A young woman is preparing to shave her hair off and get her head tattooed in a bid to raise awareness of a debilitating illness which left her partially blind and suffering constant headaches.
Hollie Tucker was 23 when she contracted viral meningitis in 2012.
She told the Observer: “My experience with meningitis was horrific.
“I woke up one day with the most debilitating headache I have ever had and couldn’t even stand up because of the pressure on my head.
“This got slowly worse until I lost the sight in my right eye and it turned inwards.
“I was turned away by four doctors blaming it on a migraine until luckily I saw a doctor who had also had viral meningitis himself and recognised the signs.
“Within half an hour I was rushed to the Conquest Hospital in an ambulance, straight from the doctors.”
Hollie also experienced sensitivity to light and sound, vomiting and a stiff neck.
She spent a month in hospital before she was finally allowed home.
But Hollie, who lives in Cambridge Gardens in Hastings, has been left with some nasty after effects, which forced her to give up her job as a supervisor at Holland and Barret in Rye.
She said: “Viral meningitis is often played down and seen as the less serious form of meningitis, but it has been shown many people suffer from long term after effects.
“I still suffer from partial blindness in my right eye, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, problems with my memory and constant headaches.
“It also triggered fibromyalgia which is an illness with a wide range of symptoms which has left me unable to work after working full time since I left school.”
Now Hollie, who turns 28 next month, is to mark her birthday by raising funds for a meningitis charity in a rather unusual fashion.
She said: “I am shaving my hair off on my birthday on September 8 at Goodman barbers in Robertson street.
“I will also be having a microscope tattooed on my head at a later date which is the logo of the Meningitis Research Foundation.
“I am raising money for the Meningitis Research Foundation which works tirelessly to raise awareness and do research into the causes of this illness and vaccines to stop the spread of it.
“I am hoping to raise £250 and any more than that would be absolutely amazing!”
Hollie believes more people need to be made aware of the signs of meningitis.
She said: “Lots of people have heard of meningitis and instantly think of babies having it and the rash that comes with it.
“What people may not realise is there are actually five types of meningitis — bacterial, viral, parasitic, fungal and non-infectious. Septicaemia can also go hand in hand with meningitis.
“These can all have varying symptoms from mild to severe and can also result in sudden death, amputations and severe disability.
“More people need to know the symptoms of the different types and what effect it can have.”
To sponsor Hollie, visit www.JustGiving.com/hollie-tucker.
For more about meningitis, visit the Meningitis Research Foundation website at www.meningitis.org
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