Monday, 18 October 2021

Singer recovers after being struck down by meningitis

A SINGER has told how she feared the worst after contracting meningitis.

A SINGER has told how she feared the worst after contracting meningitis.

Naomi Vallance, 34, is resting at home in Reading Road, Henley, after spending four nights at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

She was put on a drip and given antibiotics as there was a risk she was suffering from bacterial meningitis, which can kill, before being diagnosed with the viral type.

The blues and soul singer said: “When the word meningitis was mentioned, even in my hazy state I was thinking, ‘oh my God’.

“That was what frightened me most — my mortality. You go along doing things until something strikes you down. I realised that I am not immortal after all. It does bring it home.”

She was admitted to hospital after asking her mother Margaret Goodwin to take her to accident and emergency in the early hours of April 6 because she was feeling unwell.

Ms Vallance, who works as a PA, said she had a bad cold at the end of March and took a few days off.

Then in the week after Easter, she began to feel worse and was suffering headaches. She saw a doctor who told her it was a probably a hangover from the cold.

Ms Vallance said: “I knew something was not right as I do not get headaches and I was feeling awful but I was given some tablets and off I went.

“I did not work on the Thursday and then the next day I did not feel right. The headaches were getting worse and I was starting to get sensitivity to light.

“I could not have the TV on and even my phone was making my head hurt.

“My mum came in to check on me and then at 5am on the Saturday I had an awful headache and started vomiting. I panicked and thought something was definitely not right.” After being admitted to hospital, she underwent tests. She said: “I was not scared at that point because I did not know what was going on. I was in so much pain that I think I was trying to control that. I had been taking lots of painkillers.

“I just felt as if everyone was shouting. Then they started testing my reflexes and taking my temperature and put me on an antibacterial drip.

“The tests went on for about an hour. Doctors were coming in and out all the time.

“At this point I was not thinking meningitis but then my mum started saying that she had already been checking for rashes. What really freaked me out is that they said they thought it was viral [meningitis] but they were not sure.

“I was in limbo thinking, ‘am I getting better?’ I did not feel as if I was. By that point I had been on antiviral drugs, antibiotics, paracetamol and codeine. I was so out of it.

“I could not take my shades off and I remember at one point having my trousers over my head to keep the light out.”

She had a lumbar puncture, where fluid is taken from the spine, to confirm she had viral rather than bacterial meningitis. Ms Vallance felt “immense” relief. She said: “I was told that I did not have the contagious type and that I probably had a weakened immune system from the cold and perhaps I had not been resting properly.

“This has made me think about where I am going and what’s happening and how short life is. We go along thinking we have lots of time but we don’t really.”

Ms Vallance has been given two weeks off from the Geos Group, a transport and logistics company in Station Road, and is being looked after by her mother, sister Rhian and boyfriend Chris Hurley, who lives in Shiplake.

She said: “My mum was like a cat on a hot tin roof but she has been brilliant. Chris has really helped me and looked after me too. He has cooked and cleaned and done all sorts. He won’t let me do anything.

“I have had to rest a lot. I feel run down and I am not going out anywhere as my system is still a bit low.

“I have some stuff that I want to write down — it has been a really emotional journey and quite a shock but I want to use it in a positive way.

“I would really like to thank all the staff at the Royal Berks who looked after me so well.”

Ms Vallance, who is a member of Sam Brown’s Ukulele Club, was told by doctors that a bad case of meningitis can cause deafness and blindness.

“That really concerned me but I am doing all the right things and I do not have any side effects,” she said.

“As far as my voice is concerned, everything is all right. I have done a bit of humming since I came home but I want to take it easy and build things back up.

“I am loud in the way that I sing and I do not like to hold back, so I just want to let things settle before I let it all out.

“I am happy in my life and what I am doing — I love singing.”

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