A YOUNG man from Stourport completely missed his 21st birthday because he was lying unconscious in hospital with meningitis.

Matthew Griffin is still recovering from the terrifying experience last month which resulted in him being hooked up to a life support machine after his parents arrived home to find him collapsed on the floor.

The Worcester University student started to feel ill on October 14 but assumed he had the flu or food poisoning until his condition started to decline the next day.

"As the morning went on, I had an intense headache and my neck began to stiffen,” said Matthew.

“I’d never experienced a migraine before and the pain was unbearable.”

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At this point, Matthew started to be sick so violently that his ribs were hurting.

Luckily, his parents returned home early from a meal with friends because they found him collapsed on the floor, limp and unresponsive.

“My eyes were completely glazed over, bulging wide open,” said Matthew. “My dad being a nurse was quick thinking and called 999 immediately.

"The paramedics arrived to take me to Worcester Royal Hospital. I was very agitated, and they had to sedate me in the ambulance to keep me calm and so they could inject me without me pushing them away.”

At the hospital, Matthew was taken to intensive care where he had a lumbar puncture.

This confirmed that he had bacterial meningitis – the deadliest form of the disease.

He was given antibiotics and also put on a life-support machine to help him breathe.

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Four days later, Matthew woke up.

“I woke up on the Friday and it was the most bizarre feeling,” he said. “I thought I was having a very vivid dream or some sort of hallucination.

“It was then I looked up at the clock to see the time and the date - the 18th October, three days after my 21st birthday.”

Matthew stayed in hospital to recover – but this was harder than he could have imagined.

He said: "I remember saying to my parents during one visit that I needed to use the toilet, but it was a fib. I just needed to get away for a few minutes. I just cried and cried.

"It was an emotional afternoon and I was also thinking about what I’d been missing at uni, all the work and whether I’d fail.

“It’s okay to cry and to have days where you feel emotional. After all meningitis is a very serious illness.

“We hear a lot about cancer and cancer support but conditions like meningitis we don’t hear so much about, so it can be very daunting for people fighting it and trying to return to their normal day to day life.”

Matthew is now continuing his recovery at home, and is hoping to help others understand the seriousness of the disease.

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He said: “The best advice I could give is to take things slowly - which is not necessarily something you want to hear if you led a very active life before.

“Don’t try and do too much because you’re going to feel fatigued for some considerable amount of time.”

Becky Hartwell, Meningitis Now’s head of the Believe & Achieve programme for young people, said: "Our B&A programme is aimed specifically at youngsters aged between 14 and 25 because we recognise that they need different support from adults when living with the impact of meningitis.

"Matthew identifies a common theme in that recovery from the disease is often a lot harder and takes a lot longer than many people realise.

“This is why we offer things like counselling, and events where young people can meet others like them who have either had the disease themselves or who have had a parent or sibling who have had it.

“Of course, everyone’s situation is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all, but nevertheless there are certain themes that crop up again and again. So if you or anyone you know is in this situation we would urge them to get in touch and we would be happy to offer our support and get you involved in our events.”