Recently had VM and feeling a little strange about staying off work-reassurance needed

Hi everyone here's a little bit about me, looking for some reassurance really. On Monday 1st Feb 2016 I was rushed into hospital after having a week of headaches that gradually got worse then turned very strong and progressed to having stiff neck, fever and vomitting. I was diagnosed with vital meningitis and had 8 days in hospital. I also suffered with post lumbar puncture headaches (2 days after the lumbar puncture) by day 4 I had to go to theatre and have an epidural blood patch. Anyway tomorrow will be 2 weeks since being out of hospital and I have one week left off work on my fit to work note, however I'm feeling really anxious about going to the doctor if I need more time off. my after effects at the moment are mainly the tiredness and low energy levels. I have really been taking it easy as much as possible as my husband has been able to take carers leave meaning he's home to help with our 3 young children. I did try to do a little food shop with my husband but the bright lights noise etc made me feel really dizzy. I suppose I'm just looking for people in a similar situation reassuring me that it's ok to take time off and recover as I feel under pressure to go back(not from anyone in particular just my own conscience) Like many I never in a million years thought meningitis would effect my family and thanks to the information on meningitis now it's making my recovery a lot easier. Thank you for reading :)

18 Replies

  • Hi. Your bout of VM has been serious requiring 8 days in hospital. VM is not like the flu that you can recover from more quickly and it will take more weeks or longer. You do need to go to your GP and get a medical certificate to give you more topi me off work. Explain just as you have done in your post the symptoms you are still suffering and that you husband has had to take time off work to care for you and look after the children. Your recovery will take longer or you will set yourself back if you don't allow yourself time to rest and recover. Yes you are so right about how meningitis has an impact in the whole family. Don't pressure yourself - take more time off. Ring the Meningitis Now helpline for advice, info and support. They are great. You can talk through all your concerns especially relating to feeling you should be over the VM and back at work.

    Best wishes

  • Thank you very much for your reply. I really appreciate it :) just a little bit of reassurance goes a long way

  • Hi, your post this evening sums up how I am feeling right now. I left hospital 4 weeks ago and have rested as much as possible since. My sick note finishes tomorrow and I am worrying about returning to work. I still get very tired and disoriented with aches and pains especially if I do too much. ( like pushing the trolley round the supermarket I had to sit down after 30mins I couldn't manage with everything around me) work are great and not putting me under pressure I think I am doing that myself. I almost think if I go back to work I will believe I'm getting better. The recovery seems so slow and almost 2 steps forward 1 step back. I find myself getting very emotional for no reason. I go to sleep feeling as thought I've been drinking and wake up the same way. I haven't had a drink since before meningitis. I suppose I am looking for answers that are not really there but does anyone have averages of how long the recovery takes?

    Thank you

  • That's how I feel in a morning like I've had a drink it's so frustrating because I really want to let me husband have a lie in (silly little things) because he's been so supportive but he's getting tired too. Even if one of the children wake in the night for the toilet I've tried to get up but I have to sit down whilst waiting where as before I would just get up sort them them back to bed no worries. It's the little things that seem to effect me the most. Good luck with the rest of your recovery :)

  • I took 3months off work , even when I returned to work I still wasn't myself . It was very unlike me to have anytime off work before VM . If you return to work to soon you will be back we're you started .Listen to your body you . Have you still got the headaches?

  • Not really no I suffered really bad in hospital with them but after the epidural blood patch they disappear :)

  • You are very lucky I had mine for months , also about 3 months ago I had another period when they retuned for 3weeks that was 2 years after I first had VM .

  • I don't think I could cope with headaches too. I still have a stiff/sore/tense neck and I've been making sure I drink plenty of water everyday too so I don't get dehydrated and then get a headache.

  • Sorry away on holiday ! Just since your reply ! Thank goodness you don't have headaches ! Everyone on here has a different story all you can do is listen to your body and rest when you need too x

  • I took 8 months off before I went back to work and it was only for 2 hours a week I've been back at work 6 months now and can still only manage 6 hours a day twice a week and it physically drains me headaches return, disorientation etc. It's been 16 months post meningitis now and I'm still not back to normal. Please don't rush things or pressure yourself, I live with the guilt of being ill everyday and believe this is why my recovery is taking so long because I can not except my body is still recovering! X

