'Courtney's condition didn't just suddenly improve' 

Tracey Chambers' daughter, Courtney, was diagnosed with meningitis septicaemia. She talks about the short-term and long-term effects of Courtney's illness.

"Courtney woke me at 2am saying she had a pain in her left arm. I rubbed it and told her to go back to bed, but 10 minutes later she was moaning that her neck hurt. As I went to touch her, I realised she was burning up.

"I gave her some medicine, but she vomited immediately. Her hands and feet were ice cold to the extent that I wrapped her feet in a dressing gown and covered them with a duvet, but I could still feel the cold through them.

"Courtney was saying she wanted to die because everywhere hurt so much. She kept being sick and her hearing was unusually acute. I knew that something was really wrong.

"She had a spot in the middle of her tummy, so I phoned NHS Direct. I was told to do the tumbler test over the spot, and when it didn't disappear I called an ambulance." [NHS Direct has been replaced by NHS 111.] 

"Later on, Courtney had a headache, stiff neck and she was talking rubbish. She wasn't making any sense, and she was showing all the classic signs of meningitis.

"After she got out of hospital, the Meningitis Research Foundation helpline told me everything I needed to know. They were brilliant and my saviour for about 2.5 years. They gave me any help that I needed.

"Courtney's condition didn't just suddenly improve after two weeks. It still affects her now, years afterwards. My main worry was that she'd never walk again, because for some unknown reason she couldn't walk.

"The doctors had to keep her leg in a particular position and plaster it, then take the plaster off and put her leg in a different position and replaster it. This was followed by intensive hydrotherapy.

"Her behaviour also got worse. She knew what she was doing was wrong, but couldn't help herself. She still sees a counsellor to help with her anxiety.

"She has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), too, and if she's stressed it really flares up. She's got a fear of death and thinks she's ill all the time when she's not. She needs constant reassurance. Her therapist is helping her with that.

"For all the problems though, it's amazing how far she's come – from intensive care to running around playing football. She doesn't sit still  she loves activity and just loves life."

Page last reviewed: 12/04/2016

Next review due: 12/04/2018