A retired Midland businessman has told how he fell into a coma and had to teach himself to walk again after being struck down with meningitis.
Like many people, David Rutter thought the debilitating brain bug only affected children and young people - until he developed the pneumococcal strain of the illness at the age of 57.
Mr Rutter, from Gualford, near Malvern, suffered a severe headache, vomiting, and a sensitivity to bright light before he had a major fit that left him unconscious. He then went into a coma for seven days. After he came round, it took him more than a year to teach himself how to walk, talk and write again so he could return to work.
He said: "I'd been walking the dog before work and by the time I got home I had a raging headache, couldn't bear light on my eyes, and was vomiting.
"My wife called our GP who examined me and gave me an injection, but about two hours later she called him out again because my condition wasn't improving. By the time he arrived I was having a fit on the floor, so he called for an ambulance which took me to hospital in Worcester. The doctors there weren't sure it was meningitis, but after they carried out various tests they realised that it was."
Staff at Ronkswood Hospital in Worcester - which has since closed and been replaced by Worcestershire Royal Infirmary - thought the bacteria might have got into his brain after a minor operation.
"Doctors thought the germs had got into my brain following over- vigorous removal of polyps - benign growths - in my nose," said Mr Rutter.
He had surgery at a specialist brain unit to close two small holes left by the previous operation and then had to learn to walk, talk and write all over again.
Now he works as a counsellor for the Meningitis Trust, helping other sufferers through their rehabilitation, and is keen to make people of all ages aware of the condition.
Speaking ahead of Men's Health Week next week, Mr Rutter said: "The whole process can be debilitating. You feel out of control of your dayto- day functions, so it's important to know you're not alone in this."
Mr Rutter's GP, Dr David Webster, based in Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire, said diagnosing meningitis was difficult in adult cases, because its symptoms could mimic many other conditions.
"In hindsight, his symptoms did fit in with that pattern, but that's the problem with meningitis - it can mimic so many other conditions," he said.