Meningitis and Me
Meningitis and me. The title of the newest project by the Meningitis Research Foundation resonates with me, having been personally affected by this life changing disease at the age of 6. Meningitis and its effects have been widely publicised thanks to the hard work of charities like the Meningitis Research Foundation, and you will often see awareness leaflets and posters in GP practices and hospitals across the country on the importance of recognising the early symptoms of the disease.
However, until you have personally experienced or witnessed the disease and its vast range of long-term effects, it is difficult to have a true understanding of the impact of it and its life-changing consequences. It can be extremely difficult to know where to turn, who to turn to and if there is any support available to those affected by meningitis once it has been diagnosed.
Meningitis is a disease that can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection, the latter often leading to limb loss, life changing injuries or death. The launch of the Meningitis and Me project aims to enable families, friends and the wider community to understand the vast range of long term visible and invisible injuries, as well as support to those who have lost a loved one.
The Meningitis Research Foundation reports that over a third of patients who survive meningitis will be left with life-altering injuries including severe scarring, deafness, brain injuries and mental health conditions. However, there is no single aftercare plan that can support people who have survived and are adapting to their new way of life, with the injuries being so diverse. The Meningitis Research Foundation has identified that this often leads to people falling through the gaps when it comes to aftercare, and intends that the launch of Meningitis and Me may help to combat feelings of isolation and help people realise they are not alone.
This new project expands the current services being offered by the Meningitis Research Foundation, providing online access to Meningitis Mentors. This allows users to upload videos, watch and comment on other posts and provide a platform in an accessible format. The hope is that people will be able to connect with others affected by the disease, sharing their experiences and helping each other through what will inevitably be an extremely difficult period in their lives.
As I mentioned, I was affected by Meningitis at the age of 6 years old when my Dad contracted Meningococcal Meningitis (type B) and septicaemia. Thankfully, and not without incredible strength on his part and the medical teams around him, my Dad survived, but the long-term effects are something we as a family have lived with since. I am sure that, had there be resources like the Meningitis and Me project available for my family, this would have provided invaluable support for us all.
I am lucky enough to be an ambassador and be-friender for the Meningitis Research Foundation, and at Wolferstans we support families who have suffered a delay in diagnosis resulting in even more significant injuries. Being able to signpost families to this service will serve to help not only people who contract Meningitis, but those around them who are now carers for their loved ones, who are adapting to limb loss, or in understanding the impact of a brain injury.
During this Meningitis Awareness Week, Wolferstans are delighted to be able to support the launch of the Meningitis and Me project with the Meningitis Research Foundation.