Did you know that migraines and viral meningitis share a lot of the same symptoms? Until last week, neither did I!
We had a bit of a scare last week, which I will tell you about below, and I thought it only right to share the information I learnt with you all. Just in case the same thing happened to someone else.
As you can see from this infographic that I threw together the symptoms of both migraine and meningitis, although there are differences, are actually very similar. If they are happening to you, and you are a migraine sufferer, then you are highly likely to pass them off as just another migraine.
Please, if you have a temperature, stiff neck, rash or just that your head hurts more than it ever has before, GO TO THE DOCTOR, it is better to get it checked out and be nothing serious, than leaving it until it’s too late!
Here is our story.
On Monday morning LM was woken up, before the alarm, with an excruciating headache. It was so painful she was in tears. I gave her painkillers and packed her back off to bed. I did note that she felt a little warm, but she’d been bundled up under her blankets and was crying, so I didn’t think anything of it.
A few hours later her head was still agony and the light was hurting her eyes. My first thought was migraine. She’s never had migraines before but there is a strong family history on both mine and Lee’s sides of the family. I gave her migraleave and told her to go back to bed as sleep was about the only thing that would help her.
At 3.30 her headache was a lot worse. Again she felt a little warm but again I didn’t think too much of it. It wasn’t a raging temperatur. But being as neither the Ibuprofen or the migraleave touched the pain and she seemed to be getting worse I rang and spoke to the emergency doctor. We were asked to go down straight away and were seen within 10 minutes.
The doctor barely looked at her. She took her temp, asked of she had a cold, sore throat, bad ears etc and then turned to me. All the while LM was getting paler and paler.
‘You need to take her straight to hospital, I think she might have meningitis’
She then backtracked saying not to worry too much and that if it was it would more than likely be viral meningitis, which is quite common, and that she didn’t think it would be bacterial meningitis. I always knew there was a difference but in all honesty? Even after 16 years of being a parent I had never really thought about it. Just that meningitis was a bad thing. A REALLY bad thing!
We were only there because of a migraine!
We got half way back down the corridor to the waiting room when LM announced that she was going to be sick. I had visions of her vomiting everywhere but I managed to grab one of the receptionists and she put her hands straight on a cardboard sick bowl that just happened to be laying around. Once she was feeling a little better we went off armed with a stack of sick bowls to get us to the hospital.
They were fantastic in the Paediatric Assessment Unit. She was given a bed and the curtains were drawn to block the light a bit as soon as we walked through the door. She fell back asleep straight away.
Her temp was 38.4c so she was stripped down to her tshirt and given paracetamol in the hopes to get it down. Both the junior doctor and the consultant were hopeful that it was just a migraine but agreed Meningitis was a possibility and the consultant explained the similarities between the two.
She spent the next 6 hours either sleeping or crying when nurses taking her temperature would tut, take her blanket away and aimed the fan on her. Occasionally the doctors would come in turn the fan off and put the blanket back on because she was upset and said she was cold. Her temp still didn’t go down, she kept being sick and her head was still not getting any better. So finally she was given IV paracetamol, put on a drip and admitted to the ward.
Her infection markers were slightly elevated but, as with her temperature, not overly worrying for the doctors. We just had to wait and see how she went over night. She had a lot better nights sleep than I did. I woke every time she moved and every hour when the nurses did her obs.
By 5am her temperature finally dipped back into the 37s.
By 9am she had managed to stay awake for an hour, longer than any point in the previous 36 hours. Her head still hurt and she still looked unwell but she ate breakfast without being sick. Around 11am, when the doctor said she could go home, that heavy feeling of worry that had been weighing me down since we were sat in the doctors surgery the day before finally lifted.
It turns out LM had a virus AND a migraine. The temperature made her migraine worse and just confused matters for the doctors. But they all said she was definitely in the right place because she was so badly affected. At home she was still being sick, her temperature still fluctuated and her head still hurt but after a good couple of days she was mostly better. Just tired.
I am so grateful for the doctors and nurses, and the receptionist who can magic up sick bowls, for being there for us. We might complain about waiting lists (I know I do) and rubbish service, but when it really matters, in an emergency, we can definitely say the NHS step up to the mark!