Feeling Ill - afraid it could be serious


I've been feeling pretty ill for the last two weeks. I'm a 22 year old British student living in Spain, with no serious health problems, and all of a sudden I start to feel cold and confused one night when going to bed, my nerves firing like mad, with tingling in my hands and feet, moving up my arms and legs, a bad headache, pains in my lower back and pains and cramps in my stomach and abdomen. I was passing a lot of clear urine, and drinking lots of water as well. I didn't sleep at all and went to make my appointment at the doctors first thing in the morning. Come the evening, I speak with the doctor who sends me to the hospital for some tests, although he said he didn't think it would be too serious. At the hospital, I had a blood and urine test, and an abdominal X-ray, all of which said I was basically fine, apart from some compacted faeces in my intestine. While I was relieved about this, it still didn't really explain, for me at least, why I had felt the changes in temperature, nerve experiences, confusion etc.

I tried changing my diet, and sure enough, the faeces passed (in fact I had a brief episode of diarrhea), and yet I still feel ill. While I've had ups and downs, the nerve tingling and pains haven't really gone away, and neither has the headache or lower back pain. For about a week now I've had a bad cough and have been coughing up phlegm (perhaps a minor episode of bronchitis, although if so I'm surprised this wasn't picked up by the tests, unless I contracted it afterwards), and yesterday I thought I felt like I was getting better, although I suffered from temperature changes and confusion all through the night (I had a really weird dream that continued even after I got up to drink water and went back to sleep). This morning I felt much, much better, and even went out for a walk and a beer this afternoon (Good Friday is accompanied by a parade here), but again I suddenly felt tired and cold (bearing in mind I live in Spain). I went home and I'm trying to keep warm in my bed now. I have a moderate headache and my eyes feel heavy, although my temperature feels better now. But I'm really afraid I'll just take another bad turn and I won't be able to get help quickly enough. I don't know if I'm being paranoid, but as I live alone I'm frightened that if I get sick I won't be discovered until it's too late. I know it's unlikely I have meningitis, but I know that this can be a very sudden illness and feeling sick can go to life threatening in minutes. Also, most of the websites I have visited suggest that the rash is the best test, but not everyone gets the rash. So although I don't have the rash, I'm not exactly reassured. I would go to the doctor, but the thing is that at the moment I don't feel ill enough to warrant it. The problem is that if I do get worse, I won't be able to find help in time.

Anyway, apologies if this post is inappropriate, but it would be reassuring to hear some advice, especially about the disturbing nerve experiences. I've never felt anything like this before, and now I've been having little pains and tingling almost constantly for about two weeks. Also, is it possible for a serious disease like meningitis to not show up in the tests I had? As I said, I was relieved that the doctor didn't think there was anything wrong, but I am still worried that they could have overlooked something, as a bit of constipation (or even my recent cough, which could be caused by say bronchitis) does not to me seem to explain all of my symptoms.


18 Replies

  • As your ill health has been going on for 2 weeks and from what you describe does not seem to be resolving I would advise you to seek medical advice again. On here we are not able to diagnose as just suffers of meningitis or people who care for someone who has. Meningitis is usually diagnosed by a lumber puncture.

    Best wishes

  • Thanks for the response; of course I understand that people here can't diagnose my illness. I had read that meningitis can often be conclusively diagnosed by lumbar puncture, but my question is more of whether most of the time it can be detected by a blood test or not. I've been feeling a little better since I posted my question, I've just been reading on the internet and drinking lots of water. I can't say I'm looking forward to trying to sleep this evening though. Recently I have been afraid that if I fall asleep whilst ill, if I get worse I won't be awake to either try to make my way to the hospital or call for help, and I might not even notice that I am taking a downturn. Perhaps the community can help me with this: if you are experiencing a sudden onset of meningitis, how aware is the patient of this? On other sites, there is plenty of information on how to tell if a friend or family member is taking a turn for the worst, but much less on how to tell yourself if something is not right - obviously some information on the latter would be helpful for me. Since meningitis can affect the brain and thought processes, I am worried that if I did get worse I might not even realise. Anyway, thank you very much for your response, I wish you all the best.

  • This is a very brief comment which will not be explaining all that can happen. But Bacterial meningitis develops suddenly and can be seriously life threatening within hours. A blood test would not diagnose it but I think would show a septic picture if also have Septiceamia and of the body trying to fight infection. Key symptoms are an excruciating headache, photophobia (unable to tolerate light), confusion and loss of consciousness etc. Treatment with antibiotics is required urgently. Viral meningitis for most is not life threatening but again has severe headaches and symptoms and can often require hospitalisation and anti Virals.

    My suggestion would be to stay with someone so that you are not alone as this is really worrying you, so you have someone else with you to check you are ok and be able to call a Dr should your condition worsen. Again I would advise that you contact a Dr.

  • Hi Lotar, I have had Viral Meningitis twice now, and on both occasions it was the headache that was most unbearable, and debiliating. Not like a normal headache at all. Also Chills, and high temp , have u checked your temp ?? It first started in my lower back with flue like feeling's. I dont feel your problem's are Meningitis related as I had extreme weakness also in my leg's and could not walk. I think you need to be checked again, but with perhap's another GP. There could be many causes for the symptoms you are having, but please get them checked. I am a retired Nurse due to bad health so do have a lot of experience in these area's. Please take care and get Professional help.

    Much love, and best wishes to you. Keep us informed. We do care so much on this site for one another xx

  • Hello, thanks for the response, and your concerns. In the end I decided just to try to relax and get some sleep, I actually started to feel much better. The pain in my neck is not too bad, and the back pain is less, plus my nerves have settled a little, and my temperature feels better now. It was very strange though - within a few minutes of having laid down to sleep, I started to feel too hot with all the extra blankets and returned to a normal temperature and the neck pain just lifted. Although I have now started to notice pains in and behind my ears, so perhaps I'm just having lots of simultaneous infections or something.

