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Trust your instincts...by Justine Longford


My daughter came to stay a couple of weeks ago when I had returned from my annual leave. We were celebrating my birthday and that she had finally got a new job having been made redundant back in March.


The following day, she started to feel unwell, we put this down to the rich takeaway we had devoured the night before. It wasn’t food poisoning as we had all eaten the same thing. Then we talked about maybe it was her anxiety of staring a new job.


She made her way home to Bristol and started her new job on the Monday still feeling poorly but again worried that had she called in, they would have considered her a bad employee as it was her first day.


She continued being sick and that Monday evening called me to say she was now getting a migraine. We talked about the fact she was probably dehydrated and needed to drink more and just go to bed. We talked COVID but she had been incredibly careful and had stayed at home and only been to the shops when necessary even post lockdown.


Tuesday My daughter called me at lunchtime to say she was still being sick and had been advised to go home. Sensibly and following her instincts (my advice was paracetamol, water and rest) she had called the doctors as her headache was still really bad and her neck was aching. Again, she is susceptible to migraines so thought nothing more. At 3pm having been to the doctors, she was blue-lighted to Bristol Royal Infirmary with suspected meningitis. This was confirmed the following day post numerous blood tests and lumbar punctures. I felt useless as I wasn't allowed to be with her. Although nearly 30, she is still my baby.


‘Fortunately’ it was viral and two days later she was discharged as they didn’t want her in the hospital being at risk of potentially getting COVID which would have been extremely dangerous given her diagnosis. I was at least able to be with her at her home and look after her. She was a very poorly person. She is on the mend now and thank goodness, she didn’t listen to my advice and followed her instinct.


Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges). It can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children, teenagers and young adults. By the way she doesn’t fit into any of these categories!


Meningitis can be very serious if not treated quickly. It can cause life-threatening blood poisoning (septicaemia) and result in permanent damage to the brain or nerves.


Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:

· a high temperature (fever) of 38C or above

· being sick

· a headache

· a rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it (but a rash will not always develop)

· a stiff neck

· a dislike of bright lights

· drowsiness or unresponsiveness

· seizures (fits)


These symptoms can appear in any order. You do not always get all the symptoms.


You should get medical advice as soon as possible if you're concerned that you could have meningitis. Trust your instincts and do not wait until a rash develops.


Call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E immediately if you think you might be seriously ill. Call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice if you're not sure if it's anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis.


I think we are so wrapped up in COVID and rightly so. My advice would be (and yes I am still feeling like a bad mum) at the moment it can be hard to know what to do if you are unwell. It's important to trust your instincts and get medical help if you need it. The doctors and all the medical staff were fantastic and for them although they are dealing with a pandemic, it is still very much business as usual.


Only my daughter could get meningitis in the middle of a global pandemic!!

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Good to hear your daughter recovered so quickly. Sadly this is not always the case so the more people that are aware of the signs to look for the better. Thank you Justine for sharing this information.

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