  • I am two years post vm and I felt almost the same. The only thing I can say is believe me it does get better ! I have been left with balance issues quite funny to my friends but I am learning to live with it. I still find tiredness an issue but again have adapted my life. This time next year things will be different I promise, you will feel better but it's early days. Listen to your body. Good luck

  • So sorry to hear how unwell you've been, it sounds like you've had a truly horrible experience over the past few weeks. I had VM in October 2015 and am only just considering returning to work now. I've been left with a number of after effects, primarily fatigue so despite trying to go back in January, my body simply wasn't ready. I found this a huge setback which took me a while to accept. I can't underline enough how important it is to rest and really take the time to get well-don't rush it! I've sought to gradually build up doing every day things again and recognise what triggers my fatigue (noise and crowds of people) so I can steadily increase my tolerance. VM has affected me much more than I expected but I'm making progress slowly! Really hope you are feeling better soon and able to have lots of time to get well. Ultimately I'd say don't give a second thought to work, as a friend said to me, your health is far more important! I've tried to hold on to this - it eases some of my guilt!

  • Hi Mrs_greenall, I want echo what has been said by other replies. You wouldn't feel guilty if you had a broken leg would you? VM is more serious than that. I had BM when I was 8 and it took a long time to recover. I had the tiredness, sensitivity to noise and bright lights and dizziness which are all signs that you are still very much in the recovery phase and need more time off. It is very tough when you have little ones too so don't be afraid to ask for help in that area. There are a number of charities that are set up to help families in your situation. You can contact the charities commission and find out what help is available in your area. When I lived in London and my wife was very poorly we were helped by a group called Families in crisis. They sent someone in to take the children out, help with household things and create the space and time for her to begin her recovery properly. It was organised through the doctors and social services. So my advice is very strongly take all the time you need to recover properly because this is what is best for you and your little ones: don't be afraid to ask to for help, that's why these groups are there in the first place and last be gentle with yourself, it is still early days.

  • Hi, I was taken into hospital with very similar symptoms and, following a LP and a 5 day stay in hospital, was diagnosed (initially with bacterial meningitis) then confirmed viral meningitis caused by a HSV virus. This was 10th Jan 2016. I can completely relate and sympathise with your symptoms. Ive found the fatigue, particularly mental fatigue the most difficult, and just like many of us, the dizzy feeling as though I've had a couple of glasses of wine really disorientating. I believe that everyone's rate of recovery can really vary. In hopes to shed some positivity, I returned to work, very nervously, three and a half weeks after discharge from hospital. I won't lie as the first day back was pretty awful. I froze and couldn't recall a lot of information ( log in codes etc) to which I would normally do as second nature. I didn't really remember driving back home after and spent the evening in tears feeling completely unable to cope. I did however return the next day and gradually, (now 3rd week back) things are feeling much better. I am very lucky as my employer has allowed me to return on a gradual basis, part time hours over a period of time. I don't know what your situation is regarding hours on your return? I still do feel mentally fatigued, a bit forgetful, headaches etc, but it's been really positive to be able to focus on something and to begin to feel 'normal' again. By no means would I say what was right for me, would be right for the next person. Each individual's recovery is different so you must listen to your own body. If you don't feel ready to return, I'm sure your GP will sign you off for longer. Be really kind to yourself, ditch as much stress as you can, eat and rest well.

    Wish you all the very best in your recovery.

  • Mrs Greenall, take your illness very serious. If you push yourself, you are heading for a reoccurrence . I'm speaking from experience . I'm 2.5 yrs post VM . I'm a workaholic , I just had another outbreak (much worse this time). Hospitalized again. I will now slow down & listen to my body. I still experience fatigue, light & noise sensitivity , memory issues . My immune system very compromised. I eat very healthy, do yoga, & try to rest as much as possible . That really helps! So do not rush back to work , take time & be good to yourself! Will keep you in my prayers!!


  • Thank you everyone for your replies it's reassuring to hear all the comments. I appreciate you taking time to reply

  • I'm going on 1 year post viral meningitis. I am still not able to work full-time. My neurologist has me working 4-6 hours . He said that I need to let my brain heal. When I work or just do too much I get anxious, dizzy. Don't feel guilty, you have a brain injury & it will take time to heal. This is a life changing illness be good to yourself.

  • All of the above!! Interesting about the lights. I could not walk around our local Tesco for a couple of months. I was off work for two months but that was not enough. I should have had between six and twelve. It took three years till I felt 'me' and even now suffer with tiredness and a little depression. But as mu Mum says you are alive! You can see my progression here

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