Sarah H's story

6th June 2019

From watching fireworks with what she thought was just a bad cold, to a cardiac arrest, induced coma and failing organs all within a short period of time – Sarah, from Gillingham in Kent, was eventually diagnosed with bacterial meningitis

Sarah H bacterial meningitis case study

Sarah, who has recently turned 50, tells her terrifying story to show how important is it for people to that Adults Get it Too.

“I had been off work a few days with a cold that had been doing the rounds but felt better and went out with friends for fireworks on 3 November 2017. I don’t remember much of the evening apart from thinking my drink had been spiked. I felt cold and strange. I now realise I had obviously become delirious and was taken home to sleep it off."

“I have no memory of what happened next but my daughter, who was only 16 and out for the day, started to get concerned that she couldn’t get in touch with me. She phoned my parents and they couldn’t either, so they met at our home late that afternoon and found me semi-conscious, hanging off my bed."

Wasn't expected to survive the night

“I was taken to hospital, where I had a cardiac arrest - it took 10 minutes for them to revive me. My daughter was told to get those who loved me to come because I wasn’t expected to survive the night. Thankfully I did."

“I was placed in an induced coma, was ventilated and my organs one by one began to fail. My legs, hands and nose started to turn black. Two weeks later I was woken from the coma. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t take in where I was or what had happened. My kidneys were failing and I was on haemofiltration 24/7."

“Over 6 weeks I got stronger but was devastated when they told me the damage to my feet and legs was irreversible and that both my legs would need to be amputated below the knee. I just remembered crying constantly. I had my amputation 6 weeks later. After 10 weeks I was allowed home and started rehab."

Physio

“I was lucky to get measured and fitted for prosthetic legs within weeks and then started physio to learn how to use them. Thankfully my kidneys started to improve and are up from 12% functioning to 45%. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go back to my home and so had to move."

“The emotional after-effects in a way far outweighed the physical limitations to start with. I felt as if my whole life had been destroyed. I felt guilty that my child and parents had to experience something so awful and that all independence and control had been taken away from me."

“I went back to work four months later because it was the one thing I could control, but after five months hit rock bottom. I felt lost, fed up of not being able to do what I wanted and becoming a living risk assessment. At those darkest moments I have to admit I sometimes wished I hadn’t survived."

Time to heal

“Life was so hard. But after counselling and time to heal things started to get better. My walking has improved, I can walk unaided indoors and use crutches when out. I am back to work and can honestly say am getting used to my new normal and loving life."

“My one piece of advice to anyone in the same situation would be to seek counselling. Even when you think you have got this, it really helps. I had no signs or symptoms that I was ill. It came on so suddenly and so aggressively. Now whenever I get the chance I try and promote knowledge of meningitis. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.”

Read more about how Meningitis Now can support you here.

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