Meningococcus and medical finals

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 03 November 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:1090
  1. Deborah White, foundation year 1 doctor (
  1. Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

    I never thought I was going to die—despite coughing up blood so much I couldn't keep my oxygen supply on. Despite the answer when I asked why my feet looked bruised (“You're peripherally shut down”). Despite seeing a consultant rolling up the bag to squeeze fluids into me. Despite being rushed through the corridors to the intensive treatment unit.

    Less than two weeks before my final exams I was admitted to hospital with a temperature of 39.7°C. I was developing meningococcal pneumonia and septicaemia, and within a few hours I had haemoptysis and was hypoxic and hypotensive. In intensive treatment I received non-invasive ventilation and intravenous antibiotics.

    Despite an apparently remarkable recovery, I was frustrated from the start by my inability to get better faster. It was all I could do to get out of bed to go to the bathroom during my first week in hospital, I was so exhausted, breathless, and in pain. The nurses fussed about muscle wasting and deep venous thromboses, which made me feel it was my fault …

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