Meningitis knows no one.


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Meningitis is a life threatening illness that affects both children and adults but we do not get to hear about it as often as we should. In fact,  the closest I have ever come to the knowledge of this disease was doing a ‘glass’ skin check on my children each time they came out in spots/rash and then frantically rushed down to my doctor for reassurance. That was long ago, before I became a nurse.

However, I got a real shock when I provided nursing care for  a forty-eight year old family man. It was a post-operative wound care as he recently got discharged from the hospital with limb amputation. The limb amputation was a direct result of Meningitis.
As I dressed his wound and chatted to him at the same time, I quizzed him about the symptoms he presented with and how long it took before it progressed. He then narrated to me how he had felt absolutely normal in the morning and later in the day began to experience what he described as a flu-like symptoms; Sore throat headaches, aches and pains all over his body and nausea. His spots symptoms came later on and looked like bruises on his hips and torso.

Still the alarm bells did not ring. His symptoms were not typically of meningitis, thus causing delay in rapid response to treatment. The penny finally dropped as the patient collapsed and his family called the emergency team. By the time active treatment had started the damage had been done resulting in the loss of his feet and hands. On the bright side, he was lucky to still be alive today.
I felt terrible  for this man and at the same time admired his courage.  He is now locally campaigning for more awareness on Meningitis and Septicaemia. Ensuring that there are leaflets at every GP surgery, available for everyone to read. He also hold talks where he tells his story and empower others.

I must point out that prior to his illness, he had no knowledge of Meningitis. He is not alone on this as many people have little or no knowledge of a life threatening disease such as Meningitis. I have done a bit of digging around and I found some information about Meningitis and Septicaemia.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and Spinal cord. It is a very dangerous disease and can kill with hours. Whilst there are different organism that can cause Meningitis, the most common are viruses and bacteria.

Viral meningitis is not always life threatening but can make one very ill with after effects such as memory loss, lethargic and headaches.

Bacterial Meniningitis is the one to watch, it can kill sufferers and therefore urgent treatment is needed. If survived, after effects may be deafness, epilepsy and brain damage.

Meningococcal and septicaemia– Meningococcal bacteria can cause blood poisoning.

Signs and symptoms.

Although the development of meningitis and septicaemia can easily be confused with other infection, early signs are ; Fever, headaches, nausea and muscular pains. Spots may appear sooner, later or not all.

Act upon it!

I cannot stress enough the importance of rapid response and urgent treatment in this case. Get medical help straight away and do not wait for spots to appear before acting. In a case where rash/spots have already appeared, keep monitoring progress and make sure you have called for help.

Do not worry about false alarm, it is better than putting your life at risk by sitting at home and waiting for the worse to happen. GET HELP FAST!

Thanks for reading and for further information, check out www.meningitis-trust.org

Jane xx

photo credit: Nathan

6 Replies to “Meningitis knows no one.”

  1. Thank you Jane for this post! I didn’t know all this facts about meningitis and this scares me but it’s better to know than ignore. Thank you!

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  2. The closest I came to meningitis was as a sports mad teenager. I had boxed on a Friday night in an amateur fight; run in a national cross country race on Saturday; played football on Sunday morning and on Monday was back into the gym with boxing training. As I walked home I felt pain in my legs and a numbness which made walking difficult.
    At home the condition worsened so that I was laid on the sofa and a GP called. I was loosing all feeling in my legs.
    The GP came and immediately called for an ambulance to take me to hospital. I was told nothing and can’t remember seeing any spots on my body.
    In hospital I was immediately given a lumber puncture, what an experience that was, and for the next week received at least five injections a day.The support I received from the staff must have been good because I remember not being particularly worried about my condition. In fact, thanks to reading Spike Milligan’s book “Puckoon” I spent most of the week laughing, and looking back I think that not believing anything bad could happen to me helped.
    In the end I was diagnosed as suffering “viral meningitis.” But I agree that if my parents hadn’t acted so quickly and, more importantly, the GP agreed first to come out at night and then to make an immediate decision the outcome would have been very different.

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    1. Thank you so much Ernie for sharing your experience. I am very glad that you got through it and i believe the quick response to treating your menningitis helped a great deal too. Some people don’t present with rash/spots at all or sometimes they show much later into the progression. It’s so scary.

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  3. Some years ago I wrote a newspaper article about meningoccal meningitis because a public health doctor told me that it ran in seven year cycles and the upcoming summer would bring a peak in infections. I was most impressed by the fact that an eleven year old boy had cycled to a clinic to tell the staff that he thought he had meningitis. He was right, put on antibiotics immediately, before the test results were received and suffered no ill effects. This is a tribute to the health and education authorities and their campaign of information at schools.

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  4. Thank you so much for your comment. Wow! I am most impressed with that 11 year old school boy. I guess with more awareness and education, people would be able to spot signs and symptoms promptly.

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