Super fit Hartlepool rugby player’s meningitis warning after being struck down with deadly disease
A super fit young rugby player from Hartlepool has issued a warning to others after being struck down with a potentially-deadly disease which left him in hospital for almost two weeks.
Harry-Jon Morgan, 23, said he felt like he had been ‘hit by a bus’ after he contracted viral meningitis – an infection of the brain.
At first the rugby player and coach believed he just had a touch of flu. But later he found himself being rushed to hospital with agonizing headaches, vomiting blood, and experiencing severe sensitivity to light and confusion.
Now on the way to recovery, Harry-Jon, who lives in the Burn Valley area of town, is urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms of the disease for Meningitis Awareness Week which is running this week until Sunday, September 22.
He said: “I’m a very active person. I go to the gym every day and do rugby training twice a week and am generally in really good shape.
“The kind I had was viral which is not as deadly as bacterial meningitis but is still quite dangerous and can have long term after effects.”
Harry-Jon had just finished pre-season training for Billingham Rugby Club when he was struck down.
“It felt flu like with my muscles aching and headache” he said.
But his condition deteriorated. Harry-Jon said: “Within a week my headaches had worsened to excruciating pain feeling like my brain was going to burst out of my head.
“Every morning I struggled to get out bed feeling I had been hit by a bus.”
His family rushed him to the University Hospital of North Tees where doctors confirmed the disease by carrying out painful lumbar punctures.
“For the first couple of days when I wasn’t asleep I was in agony,” said Harry-Jon. “I couldn’t say what I was thinking. It was quite scary.”
He spent the next 10 days in hospital having medication through a drip and also being treated for encephalitis (swelling of the brain) before being allowed to continue his treatment from home.
It was the second time he has had a form of meningitis in the last eight years.
Harry-Jon, who works at East Durham College in the gym and as a rugby coach, added: “I feel very, very fortunate it wasn’t anything worse. If I had left it any longer, who knows what would have happened.”
He is urging people to be aware of the symptoms and to get checked out quickly.
He said: “Meningitis is not black and white. There are so many different strands and numerous people have lost their lives from it.
“The reason it’s so important to get checked out is because the symptoms mirror so many other things.
“I thought I had a migraine and bit of an infection and all of a sudden I’m in hospital for two weeks.
“If you get headaches, nausea, sensitivity to the light, just get yourself checked out.”