A Wearside mum today told how she was just minutes from death after contracting meningitis when she fell seriously ill on Christmas Day.
Tracey Carroll, 36, was struck down by the illness six months ago, with doctors saying she could’ve been minutes from death.
Originally diagnosed with a chest infection, her condition began to worsen which is when she was taken into hospital and put on the critical list.
Now recovering at home, she remains in pain and is due to have the toes on both of her feet removed after gangrene set in.
Speaking to the Echo today, Tracey said: “I shouldn’t really be here - but I am one lucky person.”
Now, the battler, who is married to Richard, 35, with who she has son Jordan, 14, is hoping to raise awareness of the dangers of meningitis while also warning the public that it is not just babies and younger people who can contract it.
It was last December that Tracey, who lives in the Queensway area of Houghton, first began to feel unwell.
“I had a bit of a chest infection and went to the doctors with my husband.
“The doctor said to make an emergency appointment, but the one I got was with a different doctor and I wasn’t given any antibiotics.
“On Christmas Day I got up at 6am to start cooking the turkey and put my son’s Christmas presents out.
“But I ended up lying on the couch shaking because I felt so unwell.”
Tracey’s condition then rapidly worsened.
“I went up to bed for a few hours because my head was banging and I’d started being sick.
“My husband came up and put the light on but I couldn’t see him. He said I looked like a ghost too.”
An ambulance was called immediately, with Tracey taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital for treatment.
“The paramedics said that if my husband had left it another 10 or 15 minutes to call for help I might not have made it.”
Put in an induced coma, medics discovered that Tracey had contracted meningococcal meningitis, of which it is rare for a person in their 30s to get.
“Instead of going day-by-day, they were going hour-by-hour as to whether I would survive.”
On December 30, Tracey was then transferred to a specialist unit at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, although there were doubts that she would be well enough to travel after developing pneumonia in her lungs.
With her oxygen levels fluctuating constantly, Tracey began to get better after responding to treatment.
During the ordeal however, her organs started to shut down and she suffered swelling on the brain.
“After all I went through, I shouldn’t really be here to be honest,” she said.
“I’m one lucky person to have survived and I just want to make people aware.
“Me getting meningitis started with a chest infection and it could have killed me.”
Tracey was then transported back to Sunderland Royal and put on the Integrated Critical Care Unit for three days before being moved onto another ward.
Despite being discharged from hospital back in January, there have been side effects.
“I’m having to have the toes on both of my feet removed because gangrene set in,” added Tracey, who now uses a wheelchair to get about.
“The pain has been unbearable, but hopefully this should stop that once I’ve had the operation.
“I just try to live as normal as possible, although I’m finding it hard to come to grips with what happened.
“My family have been spot on and helped out 100% which has made a huge difference.”
Tracey’s main aim as well as getting better, is to spread the word of the dangers of meningitis in adults.
“I thought what I had was just a normal cold but it turned out to be a bacteria that grows in the nose and throat.
“People need to be aware of what to do in case it happens to them.
“I’ve survived, but the next person who gets it might not.”