Simon was on holiday with his husband when an earache turned into an ambulance trip to hospital and being put into an induced coma. Simon tells the story of his meningitis diagnosis and his long road to recovery
“In December 2015 we went away for a Christmas break to a holiday cottage in Herefordshire. I had been feeling ill for a few days with flu like symptoms.
“Whilst at the cottage I began to feel worse, my ear started to hurt a lot and I had a sore throat. We went to a local GP who prescribed ear drops for an ear infection.
“Later that day my neck started to ache, which I thought was down to poor pillows on the bed.
“That night, I began to feel sick and got up to make my way to the bathroom. I fell and hit my head on the sink causing a cut to my eyebrow. I went back to bed and lay down.
“I began talking nonsense and was sick. My husband thought I may have concussion from hitting my head. He managed to get me dressed and to the car to take me to Gloucester A & E.
“I was protesting and talking more nonsense. I kept trying to stop the car but eventually we got to the hospital. By this time I was finding it difficult to walk so I was put in a wheelchair and taken into A & E.
“By this time I was very disoriented and had started to do strange things like throw myself off the bed and take off my clothes as I was “too hot”.
“The doctor wanted to do some tests, but I was not cooperating and needed sedating. I was then put into an induced coma. After some initial scans and a lumbar puncture, the doctor suggested it might be meningitis and that they would start treating me with antibiotics.
“I was transferred to Bristol Southmead hospital by blue lights, where further tests confirmed pneumococcal bacterial meningitis.
“My husband was told to get my family to visit as it was possible that I may not pull through.
“Whilst in the coma I had a stroke which disabled the left side of my body and affected my speech, we later discovered.
“I remained in Bristol hospital until early January receiving speech and physio therapies and was then transferred to Southampton, our home city at the time.
“I spent a month receiving support to eat and talk again, and I had treatments to relearn to walk and use my left arm.
“I was lucky to be transferred to Snowden Neuro Rehab hospital in Southampton. They focused on rehab in all areas of my needs. I had a full programme of physio, occupational and speech therapy.
“I also had sessions of neuropsychology to help me understand what had happened to me.
“Before being discharged in February ‘16 I noticed issues with my sight. This was later diagnosed as sight loss to my peripheral vision. I also had hearing loss in my left ear.
“Once back at home I had stroke rehabilitation team visits daily. They continued my physio and occupational therapy. When I could walk and use my arm to some degree, I then had weekly upper limb therapy sessions at a local health centre.
“They got me using my left arm through exercises and manipulation. I was told they had thought I might not get the use of my left arm back, but I did!
“In the spring I began working with Southampton Sensory Services to help me to manage my life with my new vision. This support was to last over two years!
“In June ‘16 I started a phased return to work. I was a nursery teacher running a local authority nursery class. It didn’t work out. I tried this again before the summer break, but again it didn’t work out.
“I was referred to have vocational therapy to see what my capacity for work was. After trying to return to work again on two occasions over the autumn term it was finally obvious that I was not going to be able to work.
“By Sept 2017 I was awarded ill heath retirement from teaching. I am unable to work full or even part time.
“I was lucky that my life was saved and that my new life was made possible by all the rehab teams that worked with me.
“I still live with sight and hearing loss. I suffer with ongoing fatigue and find busy environments can cause me visual overload and stress.
“We moved to Lincolnshire in 2021 and we are living the retired life, doing things we can and getting out and about on holidays.
“I have started a local community coffee morning every few months and volunteer for a few hours a week at the local village school, reading stories with the children, when I’m able.
“Meningitis changed my life. I’ve been lucky enough to survive it. I hope my story helps others.