    I'm also feeling a little more rational (when I first posted I was afraid, confused and feverous) and I agree if it was meningitis I would probably feel so much worse. The problem is the fear of the disease, as I'm always told about how one needs to be very vigilant against potential meningitis, but of course the popular advice from health services doesn't tell you how bad exactly symptoms must be before meningitis seems like a realistic probability.

    I would say the headache (while unpleasant) is perhaps one of the least painful symptoms I have had recently, although there was a strange incident a few days ago when I was walking through town and was struck by and intense sharp pain deep in my head, for about 15 seconds. I stopped walking for a minute and composed myself, but I haven't felt that since. The back pain was probably the worst so far, but as I said, it feels

    much better this morning. I've not yet been rendered immobile, but when the nerve pains have been at their worst I have only been able to move quite slowly.

    Anyway, my plan for today is to go and make an appointment with the doctor, at least if I don't get worse from what I feel now I think I should be out of emergency territory. Hopefully my most recent symptoms (the coughing up sputum and ear pain) will make the diagnosis easier for them this time. I'll feel so much better when they have given me a proper diagnosis and perhaps some medication. I still can't quite believe that when I was examined two weeks back that the only thing they found to be wrong was the faeces in my intestine, as I've been having one symptom

    after another, and I've felt continuously ill since the onset. I will be very concerned if the arrive at the same conclusion as last time. Anyway, I will report any news, thanks for your concerns.

  • Have you ever had neck or back probs in the past ?? I

  • Not really, apart from the occasional overstretching or general fatigue. The pain in my lower back that I have experienced recently is probably the worst in my lifetime, but it's not an intense pain, more a dull, constant, nagging ache. I was concerned when I went to the hospital a few weeks back that I had a kidney problem (the back pain, and passing lots of clear urine, could suggest this), but of course, all my results came back fine. The doctor specifically said that my kidneys, liver and pancreas all looked fine from the X-ray. So I guess that I should be relieved that my kidneys should be fine, but of course it's still a bit of a mystery as to why I have pain there.

  • Did they do a Urine test ??

  • Yes, they did a urine test when I went to the hospital, again they said everything appeared to be normal and healthy. Strange, isn't it?

  • Keep trying to find the answer. Possibly lyme disease?

  • I was thinking that, although where I live I don't have any access to livestock which could carry ticks. I also haven't been to the countryside in ages (I walked along the coast near my town about a month ago, but the ground here is dry and rocky, so I don't know how good a place it is for ticks to live) and I haven't noticed being bitten by a tick or feeling any kind of rash. I can't say I know all that much about Lyme disease though. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome.

  • Many people have contracting lyme disease without knowing how. Please consider investigating. Blood tests are usually unhelpful. Search the web for some good sites, including the Amen Clinic and the Florida Lyme Disease Association. You know if you aren't well. I urge you to calmly continue your pursuit to find true healing, whatever you current condition may be. All the best.

  • Thanks for your advice and concern, I appreciate it. I will bear Lyme disease in mind. I've been looking over the documents the doctor gave me summarising the blood and urine tests (unfortunately in Catalan, I might have had a better chance of understanding it if it was in Spanish), so perhaps I will find something useful if I work on my language skills and perservere a little. Also, I was going to ask - are there long-term complications associated with Lyme disease? I've been on the UK NHS website and they don't seem to have listed any. If so, I will be less worried about Lyme disease, for as much as I hate being sick, I am prepared to tolerate it if I know I will get better in time (hence my worries over the possibility of meningitis, or other life-threatening diseases).

  • Please review websites from the states that I mentioned. If you felt well a few weeks back, and now you feel terrible, something is up, whether the doctors believe you or not. Some bacterial infections like lyme disease can hide in the body and evade detection. I hope that you will find a doctor who can determine what you have and give you appropriate treatment.

  • My VM came with a headache of 10 (1-10 scale) and could not move my head up or down, left or right due to inflamation in spinal fluid.

    Have you got them to check for diabeties? Nerve tingling could be due to that and fact that it comes and goes could be due to sugar level. just get them to rule it out to be on the safe side.

    Good luck.

  • Thanks for the response. I was initially very suspicious of diabetes (I wouldn't say I am very unhealthy, but I could probably eat and drink less and exercise more, so I wouldn't say I am more at risk of diabetes than the average person), as my initial symptoms seemed concurrent with this. I'm also more paranoid about this as a good friend lost his father after he experienced a sudden, unprecedented episode of diabetes. Although, I would have thought that this would have been detected by the tests (i.e. too much or too little sugar in my blood, excess sugar being flushed out in my urine), but fo course, they said both were fine. Do you know whether blood or urine tests can fail to detect diabetes? I would have thought that it would definitely show up in the blood test, as many diabetic people have pocket blood sugar testing devices, so if they can compact the technology into a small, mass produced device, then I wouldn't think it to be a complicated test. Also, do the symptoms of diabetes after an episode of high or low blood sugar go on for weeks after? I've also been trying to eat a bit better recently (mainly due to the initial diagnosis being put down to constipation), so I've been trying to cut out red meat and fried food in favour of more vegetables. But again, I don't know a lot about diabetes, so I can only speculate. If you have any further advice or information, it would be most appreciated however.

  • And yes, I forgot to mention, when I can get back to the doctor (on Tuesday, due to the Holy Week celebrations) I'll definitely try to get him to investigate the nerve tingling. It's more disturbing than painful, and I wouldn't want to dwell too much on what nerve problems at my age could lead to in later life.

  • So, how have you been since?

You may also like...