From Hangover to hospital

October 22, 1999

Look sharp, spot the signs

Richard Cuthbert, 20, third-year marketing student, Aston University

I owe my life to my flatmate because she skipped an early morning lecture.

I had gone tobed early the night before, as I had been suffering all day from what I thought was the most atrocious hangover. I had had quite a heavy night out and it felt like someone was hitting my head with a hammer. I felt really lethargic and disorientated and the headache continued all through the day and night. At 5am the next morning, I went into my flatmate's bedroom to ask her for some painkillers. I went back to bed: and that's the last I remember until waking up in a hospital bed. I asked the nurse what was wrong and she said I had meningitis. I was shocked. I thought meningitis was something that happened to unhealthy people. I had no idea what the symptoms were.

My flatmate had thought it unusual I had woken her up just because of a hangover and so she decided to check on me. She had found me having a fit on the floor and called the ambulance straight away. The doctors told my parents I had a 50 per cent chance of pulling through.

Thankfully, after two and a half weeks in hospital, I was allowed home. I took seven weeks off university as I was determined not to let it put me back a year. There was an unrelated case at Aston eight weeks later. Unfortunately, he died.

I am not paranoid about meningitis, but I know now that it exists. I look out for my mates and make sure that they know how to spot the symptoms.

Perhaps if I had been more aware I could have diagnosed myself a lot sooner.

JC

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