It was August 2016 and I was 30 years old. I had reached the peak of my career when I landed my dream job travelling around Australia for work in aged care. I was happy. I was independent.
I went from being a happy independent working woman to fighting for my life within hours. I honestly thought I had a bad bout of the flu. Then, when my condition rapidly worsened, my mother took me to the hospital. It took meningococcal disease 12 hours to take hold of my body and shut it down.
After doctors carried out a lumbar puncture, I looked at my legs and the rash began to appear. I knew I was in trouble. The look on my mother’s face is something I will never forget. The doctors placed me in an induced coma as that was my only chance at possibly surviving. I was on life support for 8 days.
Waking up over a week later from a coma, I had no idea the fight I still had ahead of me. I couldn’t move my body and I was put back on life support a further four times. I lost four major organs, my spleen, gallbladder, and bowel were removed and my kidneys had failed.
I needed to learn to walk again because I lost 20kgs leaving me at a weight of 43kgs. A feeding tube was inserted multiple times. My heart failed to only 15% function, my lungs filled with 3 litres of fluid, psoriatic arthritis had ravaged my body.
I have had over 40 operations in just four years including a kidney transplant this year and numerous amputations to my fingers and toes. There isn’t much of me that Meningococcal hasn’t impacted.
Life after Meningococcal for me is a constant battle. I am still dependent on a feeding pump to keep me alive. I have tubes and attachments all over my body. I am in constant pain and I never know what the next day will bring.
Because I have no spleen, my immune system is low so I am more susceptible to viruses. This year, I’ve already had shingles. Let me tell you, they are extremely painful and uncomfortable.
You may think that I am unfortunate to have experienced this in my life. But I can tell you that I am grateful every day to have the opportunity to stop this from happening to other people. By making a monetary gift this Christmas to Meningitis Centre Australia, you could help educate those we love, and help save lives.
This horrid thing called meningococcal disease didn’t kill me for a reason - although it continues to try, even 4 years on! I am here to use my strength and willpower to fight and show others what this disease can do to you. I want to save others from going through what I did, I want to save others from dying.
You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.
Meningococcal has taken a lot from me. It has taken my career, my independence and the ability to have children.
Meningococcal can happen to anyone any age at any time. It happened to me.
Don’t let it happen to you.
Learn the signs and symptoms.
Stay protected, get vaccinated. There are 2 vaccines ACWY and Men B. Speak to your GP for more info.
In Australia, thousands of people are diagnosed with meningococcal, pneumococcal and meningitis every year. Up to one in ten of those infected may die, and around one in five will suffer from serious long-term disabilities, including brain damage, deafness and limb loss.
Meningitis destroys every aspect of your life. Please give today to support awareness programs.