fighting meningococcal disease   |   Support, Awareness and Reducing deaths in WA from meningococcal disease

Garry’s Story

On Sept 22nd 2005 I went home from my night shift feeling as though I was gettinga bad dose of the flu. Two of my shift friends had driven me home and althoughI don’t remember much about the drive I do remember waving goodbye at the front door.

That was the last thing I remembered until waking up in Intensive Care in Fremantle hospital 13 days later. My wife Sonya came home from work early, luckily for me, and couldn’t wake me even with the help of our dog jumping all over the bed. An ambulance was rung and, while waiting, black spots were noticed on my feet and torso. I was admitted to Fremantle Hospital where she and our two daughters were told that I had contracted Meningoccal Septicaemia and that even if I survived the next 2 hours I would be lucky to see out the night.

After the first night passed the ICU Doctors placed me in an induced coma and did a Tracheotomy. On the second day I started a 5 day course of Xigris for an all out attack onthe bacteria in my blood.

It was during this time that I went into Renal failure and given dialysis but at the end of the 4th day there were finally some signs of improvement with the spots starting to break up.

The next hurdle was coming out of the coma.This took four tries because during the first three my heart stopped when the ventilator dependence was reduced.

I didn’t know and couldn’t comprehend at first why I was where I was. The coma had made me dream a different reality to the real events that had gone on around me, but when my head cleared enough, I realised how lucky my recovery had been.I have been fortunate enough to come through this with no real long term problems.

Unlike many people who get the disease my legs, feet and hands have been only mildly affected and although the physio is helping to bring back the strength, its taking a little longer than I thought it would. They told me when I was in hospital that it would take anywhere up to 12 months to get back to where I was before I got and most of all to be patient with the recovery.

They were right and patience is now the difference between what my head says I can do and what the body actually lets me do.

For my family and friends there were many highs and lows over the 3 weeks in ICU and even today it is hard for me to comprehend what they went through.

My family was very fortunate that my employer, BP Refinery Kwinana, provided help for them including renting a house within walking distance to the hospital as well as being there to get “things” done that occur at times like this. My friends and work colleges were outstanding in there support and rode the “rollercoaster” of everything that happened.

Even now as I work on recovery, I continue to be understanding of what is going on.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and when we look back on the event, nearly all the symptoms of the sickness were present by the time I got home that morning. Muscle and neck aches, vomiting, cold hands and feet and a change in personality. (Sonya toldme afterwards I had been very short and sharp with her when I was going to bed.)

There is a slowly improving awareness of meningoccal but for me as a 48 year old,it was something I associated with small children and teenagers and not people like me. If there was a good thing, apart from my survival, to take away from this experience it is that there is now a greater awareness amongst a new group of people and their friends and that what has happened to me and many others can be avoided in their lives.