A TYRONE man who narrowly survived a battle with meningitis in 2017 has issued a stark warning advising people to ‘be vigilant and responsive’ to the symptoms of this deadly infection.
Niall McCrory, a 27-year-old from Omagh, was prompted to make his public appeal after the life of Odhran McKenna, a 22-year-old from Belfast, was so quickly claimed by the killer infection at the start of the month.
It was reported that, on the evening of January 7, Odhran, father of an 18-month-old son, took to his room with a sore head. His grandfather found him dead in bed in the early hours of the following morning. A postmortem revealed Odhran had contracted meningitis and sepsis.
Speaking with the Tyrone Herald, Niall McCrory spoke of how hard the news of Odhran’s death hit him, and how it served to reiterate the importance of, firstly, being aware of the symptoms of meningitis, and, secondly, responding to them as quickly as possible.
Niall took meningitis in 2017. He was 21.
“I had a sore head. I couldn’t look at a light without it blinding me and splitting my head,” he said.
“I couldn’t keep down food; I was running to the toilet flat out; and I was absolutely shattered.”
Niall’s mother had been due to attend a wedding the weekend he got sick. Thankfully, fortuitous circumstances transpired to make her attendance impossible.
“I took sick on the Friday, and on Saturday afternoon, my ma said that I had to go to the doctor’s,” said Niall.
Soon after entering his GP’s office, Niall was told his condition was serious. He was sent to South West Acute Hospital immediately.
“When we got to Enniskillen, I was treated quickly. They put a few lines in me, and began feeding me fluids, medicines, and whatever else they reckoned I needed,” recalled Niall. “They thought I was improving.”
However, a variety of underlying conditions which affected Niall served to obscure the true nature of the problem.
Niall had not yet been diagnosed with meningitis.
“Apparently, they found me unconscious in the bed. The next thing that I remember was lying in a bed, with what I now know to be 17 medical professionals around me,” said Niall.
Niall’s immediate future was uncertain. His life was in the balance.
“They had lines going into me everywhere, including five in my neck, one of which was feeding directly into my jugular.”
Niall said that every medical move made in that ICU department was authorised by professionals in Belfast, such was the peril of his position.
“I do not even know if they told my ma just how close I was to…” he trailed off.
But after a few days, Niall began to come around, and his family’s nerves started to settle.
A few days after that, and Niall’s health was relatively stable.
“I am thankful for my life that I went to the doctor when I did,” said Niall.
“The insidious thing is, the symptoms are very like those of many less dangerous, non-life-threatening infections, conditions and viruses. However, where a day of rest will help fight off these less severe illnesses, it will only give meningitis more time to do more harm.
“My advice for people is to be attentive to any changes in your health.
“If it is out of the ordinary for you to have a sore head, vertigo, an aversion to light, high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, a rash… Any of these things, please seek medical attention immediately. It might save your life. It saved mine.”
More information on symptoms and treatment can be found at ht’www.nhs.uk/conditions/meningitis/symptoms/’.