How a brave survivor of meningitis and encephalitis beat her illness

Louise Poole, now 20, was 11 years old when she was put into a coma as a result of suffering from meningitis and encephalitis. She has now pulled through to achieve a black belt in Taekwon-Do and has become a Young Ambassador for Meningitis Now to help raise awareness of the illness.

 Louise was a month off her 12th birthday when she came home from school one day with a headache, feeling sick and a fever. She went to bed and started vomiting. She was taken to the intensive care unit of Bristol Children’s Hospital and woke up over a week later. Louise had meningitis and encephalitis which is why she was put into a coma to reduce the swelling in her brain, but she also had hydrocephalus which required surgery to put a tube in to drain the fluid. Louise says “it is terrifying how fast it all happened and that’s one of the reasons why meningitis is so evil. “I was lucky to survive. If my mum hadn’t found me, I’d have been dead within a few hours.” Because Louise had survived, everyone thought she was fine, but when she returned to school it became apparent that there were still problems. She suffered from fatigue, memory problems, concentration, processing information, assessing risk and controlling impulses among other things. Meningitis Now was the charity which helped the family through the ordeal and have been there ever since with advice on vaccines and immunity. They have offered the family counselling and weekends away with families in similar situations. Last summer Louise became a Young Ambassador for the charity which has involved making speeches even in Parliament, and meeting individuals and families who have been affected by meningitis. Louise has also discovered that since the brain injury she could still do Taekwon-Do and became a black belt in it three years ago. She says “after being ill I took a year off but when I went back to training, all of the stuff I had learnt before was just there.” She has also organised a Taekwon-Do fundraiser for Meningitis Now, raising hundreds of pounds.
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