Meningitis and Septicaemia awarenessampaign 2009 - podcast

Emma’s story - Transcript

My name’s Emma and I contracted meningitis two weeks before my nineteenth birthday.

It was when I was revising for my first year exams that I began to feel unwell.

To begin with I was just dizzy and nauseous.

I then developed a headache, began vomiting and had very stiff and sore joints.

Later my neck became sore and I then developed a rash on my stomach.

Although I was aware of the symptoms of meningitis, I didn’t feel so ill that I needed to seek immediate medical help.

When I started to feel unwell I went to bed, but by the next day I wasn’t feeling any better.

I still had a rash, and light made my eyes hurt and my neck had become so stiff I was unable to touch my chin to my chest.

I was still vomiting and my headache and joint pain continued.

And although I didn’t know what was wrong, I just knew it felt quite serious.

I’m not normally someone to cause a fuss, but I went to the medical centre and by 3 o’clock I had developed a blinding headache a pain like nothing I had known before or since.

I had a stiff neck, my temperature had shot up and I couldn’t stop shaking or being sick.

The doctor at the medical centre called an ambulance as I was beginning to lose consciousness.

I was in a coma for three days relying on the respirator, and was in hospital for a further 10 days - my parents were warned to expect the worst.

I am lucky to have survived but it took a full year before I fully recovered - but even then I still suffered from ill health.

I experienced memory loss, severe headaches and had problems with co-ordination.

My family offered me great support throughout this time and, in the summer of last year I finally graduated with a first class honours degree.

It is really important to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and if you suspect meningitis then trust your instincts and get medical help immediately.

Anyone can catch meningitis but students can be particularly at risk.

So it’s crucial they look after their health and each other when they are away from home.

I am very fortunate to be here to tell my story, because meningitis can progress quickly and can kill.

It can happen to anyone.

More information

If you are worried about yourself or one of your friends, you should contact your GP immediately for advice or call NHS 24 on 111.

For more information about meningitis and septicaemia visit

Remember prompt action can save lives. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Updated 28 July 2014

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