Hi. I contracted Bacterial Meningitis in May 2011. I was admitted to hospital unconscious and have no memory of the day and my memory has been totally wiped for at least 5 months before (retrograde amnesia). I spent 3 weeks unconscious and ventolated and when I came out of the coma I had post traumatic amnesia. I then spent a further 3 weeks on High Dependency wards and when I eventually was discharged I was extremely weak and unbalanced and therefore supplied with numerous aids. I am a single parent of a gorgeous son age 6 yrs. He has been hugely traumatised by his fear that I would die and leave him and what he went through while I was ill. He was not allowed to see me for the 3 weeks I was unconscious because I was the only one with Parental Responsibility to give that permission. One day I just didn't turn up at school to pick him up and as he was not allowed to visit me he didn't really know for sure where I was and if I had just gone off and left him! He was looked after by various people including being taken into Foster Care. The reality is I am 'lucky' (I hate that word) to be here as I suffered a severe brain injury and everyone was told it was most likely I would die. My frontal lobes have been significantly damaged and although my general intellect is intact I now struggle with balance problems, memory loss, difficulty understanding and processing information, being an emotional wreck, prone to depression, getting angry more easily, most likely epileptic (I am on anticonvulsants), have a sensitivity to noise, some hearing loss and deterioration in my vision etc etc. Because I now look OK on the outside everyone expects me to be back to my old self but the invisible damage to my brain means that this is far from the reality of how I am and the struggles I now have managing day to day life with my son. How can my son understand how and why I have changed, if the adults don't get it that I am not the same person or mum anymore. I feel immensly guilty about what my son went through and that I can't do all the things with him that I used too. I have had to piece together what happened by accounts from other people. I understand that I had gone to pick a foster child up from a school at 3 p.m. and because I was being sick I was in the staff loo. The school staff did not realise I was seriously ill, far from compus mentus or that I was experiencing all the typical symtoms of meningitis eg severe headache, not being able to tolerate lights, being confused etc. Fortunately another parent/friend who I had apparently contacted to collect my son from his school (as I was not going to get there in time because I was being sick) became concerned when she had not heard from me by 6p.m. She and her husband came to the school (which had nothing to do with them or our children) and immediately realised I was seriously ill and suspected meningitis. The school had not called an ambulance because they said I didn't want one - how long were they going to leave me in the staff loo??!! The school staff did not realise I was not able to make appropriate decision about needing an ambulance. My friends called the ambulance. By the time I got to the hospital I was comatosed with a GSC of 5 which then dropped further. I currently still suffer with residual effects. It is this month, a year on, and I do not know what the future will be for me and my son. I have always worked but at the moment have not been able to return to my job which frustrates me enormosly - that something I didn't cause myself has completely turned life upside down. Becasue it is my frontal lobes that are damaged and I can still walk, manage my own personal care (and my sons) etc I also seem to fall into a benefits gap as most are measured on severe physical disability!
Currently I am extemely anxioius about Sunday 27th May, the day my life was turned upside down and is no longer the same. I am not sure how to manage the day and would probably prefer to dissosociate and curl up in bed but I can't because it is a no school day and I will have to look after and if possible entertain my son. I also worry that on that day even if I try to focus on the positives e.g I survived (but the double edged sword is I'm brain damaged)!, I will most likely be prone to being tearful and easily becoming inappropriately cross. I seem stuck with feeling upset, angry and guilty about what happened to my life and the effect on my son and struggle to move on.