Meningitis is an often poorly-understood condition which can affect anybody. Students, however, are the most at-risk. Often spending time in close quarters: in student halls, at parties and in lecture theatres, students are more susceptible to the highly-transmissible bacteria that cause some strains of meningitis than they realise.
Amy*, a 19-year-old student at RGU, did not know what was wrong when she began to feel unwell. First came aching muscles, then a fever and then vomiting. It was just a bad case of flu, she thought. So, she went to bed to rest.
It got worse. The pain was so bad that she could barely stand. At the emergency room the doctors were unconcerned. They, too, suspected the flu until they noticed something; a mottled, blotchy red and purple rash on her legs. Then everything changed.
“From that point they didn’t know if I was going to make it” remembers Amy*. She had meningitis C, doctors told her.
For two days Amy* drifted in and out of consciousness in hospital, attached to an intravenous drip. “I could not understand what was happening. I was confused and disorientated,” she recalls “and I kept forgetting things”. Doctors told Amy*’s parents to prepare for the worst. They thought they could lose their daughter.
Looking at Amy* now you would not realise she had come so dangerously close to death. Fortunately, she made a full recovery. “I was so lucky” she says. Meningitis can kill within hours if not treated quickly.
Amy* wants other students to know the symptoms of meningitis. Symptoms include, but are not limited to: muscle pain, fever, vomiting, fatigue, neck stiffness, confusion, dizziness, irritability, and a distinctive rash. The rash is often the last symptom to appear and it does not fade when pressure is applied. Symptoms can vary widely from person to person.
Amy* left me with one final, poignant message which all students should hear: “Meningitis could happen to anybody. Know the symptoms and get the vaccination. It could save your life”.
The NHS now offers a vaccination to protect against some strains of meningitis. For more information please contact your GP or visit the NHS website: www.nhs.co.uk
*Student's name has been changed for anonymity.