Amanda Buckland cannot remember anything from Boxing Day night when she became feverish, started vomiting, and was experiencing severe muscle pain and confusion.
The 35-year-old praised Simon Read and Matthew Laws from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) for their care after her condition rapidly deteriorated. Amanda has been living with Mollaret’s meningitis – a rare recurring viral form of the disease – for more than six years.
She was reunited with Simon and Matthew on 20 February in Norwich to thank them personally after they immediately recognised the seriousness of her condition and rushed her to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on 26 December.
Go that extra mile
She said: “I have never had anyone look up the condition to help me and for them to go that extra mile blew my mind away. My mum and friend told me what happened and it is lovely to know that they care about their job and they went that extra mile to help and they kept checking up on me at hospital. If I had waited I would not be here today to thank them."
Amanda told us: “I began to feel poorly on Christmas Day – I was very tired and sleepy and slept for around four hours after dinner and struggled to get warm. On Boxing Day I slept until lunch and really struggled to wake up normally. I woke with a severe headache and light sensitivity to my eyes and my spine was very painful. I began to get progressively worse so called 111 asking for help. I began to be violently sick and then lost my sight again, struggling with the severe pain and in my spine and to get warm."
Rapidly went downhill
“I called 111 I believe around four times as I very rapidly went downhill. I was losing consciousness and my mum couldn’t keep me awake. My friend called 999 and they told my friend and my mum a paramedic had been dispatched along with an ambulance. By this time I was in cloud cuckoo land and was rambling in and out of consciousness.”
Amanda’s mum Judy added: “On arrival the paramedic said he had no knowledge of Amanda’s condition as it is so rare and he had tried to find out as much as he could before attending so that he would be able to help us. Not long after the ambulance crew arrived and again said they had never heard of Amanda’s condition; the difference being the ambulance chap had been googling everything he could to find out as much as he could about Mollaret’s meningitis so that he could help me to the best of his ability."
“Amanda was talking at this point of seeing a white light and rambling that she was ready to leave as she was tired of fighting. The ambulance guy held her hand - he really was amazing. He kept apologising because he felt he wasn’t able to help her enough as he didn’t know or understand her condition."
Going above and beyond
“What he did do was go above and beyond in supporting Amanda and me. He called the hospital on route and explained all he had learnt about her condition so that they had some form of understanding. He even asked to take her to Addenbrookes Hospital as I had explained Amanda was under their care but quickly realised she was too unwell to make it there.”
Amanda added: “Upon arriving at the hospital we waited in the ambulance for over an hour where again he refused to leave my side. Once I was moved on the bed into the corridor he again stayed with me, reassuring my mum and making sure I was as well as I could be. I was in the corridor for four hours without medical attention apart from the ambulance chap. When he left for his next job he again apologised that he wasn’t able to help me but my mum said ‘you have already gone above and beyond’."
“Once moved to a bed in resuscitation the ambulance crew again stopped by to see how I was getting on and to make sure I was being cared for. I was unconscious for two days and came round on the Thursday. I had no knowledge of what great lengths the ambulance crew had gone to until my mum informed me. As soon as I was home I contacted them and sent a thank you email but also requested to actually meet the guys in person as I’ve never since being diagnosed had anyone go above and beyond to help me."
“To me they are my guardian angels because although they feel they did nothing to help me, they did, they saved my life.”