Life After Meningitis

I was rushed into hospital with meningitis on November 5th 1965. It was a crazy time for my parents, especially for my mum, who had already lost another child, my sister, through a congenital heart problem. She told me afterwards how desperately she prayed for me on the 35 min journey to hospital. She talked to me non stop to try and keep me conscious. It was so annoying because all I wanted to do was drift away from the pain in my head. I was in hospital until just before Christmas and 5 lumbar punctures and lots of injections later I was discharged. I had to learn to walk again because my weight loss and muscle wastage meant I was too weak. It took quite a while to regain my strength, but I did and eventually I took up football, rugby and cross country running. The headaches that I got were very debilitating to start with and could cause me to black out. Not a good idea when you are on an intercity train!! However, they stopped after about 4/5 years and life became normal again. I have not looked back going on to be part of a team that won the county cross country championship. I have run a half marathon, worked as a professional musician, been a head teacher and now regularly do Park Runs and take part in triathlons. I even got to swim across the River Humber for charity about 18 months ago. I have a fantastic loving wife, 4 great children and 5 grand children. I have tried to grasp life with both hands having been given a second chance as it were. I would want to encourage all of you both parents and patients to look forward and see that the future can bring so many wonderful and unexpected things. From learning to walk again to running a half marathon, from being too weak to swim to swimming 2.7 miles across one of the most challenging river crossings. There is life after meningitis!!!

12 Replies

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  • Thank you Viola for sharing your story with us. You have achieved and done amazing things since you contracted meningitis in 1965. Very inspiring and definately a positive encouragement that their can be 'life after meningitis'!

  • Thank you for your wonderful post. It is so very hard for those of us going through year after year of pain following meningitis. You are right - we are lucky to be alive, but some days when the pain just goes on and on and on ripping through my head, I feel desperate for the time to come when the pain leaves me. It is so wonderful to hear from someone who's suffered as I am and has come through it. Thank you very much.

  • Thank you for this! I am going to read this to my dad tomorrow. He contracted bacterial meningitis in October of 2015 and still can't walk. He is improving but lost all his muscle and is still struggling to regain strength.

  • Thanks emm, Glad your dad is improving. It is a gradual process and he will have good and bad days. He will need lots of love and encouragement. My mum was naturally very protective initially, but was wise enough to give me space and encouragement to find my own way forward too. Friends, laughter and normality all helped. Something as little as wanting to get across the ward to chat to another patient by myself all helped. Do get him out and about too and send him my best wishes. Reassure him that he will recover his strength. Set really small, short term achievable goals and celebrate his successes.

  • Thank you for such a positive post.

  • You are more than welcome. Glad it has encouraged you.

  • Hola viola78, I am glad you got improved very good, I like the motivation, how old were you when you got meningitis? I got meningitis 4 years ago I was 43/44 and still improving, every time I extra exercise I get headache, so I can't really exercises just stretch, I jump twice a day if I do one more head ache, I do two pull ups if I do one more head ache. Those are some examples of my limitations, I hope I get still better.

    Greetings from NY.

  • Hi Menin, I was 8 when I got meningitis. I am glad you are still improving. Keeping going while you have pain is really hard. Are you still having regular checks. I was back and forth to the hospital for all the time my headaches continued. They kept doing EEG tests trying to find out what was triggering the head aches. I couldn't eat certain foods like chocolate or ice cream or too much cheese. My mum was a huge inspiration to me. She had TB as a child and a very tough childhood overall. She had a steely determination and a huge well of optimism. She wouldn't let me give up on things and through gentle encouragement, love and care she pulled me through. I hope you have somebody there for you. Do keep going back for medical checks and help when you need it. Do what you can, when you can and but be gentle with yourself when you can't because tomorrow you will succeed.

  • Hello Viola, yes I am going once a month to the hospital, I went in total to 9 different neurologists all of them made me EEG, I had 1 MRI per year, but they didn't find anything, I live but myself now, but when I got the meningitis my mother came from Peru to take care of me, I was in wheelchair. My brain wasn't working properly, etc.. I am better, I know and I feel I am going still to recover, I see the light in the end of the tunnel. I was crying like a baby almost everyday, the good thing, in my job my bosses told me, it was not your fault, your job is going to be to recover, so I was at home 2 long years doing nothing, like handy cap. Because my mother and sister were doing everything, I was getting worst, so I decided to start doing things by myself. Now I am back in my job, because I am still weak they keep me in the office, probably next year I will be already retired. Thanks for your words Viola. We are lucky we are still alive.

  • Dear Menin I am so pleased to hear about your positive attitude and so pleased that your bosses were so supportive. It is great to hear that you are back at work. We are indeed lucky to be alive!!

  • Wow great to hear a story with such a positive outcome ☺

  • Hi Coconut 22, Just glad to be an encouragement. I have only recently started to reflect on that period of my life and came across the website. What is your story?

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