It all started when...
I awoke in the middle of the night vomiting. It was the 4th December 2007. That date. It's strange how some come into your life and stay with you forever, so that any 4 for a while gave me a shiver down the spine.
I had just started at university and was a couple of months in. And you know how that goes; first taste of independence, just beginning to find out who I was as a young woman. One thing I do know is I thought I was immortal. Or my mortality hadn't been questioned at all, at least.
But that day it all changed.
I'd been feeling pretty ill, flu-like symptoms, but hadn't thought to do anything about it. Everybody I knew had fresher's flu so it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I'd even been to a dance rehearsal the night before and checked in with a guy I was seeing to tell him I'd probably see him the next day, if I felt better.
Even as I vomited all over the bed in the middle of the night I didn't think anything was seriously wrong. But I was delirious by that stage and not thinking clearly.
Somehow, and to this day I'm not sure how, I managed to get up in the morning. I had to go to a lecture (having already missed two and a third inviting a written warning) and struggled out of bed, opening my locked door. If I hadn't done this I would have died in the bed. Stumbling into the corridor I knew something bad was happening to my body. The lights were blinding me and I swayed from wall to wall until I reached the kitchen.
Some of my flatmates were in there. "I feel really bad" I said as I slumped down on the sofa, struggling to maintain consciousness.
The next thing I remember is being lifted down the four flights of stairs on a trolley seat and put in the back of an ambulance.
"What have you taken love" one of the paramedics asked me. Students, ey? "Nothing" my friend Em had to answer for me.
When you say to people "meningitis" the thing people have mostly heard of is the rash. It can come on at different times for different people, but almost always means that you're seriously ill by that stage. Just hours to live for some. When I arrived in A&E I had no idea that this symbol of foreboding had started creeping over my entire body, and neither did anybody else. We waited, myself and two friends Harry and Em, and waited. I remember snippets, a blurry view of a woman across the waiting room who had broken her leg, Harry getting me a bottle of water, suddenly noticing I'd come out in my dressing gown.
And then a junior doctor spotted the start of the rash on my wrist.
From then it was all systems go and my memories for a while become the memories of others, pieced together over the years as details are filled in and emotional barriers broken down.
I was placed on life support and rushed to intensive care. A uni flatmate called my parents who got straight in the car and began the hour and a half drive to where I was from their home. On route my mum got a phone call from one of the nurses. "Just wanted to check you are on your way? Drive safely." It was when she knew I was dying.