Im contracted Viral Meningitus in July 2011. Im 40 aand have two young kids, I was fairly active and felt totally fine, then after a night out ( drank 3 glasses of wine ) I woke up with what i can only describe as the worst headache of my life, at first I thought I must have drank bad wine but soon after I started to vomit, the pain was so bad I didnt want to move and just layed still, the light hurt my eye and I was shaking with coldness although I had a temperature. After numerous calls to NHS direct by my husband, we where told to get to A and E, I was given some pain killers when I arrived and we waited 5 hours, I cant remember much about the wait as I felt totally out of it, we saw a doctor who said he was 95% sure it was nothing but theres a small chance it could be meningitus so they can do a lumbar puncture but that can be nasty and I would be in hospital for a week. He made me feel like I was wasting his time and part of me wanted to believe I would be fine in the morning and ready to go back to work in a couple of days...so we went home, I just wanted to get back to laying still again. I saw the GP the next day who diagnosed it as Viral Meningitus. My biggest regret was not having the lumbar puncture as for weeks and months I was convinced I had something else wrong with me as my doctor told me id be ok after a few weeks. I spent about a month in bed, for about three months I had pain mosts days, in my head, neck and spine I was fatigued, depressed, had terrible nightmares, panic attacks, I couldn't finish sentences sometimes ( memory loss ) or concentrate, my joints ached. I had sensitivity to heat and light and high noise levels where intolerable ( hard to avoid with young kids ).
Luckily I discovered the Meningitus Trust early on in my journey and they have been the best support for me. At times I thought I was going nuts with a lot of negative thoughts in my head, Id never experienced an illness before longer than a few days so weeks and months went by and I found that really hard to deal with especially as I was such an active person beforehand with a busy life working full time with a young family. I learnt that the recovery would consist of days feeling almost normal and the bad days covering all the above symptons. This was hard to deal with emotionally as after a few good days I thought I was getting better than bang Id be on a bad stretch again. The Meningitus Trust have always offered a friendly voice at the end of the phone through there support line, I called them when I was at my lowest and they really helped me, I will always be thankful to them for that, I also met another sufferer through the one and one service and talking to someone who had been through it all was the best help.
I have since had a CT scan and seen a neuroligist ( I had to wait 4 months for the appointment ) she wasnt very helpful and said there isnt after effects from Meningitus which really upset me as I know thats not true, Im currently waiting for an MRI as I still suffer with awful headaches and extreme tiredness as well as Imsonia and feel a dull ache in my head most days.
Ive tryed numerous alternative therapies ( I had some covered on medical insurance ) Cranial Osteo ( This gave me pain afterwards but I think has played a part on my good periods being longer ), Acupunture ( This helped my energy levels the most ), Massages. ( This has helped my sleep and tension and pain in the neck )
Six months later the good days are now outweighing the bad days, Ive learnt to accept that it will take time and I cant control or fight the recovery. I now meditate every day as it helps me calm down and focus on one day at a time. I have 'wobbles' where its all just too much and I feel really down but when I look back Im definately dealing with it all a lot better. I keep notes on how my weeeks are so I can see how they are improving and see if theres any patterns to help manage the after effects. I cant drink alcohol of caffeine anymore as this gives me an instant headache.
I found walking or a light cycle ride really helped me cope with the depression and anxiety but Id often need to rest all afternoon afterwards I started to do this after about 3 months and have built it up to longer walks now.
Im about to go back to work next month.
I realize I am lucky compared to some, the best advice I got was just focus on one day at a time and listen to what your body is telling you, dont feel guilty if you have to rest..as rest is king especially in the early days.
Having Meningitus has taught me to appreciate life a lot more, Ive had precious time with my family and feel we are a lot closer because of it, Ive met people in my village where before I was too busy commuting to get to know anyone I was working too hard before and hopefully will work out a better balanced life as a result of getting it !