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7th Jul, 2022

Meningitis survivor shares her story to help others affected by the killer disease

Ian Hughes 24th Apr, 2019

A MENINGITIS survivor from Stratford has told her story in the hope of helping others come to terms with the potentially deadly disease.

Teaching assistant Jo Arnold became ill in 2014 and doctors told her family there was little chance of her survival.

But the mum-of -two fought back despite amputations leaving her with lifelong after-effects from her meningitis and has spent the past four years relearning how to do absolutely everything. She now counts herself lucky to be able to watch her children grow and develop.

“After four months in hospital, I returned home and only then did the reality of what had happened to me sink in. I realised that I could do nothing for myself or for my family.

“Being back at home reminded me of my old life before meningitis. I felt very alone and ashamed because I did not know anyone, especially any adults, who had had meningitis so I blamed myself.

“It was not until my husband showed me other people’s stories on the Meningitis Now charity’s website that I realised that this did happen to others.

“By telling my story, raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and increasing vaccine knowledge, I can raise the profile of this devastating disease.

“Meningitis can wreck lives and it’s vital that everybody understands how serious it can be for individuals and families.”

Since then Jo has taken part in Meningitis Now’s Adults Get it Too campaign, speaking at a House of Commons reception about her experience.

“I spent the following two years striving to return to ‘normal’ as much as I possibly could for the sake of my family.

“During that time, I learnt to drive again and returned to work part-time.

“I have had to re-learn how to do absolutely everything. There are still many things that are difficult for me, such as cutting up my food, peeling potatoes, using hair straighteners, reaching for things on the top shelf of the supermarket without breaking anything and my biggest frustrations – cash machines and car parking machines.

“My life will never be the same again, but I do count myself amongst the lucky ones to have survived. I am still here to watch my children grow up and develop into adults.”

“My meningitis journey will always continue but it has taught me how precious life is and to cherish it.”

There are an estimated 22 cases of meningitis each day across the UK. The disease can strike in hours, but the after-effects, including deafness, limb loss and brain damage, can last a lifetime. Those who lose a loved one to the disease have their lives changed forever.

Meningitis Now chief executive Dr Tom Nutt, said: “We know that life after meningitis is tough for many people and we want to showcase the bravery of meningitis survivors and those who have lost a loved one.

“We are here to help and support those who need us.”

For further details visit www.meningitisnow.org or call the Meningitis Now helpline on 0808 80 10 388.

 

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