Surviving Meningitis: Jemma’s story
21st April 2016
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Jemma, from Eastleigh in Hampshire, was a 19-year-old student building her future when she was laid low by the Y strain of meningitis. Now, two and a half years later and after the best part of a year in hospital, her future is beginning to look hopeful again. She tells her story here. “I was 19 and in my second year studying law at the University of Leicester. I was attending all my lectures and getting on with day-to-day life. “On Monday 14th October I saw a doctor as my glands were swollen and I felt generally unwell. The doctor took blood to try and identify it as, at that point, she thought it could be mumps and she advised I go home for a week to rest. “So, my mum picked me up that evening and I spent the rest of that week resting. “On the 18th October I started to have a headache but when I woke up on the 19th October it had worsened. I had severe pain in the back of my head and kept being sick. Other symptoms included a stiff neck, photophobia, and I felt faint. “My mum rang 111 and I spoke to a doctor who advised I go to A&E. I was rushed to A&E, still with severe pain in the back of my head and kept drifting in and out of consciousness. Emergency brain surgery “The consultants took the decision it would be safer if I was sedated. I was sent for a CT scan to try and identify the problem. The results showed I had severe swelling in the outer and inner lining of my brain and I was rushed to Southampton General for emergency brain surgery, during which they put a shunt in my brain. “They sent the fluid for testing to try and find the cause and they found I had meningitis strain y and encephalitis. “I was sedated for three weeks while the swelling went down. When I gradually woke up I was very confused and didn’t know or understand what was happening, I was dependent on a ventilator and couldn’t move anything.
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