Thirty-six-year-old Leo Standing, of Ponsanooth, was struck down with viral meningitis five years ago and still suffers from the after-effects of the disease.
But now she feels as recovered as she’ll ever be, the mum of two is getting in shape to take on the challenge of next year’s London Marathon in April for us.
Leo became ill with flu-like symptoms, an unbearable headache, fever, vomiting and sensitivity to light in November 2012. At first she refused to go to hospital but was convinced by her husband, Jim.
“A team of doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital immediately worked on me, suspecting I had meningitis. I was given antiviral and anti-bacterial meds intravenously immediately, had a lumbar puncture and was rushed for a CT scan,” she said.
“I was incoherent and then drifted in and out of consciousness for three days. When I eventually regained proper consciousness my fantastic doctor confirmed that I had viral meningitis and that with a couple of weeks in hospital they thought I should be okay.”
But the road to recovery was not straightforward and Leo started having problems with her eyes – seeing double every time she opened them.
Damage to optic nerve
“No one realised at this time that the virus had damaged my optic nerve,” she added.
“Over Christmas my eyes started to suffer from rapid movement and spasms so straight after the New Year I was admitted to hospital again for three full days of tests and eight weeks with no reading, TV or phone – not easy!”
Gradually Leo’s eyes healed, but then other long-term effects started to materialise, including headaches, exhaustion, anxiety, loss of ‘intelligence’, shift in personality, confusion and struggling to keep up with normal tasks at work.
Horrible for me, and my family
“These effects have been truly horrible for me, and of course my family too. Over time some are fading, others have become managed,” Leo added. “However, I feel I will never truly be ‘over’ my meningitis.”
Now Leo is keen to raise awareness about the impact of the disease as well as funds to help fight it.
“People just don’t understand the long-term effects of viral meningitis and there needs to be better understanding and awareness. I have already had people, who've had a similar experience, contact me for advice.”
“Doing something so demanding, so powerful as running the marathon, defying meningitis and the damage it caused and turning it into a positive experience feels like great closure on my meningitis experience,” Leo added.
You can support her efforts through her online fundraising page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/leostanding.
Our London Marathon ballot is now closed, but if you would like to be considered for any future places then get in touch and we will contact you if they become available.