Television star James Patrice has opened up about how he was left fighting for his life after contracting deadly meningitis as a ten-year-old.
The Dubliner is today urging people to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of the silent killer, which has seen 11 people diagnosed during a spike in cases since Christmas Eve. The HSE is also investigating a possible 12th case.
Currently appearing on RTE’s Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) as a backstage reporter, James recalled that he was on his school holidays just after the turn of the millennium when the nightmare began.
James (29) said: “It was the night of January 3, 2000 when I got it, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I just felt a little weak and had a sick stomach.”
“As the night went on, I still didn’t feel particularly great. I was a little bit weak, and felt generally unwell. Mum said: ‘if you are not well, stay in our room tonight.’”
He said he woke up in the early hours of the morning and felt he was going to get sick so went to the bathroom. “I got the tiniest amount sick. Mum came in and she noticed red dots on my leg.”
His parents bundled him into the car. Their GP lived near them, and they sped to his house in two minutes flat. “He said: ‘This looks like meningitis, I’m ringing Temple Street.’”
With no time to spare, his mum and dad flew into Temple Street, thankfully there was no traffic in the early hours of the morning.
“It was like an episode of ER, the whole team was waiting for us. They had the room ready, which was great. I remember collapsing down, and I woke up and I was in a bed, and they were cutting the clothes off me and my Dad was beside me. I feel asleep.
“They told my Mum and Dad the next 48 hours were going to be critical, and whether I would make it or not, they didn’t know. I had bacterial meningitis and septicaemia. I had meningitis B.
“I was in the hospital for ten days. For two days, it was critical, I was in intensive care and I had lumbar punctures. I was drifting in and out and I remember bits of it.”
Thankfully, when the danger passed, James was placed on a ward and the staff monitored him to made sure he was okay.
“I made a 100pc full recovery. I just remember the Professor in Temple Street, he just kept saying ‘you are so lucky’”.
He said he had to return after three months for a check-up and again at six months.
Last year, James became an ambassador for the Meningitis Research Foundation, and he said he encourages people to go on their website and familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of the lethal bug, and even pop them up on their fridge.
Symptoms can include fever, joint or muscle pain, rapid breathing, severe headaches, drowsiness, discomfort from bright light, neck stiffness, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Meanwhile, he has been busy with DWTS which will air for the third show in the series on Sunday night. “It flies for us doing the interviews, so I can only imagine how it flies for the contestants. The boys were so great the first week. But then the girls came out, and they were really good.”
He said that he thinks the celebrities are happy to have the first routine done and dusted, after rehearsing it for weeks. “It is their very first time to go out, and they just want to get out and do it. Even the pros will say, there is actually only so many times you can rehearse it, because you have done it so much.
“I think they can all breathe a sigh of relief now because they have done it. They all know what they are up against.”
“I have to say they are all a very nice bunch,” James added.