Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Helping Michelle to step out again after meningitis

Andy Hopkinson | 27th June 2021

Which of us hasn’t made a pledge during lockdown to try and lose a bit of weight and get fitter? Not so easy though when you’re fighting back from meningitis that has left you with amputation of your toes and extensive scarring

Helping Michelle step out after meningitis

But, thanks to our Rebuilding Futures Fund, Bristol mum Michelle is stepping out again and is feeling fitter both physically and mentally.

Michelle successfully applied through the Health & Wellbeing strand of the Rebuilding Futures Fund for a treadmill to help her exercise and rebuild her confidence.

She told us: “I was already overweight but due to not leaving the house and lack of exercise my weight was going in the wrong direction

Improve mental health

“I believed that if I could fix the issues with my weight it would help with improving my mental health. 

“After I was first ill, I started going to the gym and I found the treadmill a good workout. I am now not in the same frame of mind and feel that I would not stick to going to the gym.

“But having a treadmill at home gives me motivation to exercise, lose weight and try to live again.

“In turn this has improved my self-confidence, pride, motivation and self-worth.

“Just having the treadmill here makes me feel better, knowing that changes are possible and on the way.

Grateful for the help

“Knowing that I am not alone and being supported helps too. I am very grateful for the help given as this is something I would never have been able to fund myself.

“I want to be in a position where I can return to working. I am very interested in doing some sort of support role. I have been helped by others and I have accumulated a lot of knowledge so feel I could be useful to someone else.”

Michelle found the RFF application process straightforward. “I was kept informed every step of the way,” she said, “and the staff were beyond helpful.”

Her application was also supported by her local health service, who said: “Any support to enable Michelle to develop her physical and emotional wellbeing would be greatly beneficial. The ability to exercise from home during this pandemic would have a huge impact on her recovery, physical health and self-esteem.”

Fell ill at work

The 44-year-old started feeling ill at work in May 2013 and thought she was coming down with flu. But her symptoms quickly worsened and, after phoning 999 the next day, she was taken to the hospital where she also worked, where tests showed she had contracted meningococcal septicaemia. She was given just a 25 per cent chance of survival.

Michelle spent four weeks in the Bristol Royal Infirmary, two weeks in an induced coma, before being moved to another hospital in the city, where she spent a further two and a half months. Over this time she lost 20 per cent of the skin on her legs and parts of her toes were also amputated.

Recovering at home she still suffered from painful after-effects. “Meningitis Now were always there to talk to – they checked up on me,” Michelle said. “A lot of things were happening to my body and it was nice to have someone to explain it all to me and for me to have someone to talk to.”

As well as supporting Michelle we were also able to support her daughter Kira through counselling and art therapy. 

“With meningitis there are always long-term effects. People assume it is all over but it is a lifetime battle.

“This was a traumatic time in our lives and without help from this amazing charity I don’t think we would have come through it all so well,” Michelle added.

Such a difference

Meningitis Now’s Helpline and Information Manager Claire Donovan said: “This is exactly the sort of equipment that can make such a difference to those fighting back from meningitis and its devastating after-effects

“We’re so pleased to know that our Rebuilding Futures Fund support for Michelle is giving her the tools she needs and having such a positive impact on her life.”

Claire added: “We know meningitis can have a devastating impact on many aspects of life and affect people’s ability to engage in some of the things most people take for granted.

“That’s where our Rebuilding Futures Fund can make such a difference by providing a practical solution that works, bringing opportunity and reducing stress and anxiety.

“We’re proud to provide this unique, life-changing support – the only meningitis organisation to do so in the UK.” 

Support for people of all ages

Our Rebuilding Futures Fund provides financial, practical and emotional support for people of all ages affected by meningitis.

It comprises four separate areas – Health & Wellbeing; Opportunities; Specialist Equipment; and Bereavement. Each area provides funding towards different types of support, but they are all designed to help people rebuild their futures with hope and confidence.

If you, or someone you know would benefit from the Rebuilding Futures Fund please get in touch by contacting your Regional Support Officer or our Helpline, on 0808 80 10 388 or by emailing