery. In time I began to feel more normal and many of my symptoms began to reduce in intensity.
One year on, I am not fully recovered, but I have returned to work and I have got most of my memory back although I still forget some things.
My frustration levels are much more in check and the fatigue levels I experienced are not as severe as before. I still get tired, I still forget things, I still get frustrated but I am more like my old self.
I will be honest and say I never really thought meningitis could affect adults, let alone think that I would get it, but I did. I count myself fortunate to have had the support of an amazing partner, friends, family, medical staff and Meningitis Now to help me get through the last 12 months.
Not everyone is as fortunate as I was to get through this, but my message to anyone who has this terrible illness is that you can get through it, and to everyone else is please be aware of this illness – it’s not just babies and children who are struck down by it.
Although I am not 100%, better my close friend suggested we set a target of walking Hadrian’s Wall at the end of October this year. I love walking and have a great interest in the Roman Empire. This walk is a person challenge for me as it is going to put my physical wellbeing to the test and also my mental strength and will power.
But, I accepted the challenge and I am currently doing plenty of walking and bike riding to try and get into shape for the event. I decided that this personal challenge would represent a great opportunity to give something back to those that helped me, Meningitis Now. Therefore, I have set up a webpage where people can support me in this challenge by sponsoring me at www.virginmoneygiving.com/markshore.