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Emma's Story

Emma, Australia

On the 2nd of January 2017, I woke up at around 5am with uncontrollable, whole body convulsions. Although I couldn’t stop shaking, I passed this off as just being cold, put 2 more duvets on me, and went back to sleep. This should have been my first warning sign. A couple of hours later, I woke up with an awful headache and could not move my neck. Then the vomiting and diarrhoea started. I then thought that maybe I had salmonella as I had also cooked myself chicken for dinner the night before, but my family were away on holiday so no one was around to get me to the hospital.

I do not remember a single thing from the rest of that night. The next morning, I woke up and my condition worsened. I couldn’t keep liquids in my stomach, so I begged one of my best friends to get me to the hospital.

After waiting at the hospital for 3 hours, a doctor happened to come across my blood test results while looking for another patient's file. I was put on 3 strong antibiotics, as at this point, the doctors had no idea what I had.

The doctors contacted my mum, who came back from her holiday straight away. When she reached the hospital, she was told that it was a good idea for my dad to also come home to say his goodbyes, as they didn’t think I would make it through the first night.

I was given a spinal tap, which confirmed that I had meningococcal B meningitis. I was in the ICU for 5 nights and a general hospital ward for another 3.

I have made a full recovery. The doctors do not know how I am still alive. My neurologist has told me that the only reason I am still here today is because I didn’t go to sleep once I was at the hospital - if I had gone to sleep, they wouldn’t have been able to revive me. I truly am a miracle, because the devastating reality is, I am not the norm. I am the exception. I waited 30 hours before going to the hospital: meningococcal is known to kill people in less than half that time. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not grateful to still be alive, and I owe everything to my best friend who got me to the hospital and saved my life.

If there is anything that you take home from this story, it’s to please, please learn the signs and symptoms of meningitis and not to ignore them. Early detection and vaccines are so incredibly important.

This story could have so easily have been written by my mum, talking about the 20-year-old daughter she used to have.

To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.

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