In a bid to get family man Oliver Marsland back on his feet, Meningitis Now has funded gym membership for him and his family. The membership will give Oliver, 36, back some of the privileges as a father meningitis has taken from him.
Oliver said: “I have two young children and meningitis has robbed them of a big part of their childhood with their dad. They have experienced almost half their lives with daddy being ill. That, and the pressure on my wife, is the most galling part of this whole experience.”
Oliver has two children - Caitlin aged eight and Blake aged six.
He continued: “I’ve always wanted to teach my children how to swim and this means they are finally getting swimming lessons. Three years ago we didn’t know that I would still be ill three years on, so we didn’t plan for the kids learning to swim elsewhere. As a result, they missed out.”
Oliver first contracted viral meningitis in 2009 and recovered well but after contracting the disease again in July 2012, “things have been a lot worse”.
“I couldn't remember a conversation 30 seconds after having it or work out simple tasks, let alone comprehend any complex situations. Light and sound affected me very badly. I would lose the ability to hold a conversation, and just shut down."
“Physically, I was a mess. I had no energy and could be driven to collapse easily. I lost my ability to balance, and I felt like I was in a bubble the entire time."
“I found my heart racing whenever I stood up and was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) as a complication of meningitis. I’m on medication which helps control this, but not completely."
“There are many other symptoms which have slowly improved since 2012 but my life before the illness is a distant memory and I am still unable to return to my job."
“Now that I can do a small amount of exercise each week, I’m determined to make it my priority. The gym membership for my family means my wife and kids can share in that priority and we can spend time together that is about getting fit and healthy, and isn’t limited by my being ill."
“We are all incredibly grateful to Meningitis Now. When everything seems to have fallen apart finding that kind of meaningful support makes an enormous difference.”
Meningitis Now has funded the award to help aid Oliver’s recovery both physically and emotionally.
“Family care and support plays a huge part in someone getting back on their feet after contracting meningitis. We hope this will give Oliver some positive, quality time to spend with his family and help him on his road to recovery.”
Susanne Malcolm, Support Services Manager
Meningitis Now awards more than £250,000 every year to those affected by meningitis. Grants help to reduce the financial pressures faced following the disease. Funding helps families with a variety of needs, such as specialist equipment, therapy, travel and accommodation for hospital visits, training, funeral and headstone expenses, and rehabilitation.