A meningitis survivor has said the ‘amazing work’ of doctors and nurses at Medway Maritime Hospital saved her life.
Kerry McKinnon, now 36, spoke publicly of her frightening illness, in the hope that it would raise awareness of the symptoms and the fact that it can strike adults as well as children.
She contracted a near fatal dose of bacterial meningitis and woke from a 10-day coma to horrifying hallucinations. She had been suffering from headaches and aching bones for almost a month before she collapsed with a debilitating migraine.
Kerry, from Sheppey, said: “My brain felt like it was trying to come out of the front of my head. I’d never felt anything like it before. I took some painkillers and lay down on the bed. That was the last thing I saw until I woke up 10 days later.”
She was in the hospital for nearly two weeks while her condition stabilised and she received intensive physiotherapy to get her muscles working again.
More than three years after being discharged, she has recovered well enough to return to work full time and care for her late sister’s seven-year-old son, Jack.
Kerry said: “Having Jack to care for really helped pull me through. I knew I had to survive to look after him. I’ve been left with a bit of hearing loss and type 2 diabetes, but I’m just happy I survived.
Naively, I thought only kids contracted meningitis, so I want people of all ages to look out for the signs. If it hadn’t have been for my parents and our GP acting quickly I wouldn’t be here.
“The same goes for the amazing work of the doctors and nurses at Medway. Without them I’d be dead.”
Kerry was cared for by Consultant Catherine Plowright, who said: “Many patients who are critically ill for whatever reason and require admission to a critical care unit will experience strange, vivid dreams and hallucinations.
“This is called delirium and is caused by a variety of reasons, including the critical nature of the illness, the drugs used to treat them, and as they cannot clearly understand what is happening to them the have memory gaps and in an attempt to fill in these memory gaps they dream and hallucinate.
“At Medway we have a Critical Care Follow service and see our patients before they leave hospital and then once they are at home. Kerry was seen by myself on two occasions within three months to help her though this part of her critical care recovery.”