Emily's Marathon challenge

7th January 2019

Following a succession of mishaps Emily Stringer had to defer her place in last year’s London Marathon. But she’s determined to give it a go this year and prove she’s recovered from meningitis

Emily Stringer London Marathon challenge

Emily, from Nottingham, was 24 when she was struck down with the disease in 2014. It’s taken a while but now she’s determined to prove her health and fitness by taking on the high-profile challenge and raising awareness of the disease and funds to fight it.

“I initially started having the most excruciating headaches – words can't describe how painful they were,” Emily said. “I also started developing a very stiff back and neck, but I'd moved house the week before and just thought I'd been a bit too enthusiastic lifting boxes!"

Incredibly organised

“I'm normally an incredibly organised person so alarm bells should have started ringing when I forgot to turn up to work one day, but I ignored these changes in behaviour, reasoned I'd been under a lot of stress, and went to stay with my parents for a few days."

“On my way to my parents I started feeling drunk, and by the time my mum saw me I couldn't talk. I was trying to tell her how awful I felt but just couldn't, which was one of the scariest parts of my illness.”

Emily’s condition worsened and she started hallucinating. “I was telling my parents I could see my eyes from the outside, I was a yellow snake with black splodges and my cat had swapped my legs with fat ones!”

Meningitis diagnosed

Emily went to see her GP and on to hospital where tests showed she had contracted meningitis.

“Eventually I was discharged from hospital” Emily said, “but I still needed a wheelchair, as I could only walk by myself for short periods of time."

“Now, I don't think you could tell how ill I was. I'm prone to headaches, and sometimes I say the wrong word or mix up letters within a word, which can be quite embarrassing."

“I also have a slight limp because of a spinal lesion, but I'm able to walk, run and rock-climb as much as I like, so it doesn't get in the way of much!"

“I’m determined to prove I’m as healthy and able as anyone else my age.”

Trust your instincts

Emily feels extremely lucky to have pulled through largely unscathed and advises others to trust their instincts when they’re not feeling well. “You know you better than anyone else,” she said, “and if you think something isn't right then it probably isn't.”

“The thought of running 26.2 miles is incredibly daunting” Emily added, “I’m not one of life’s natural athletes!”

“I’m supporting Meningitis Now because during my recovery they provided lots of helpful information during some very dark days. Meningitis isn’t the whole battle and the ongoing disabilities and the psychological aftermath are just as tough – I’ll always be grateful for being told that what I was experiencing was normal."

“Meningitis Now also offers invaluable support to families who have had their lives shattered by a far worse outcome than mine.”

Kirsty Owen-Hayward, Senior Events Fundraiser at Meningitis Now, said, “What a fantastic way to fight back against meningitis and we wish Emily all the best for her London Marathon challenge.”

Want to join Emily? Find out more here.

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