Meningitis Now staff member Andy Hopkinson

Matthew shares his experience of life after bacterial meningitis

Andy Hopkinson | 13th December 2020

In October last year Matthew, from Stourport-On-Severn in Worcestershire, spent his 21st birthday in a coma with bacterial meningitis

Matthew Griffin shares experience of life after meningitis

Here he records how his recovery is going and shares his advice, to never give up.

“After spending two weeks in hospital I couldn’t wait to leave, to be outside again in the fresh air and I remember the journey home in the car with my parents and just listening to music and us laughing and joking with each other.

“My mum and dad told me I had to rest - much to my dismay, being an outgoing person - and I spent several weeks trying to regain my strength and put back on all the weight I’d lost. I felt frustrated isolating and not being able to do what I used to, like walking the dogs or going out on my bike.

“I was determined to get back on my feet and carry on with life but little did I know that as soon as things were looking up - the Covid-19 pandemic was waiting around the corner and it would put my life and many other meningitis survivors' lives on hold once again.

Tough when people ask

“It’s tough when people ask, "So what are you doing now?" or "Are you still at uni?" "Time is ticking, are you still at home doing nothing?" Sometimes it feels like life is going by and I’m still in the same place. I’m in a state of limbo, looking for an apprenticeship and a job in the meantime to tide me over until I get something sorted.

“I hear some of the incredible stories of defiant young people who have suffered some of the more serious after-effects caused by this deadly disease, and I thank my lucky stars I’m still here.

“What can sometimes be frustrating is when people say things like, "You realise how lucky you are? You could have gone blind or lost limbs" or, "You’re lucky it didn’t affect you too badly" and, "Oh well, everyone is in the same boat as you."

Aware I am one lucky individual

“I am fully aware I am one very lucky individual and it’s thanks to the NHS that I’m alive but no matter how badly you’ve been affected in the long term, it’s still relevant and you are allowed to not be okay. I suppose what’s hard is when people don’t see what you’ve been through, the social and economic struggles, having weeks off uni and ultimately leaving because I had missed so much.

“To anyone recovering from meningitis, don’t give up. It’s okay to fail at something but never give up. Don’t measure your progress by other people’s lives and say to yourself you have to reach these milestones by a set date or it’s too late. Some days will be good and some will be bad and you know what, that is okay. Some days I’m really motivated and others not so much, I feel useless but I remember it’s not my fault and you shouldn’t be hard on yourself.

Doing a lot more now

“I’m doing a lot more now, illustrating, writing, photography and exercising and I’m glad I can enjoy different activities again.

“So, I’d say to anyone who has gone through meningitis, no matter how you’ve been affected because we’ve all been affected in different ways, you matter, your story matters, what you’re going through right now matters and you aren’t alone. Don’t feel guilty about talking about your experience because it’s been traumatic and talking helps. The support of friends and family and the team at Meningitis Now will get you through it.

“There are no set goalposts of where you should be. Only you decide that. You will get there one day as long as you keep one foot in front of the other and just don’t give up, because you are important and you will be successful. It may take a little longer but the pain you are going through will be worth it in the end.”

Read Matthew’s meningitis story.

Meningitis Now Helpline staff

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