Brenda's Story

I am Brenda´s elder sister. On Jan 2 2000 I received the awful news that my sister had contracted Meningococcal septicemia and was not expected to live through the next 24 hours.

My sister lives in Buckinghamshire in England so all I could do was sit at the end of the telephone and wait for news. In all it was over three months before we could be almost certain that Brenda would survive. Not only did she have meningitis C but also she developed MRSA followed by pseudomonas (both antibiotic resistant bugs) and it was only due to her strong constitution that she was not overwhelmed by everything.

In order to save her life my brother in law had to give permission for both her legs to be amputated below the knee; and we are now told that she is very lucky that her hands were not badly affected too - although Brenda has lost the tendons on the back of her right hand and part of the Ulna on the right arm. She had to have extensive skin grafting as vast areas on her arms and back was affected also. Brenda was in one hospital or another (3 in all) for six months and when she was discharged she had to attend a physiotherapy clinic 2 days a week and the prosthesis clinic another 2 days a week (luckily volunteer drivers came to the house and picked her up for her appointments).

Brenda was a very fit 58 year old phys ed teacher when she became sick and was determined enough that she returned to her job as head of department in September, thanks to very supportive employers. She only has to attend an endocrinology clinic now and hopes that that will soon no longer be necessary. She has an electric scooter for short trips and an adapted car for driving to work and appointments.

She had excellent care at the prosthesis clinic in Oxford and wears "jelly liners" which attach to the actual limbs because of the fragility of her skin on the stumps. She must be careful not to walk too far as her skin breaks down very easily which would mean no legs for a while until the skin healed.

I want to stress that it is not just young people who can be affected by meningitis - it can strike the older generation as well. I would like to thank you for your excellent web site. I only wish we had found it earlier. My daughter tried everything she could think of but only found hospital sites and those of medical centers, which frankly were not very helpful.

Your section on meningococcal septicemia was most informative and the stories were also helpful - especially Helen´s story and I have emailed Helen with Brenda´s story. Brenda, incidentally, is head timekeeper for disabled swimming at Stoke Mandeville so she and Helen may meet sometime in the future.

Keep up the good work and get meningococcal septicemia in the spot light over here as I think it is much worse that "ordinary" meningitis. I was surprised at how many people connected with medicine had never heard of it. Thank you, once more.

Patricia Repuski

 

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E-mail - fund@meningitis.ca
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