Mike M's story

16th October 2019

Seventy-two-year-old Mike, from Biggin Hill in Kent, fell ill with meningococcal meningitis in September last year. He had been feeling a bit weary during the day and woke up six days later in intensive care. Although his health had been declining over the year he had a decent run in the woods with his dog the day before

Mike M's Meningococcal meningitis story

Now he’s battling to improve his fitness and he remains positive about the future, despite the devastating effect the disease has had on his life.

“I went up to bed a little before my wife, Meg. I had been below par all day. I didn’t run with my running group in the morning and cancelled my volunteering stint at the local theatre in Bromley and a visit to a local Rotary Club. My wife came upstairs to find me sprawled over the bed, sweating profusely and unconscious. She called the emergency services. This call certainly saved my life. How do you repay a debt like that? I was in a coma and on a ventilator at the Princess Royal University Hospital. I came to some six days later and was discharged from the ICU."

Many after-effects

“I was profoundly deaf, immobile and wheelchair bound. My eyesight was impaired with my left eye out of focus with the right. I was doubly incontinent. My legs ‘fizzed’ all the time. I was in hospital for seven months, the last 20 weeks being in rehab at Orpington Hospital."

“The NHS were superb. They saved my life and have worked very hard on my rehabilitation. But it wasn’t enough. I needed more time in rehab and have gone backwards since leaving. I spent four months in two care homes, neither being remotely satisfactory. I needed more treatment and I needed physio."

Back home

“I have been at home for eight weeks with carers coming in three times a day. This has been good for me but not so good for my wife and 28-year-old autistic son, Andrew. My hearing has hardly improved with a cochlear implant and a separate hearing aid. It is a work in progress with St Thomas audiology team. My left eye needs an operation, which will be scheduled at some point in time."

“I’ve been told I will never walk again but I’m hoping that physio will help me get to the situation where I can independently transfer between bed and wheelchair without a hoist. I self catheterise, which has been a successful and convenient way of emptying my bladder. My bowels are a problem and this will be addressed shortly at a colorectal clinic."

Worst problems neurological

“My worst problem seems to be neurological. My ‘fizzing’ legs have continually worsened over the past year and they are permanently swollen and feel like they are burning and are about to explode. Occasionally they throb quite violently. My body is swollen and my stomach is bloated. It is very stiff and it is hard for me to sit up."

“I do body and arm exercises with a weight but have done no leg exercise since leaving Orpington Hospital, where I used their exercise bike three times a week. Nobody seems to have a clue how to treat me and relieve the discomfort that I am continually in. But I am lucky to be alive and see and hold a grandchild born to my youngest daughter just before Christmas. And what a joy to witness some wonderful sport this summer, which is continuing until November with the Rugby World Cup."

Improve my physical condition

“I hope to really get to grips with physio to improve my physical condition. Thirteen months since the attack, I am alive and kicking and positive about the future. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Well, this is the second time around for me. Twenty-five years ago I had viral meningitis from which I made a full recovery. This time ‘lightning’ did a more thorough job!"  

“I was delighted to receive a visit from Steve (Meningitis Now Executive Founder Steve Dayman) and very pleased that my friends organised a fundraiser in my name for Meningitis Now and Deaf Plus."

Overwhelming and emotional fundraiser

“This was an overwhelming and emotional event attended by nearly 200 friends, Rotary colleagues, runners from my local group (Zero to Heroes) and family. Over £4,000 was raised with one friend making a personal donation of £1,000. There were some wonderful postings and comments about a fabulous event, with entertainment from the excellent Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) and the choir I used to sing with, London Concert Chorus, led by Georg Torman. Local tenor, Gari Glaysher also made a well-received contribution. Sadly I couldn’t hear any of it. That has been the worst aspect of all, not being able to hear any music during the past year."

Positive about my future

“But I’m still here and very positive about my future. Steve’s visit was inspiring. If I can help others like him then I would be very happy. I am used to giving talks and am looking forward to giving one shortly to my Rotary Club about my experiences during the past year."

“But it has been a devastating experience.  I have lost a year of my life. I cannot have a proper conversation with anyone. I am a burden on my wife and cannot help and support my 28-year-old autistic son like I used to. My wife and a carer, who we pay, have had to fill in for me. There are so many things I can’t do in the house. I can’t go upstairs. I can’t have a shower. I am almost totally dependent on others.”

Our photo shows Mike and his youngest daughter Maria at the fundraiser on Thursday 3 October.

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