Do you know the signs?

Sometimes life throws you lemons and other times it throws random stuff at you like Viral Meningitis. Viral meningitis is an infection of the membranes (linings) that cover the brain and spinal cord.  I am slowly in recovery mode after getting sick very quickly last Tuesday. I woke up feeling like maybe I had slept funny with a sore neck and bit of  a headache. As the day progressed it got worse and I ended up getting taken up to hospital in agonising pain.

On the way to the hospital I remember being very scared as I felt something was very wrong. I had never had pain like that before. I thought maybe its a brain bleed or something of that severity. I’m a single mum so was worried if it was something really bad what would happen with my daughter. She is everything to me. I was worried as I don’t even have a will drawn up or anything in place for her if anything happens to me. It was a very confronting and eye-opening moment. Like a lot of people do I was catastrophising in the moment being struck down with such pain.

After being given painkillers to help with the pain the doctor started doing their assessment. Neck pain, head pain, fever, light sensitivity, nausea, lethargic, shaking. These were all the symptoms I had. After hearing the doctor list them out it hit me just as She said it, I had Meningitis. They ran blood work to check my white blood cells that were elevated as well as a few other items they checked to confirm. In my case it was Viral Menengitis which is one of the less dangerous strains. As I was so run down already it was a very painful and debilitating case. I was given a choice stay under observation and be uncomfortable or go home and ride it out as all that could be done is to give me strong painkillers to help with the pain. I chose to go home. I have never slept so much as I have the past week. I avoid taking painkillers at all costs but in this case I did and even strong painkillers the doctor prescribed only took the edge off the pain.

I have never known anyone that has had any kind of Meningitis all I have ever known is what I have seen on the news or stories online. It has never affected me or anyone I know. It scared the hell out of me. That week I went from not knowing anything about it to learning about some of the different strains and how it is spread. You can get viral meningitis by breathing in viral particles that have been sneezed or coughed into the air by another infected person. You can also become infected by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus, or through contact with faeces (for example, by changing nappies) day care centers can be ripe with it and not even realise. Viral meningitis is easily spread from contaminated hands to your mouth. I also went from not knowing anyone affected to hearing of 2 other people through the grapevine that currently had it.

The point of this blog post is this could have been a very different story if it had been bacterial or one of the other deadly and more complicated strains. The doctor advised me of how Viral Meningitis is more common than we realise but a lot of people shrug it off as the flu. The severity if how it hits you depends on how well you are generally and if you are immunocompromised and/or run down. It isn’t always Viral though and Bacterial can be deadly. This is how people end up with complications as they shrug off symptoms until they are very severe or it comes on very fast. If you are feeling unwell follow your gut and see a doctor or go to hospital. If you are unsure of which depending on whats wrong there are great things like Health direct you can call for medical advise 24 hours a day.

After this scare and being informed by the doctor just how common it is becoming make sure you know the signs and difference between the flu and something more severe.

So know the signs :

  • fever
  • severe headache
  • drowsiness or confusion
  • nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting
  • neck stiffness
  • sensitivity to light

I hope that sharing this will help people be a bit more informed and conscious of this and even if it helps one person know the sings and get help for themself or a loved one my work here is done.

Thank you for reading


R U Ok?

Today September 13th is R U Ok day. It is a day for suicide awareness and mental health. It is for staying connected and having meaningful connections and asking the all important question to the people around us R U Ok? This year more so than previous years this day has allot more meaning to me. I lost 2 friends within weeks of each other at the beginning of the year both tragically to suicide. They had both moved away from Perth for different reasons and had different issues they were both working through. Unfortunately for friends and family left behind they both didn’t feel like there was a way to work past their demons and decided it was their time to go.

I know from my own experience of PTSD and anxiety when I was younger from traumatic events how hard it can be to open up and reach out. I struggled with crowds and going out after the events and went through years of therapy. I felt for a long time reaching out was a sign I was failing. As I got older I realised that reaching out is a sign that I was realising that I needed someone to talk to help me process my thoughts and feelings. It’s a good and healthy thing to reach out. I swear by having a good therapist and knowing who my support people are that I can talk to about anything. Having a good support network is so important in taking care of your mental health. Also having coping techniques when times are tough are good for everyone to stay on top of mental health to stay healthy. My go to is making sure I stay healthy by going to the gym and exercising regularly and eating well. Healthy body healthy mind works well for me. Everyone has something that works for them it’s just finding it and sticking to it even if you are going through some stuff or feeling low in general. There isn’t always a reason for someone to feel low or down. It’s important to know what helps you. Everyone has different challenges in life and even if you have never had any mental health issues previously it can happen to anyone at anytime. From big life events happening to something more scientific with brain chemistry being imbalanced.

There is a lot of information on being healthy and looking after your body but not as much about keeping your mind healthy. So when looking up ways of staying healthy with different forms of exercise and different healthy eating plans/habits, look up different ways of keeping your mind healthy too. There is so many great ways with things such as  mindfulness, coloring in, meditation, counselling, positive affirmations, taking a beak, a holiday or even getting a good nights sleep all helps keep your mind healthy.

R U Ok day is a day to wear yellow for suicide awareness and keep your door open for people to have a chat. It is a day where we can take the power and take positive steps to improve our mental health. It is a day across the beautiful country we live in to put it out there to everyone that if they need a chat, or a friend to lean on to reach out. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness or admitting failure like a lot of people feel. Reaching out is the opposite, it is being strong and knowing when to ask for help. It is success in knowing your limits and knowing when to share the load. My door is always open for a chat or just to have company and support through life’s ups and downs.