Michaela Harmes, 21, from Fife (left in photo),contracted the disease in June 2015 while working in Zante but has thankfully recovered well. She undertook the skydive with friends Kerin Marshall, Nicolle Peat and Lana Owen, all 20, to raise funds for us.
“Meningitis Now has given me fantastic support and counselling”, Michaela said. ”Without the charity I'm not sure that I would be where I am right now. I'm in my 2nd year at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, halfway through my degree to becoming a midwife - I am such a lucky girl.”
The four girls took to the sky and jumped out of a plane at 10,000ft. They all found the experience ‘amazing’. Their efforts have raised a whopping £2,111 for our lifesaving and life-changing work, carrying out research into the deadly disease, raising awareness and supporting those fighting back. Lana chose to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity.
In June 2015, Michaela set off for what she thought would be the summer of a lifetime working in Zante. After a night working and clubbing she got to bed at around 6:30am. “I woke up at 3pm and my whole body was in agony from head to toe, the pain was even in my fingers and toes”, Michaela said.
Awful headache and couldn’t move
“I had an awful headache and I couldn't even move. I knew that this could not be a hangover. Five hours passed and I wasn't feeling any better. I phoned a medical centre - the language barrier made it difficult to explain how I was feeling and where I was. Luckily two medical staff came out to see me later that night.”
Michaela’s blood pressure was through the roof and as she tried to get up she fainted. The medical staff had to carry her downstairs.
“At the medical centre, all I can remember was that they put me on a drip and I was dipping in and out of consciousness, occasionally waking up to hear the music from the clubs on the strip.”
At 3am she was taken home and told to take paracetamol, drink plenty of water and given food to eat.
Being a drama queen saved my life!
“At 5am I woke up still in incredible pain and I knew something wasn't right. Thankfully I am a drama queen and it saved my life! I phoned the medical centre back and was adamant that I needed to go to hospital.”
The medical staff came back out and took Michaela to hospital.
“I began vomiting and couldn't stay awake”, Michaela added. “I remember them inserting a needle into my back but not having a clue what was going on - in fact they were doing a lumbar puncture. At this point I couldn't cope, I kept saying that I couldn't do it, I was in too much pain. I even asked them if they could put me to sleep.”
Family helped her cope
Michaela was transferred from Zante to mainland Greece as they could not treat her on the island and her dad and mum and her partner flew out and joined her by her bedside.
“Without my family by my side I don't know how I would have coped”, she said.
“At the time I did not realise how ill I was. It was such a traumatising experience but I am an extremely lucky girl to be here to tell my story. If it wasn't for my stubborn, drama queen attitude I probably would not have survived. I am ever so thankful for all the staff that helped me and of course my family who are amazing for putting up with me and being with me every step of the way.”