Life-threatening pressure

By Laura TomassiniMisch PautschLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Meningitis is considered a rare disease in Europe, but if it is treated incorrectly or too late, it can have serious consequences, including the death of the patient. Nina Van Maris also suffered from meningitis and reports how quickly life can change.

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Every year, Sabrina Van Maris shares her story on social media. The story of a young woman who, at 26, was pursuing a career as a professional soldier, going to parties and dedicating herself to her online tattoo community, until everything suddenly changed during a holiday. In 2016, Nina, as her friends and family call her, spent the Easter holidays with her mother and sister in Egypt. Even before the return flight, Nina was visibly unwell: she had severe headaches and neck pain, fever and chills.

"The pilot said that if it got any worse, we would have to make an emergency landing, " the 32-year-old recalls. From the airport, Nina went straight to the hospital in Ettelbruck – to an isolation room, because the doctors could not rule out an infectious disease due to her stay in a country classified as tropical. "They didn't find out what was wrong with me and I wasn't treated properly until I became unresponsive and my mother had me transferred to the Centre Hospitalier, " says Nina.

Perplexity at the diagnosis

Pumped full of medication against inflammation, pain and other symptoms, the patient was admitted to the tropical ward, but here too the local team was at a loss as to what to do about her situation. "A lumbar puncture revealed that I had an incredible amount of bacteria in my head, so I was immediately referred abroad." Her values deteriorated visibly, Nina could no longer speak or move her legs and felt an almost unbearable pressure in her head. Only after more than a year of perplexity did the doctor from the Luxembourg army point out the possibility of meningitis – a tip that changed everything.

"After numerous analyses, it was discovered that lice had probably been stirred up during a desert storm in Egypt and had bitten me all over my body, thus transmitting bacteria. Only after this diagnosis did things start to look up for me, " says Nina. The doctors in Luxembourg had already given up on the future soldier and told her mother that she would have to accept her daughter's fate, but the mother of five did not want to abandon her child and single-handedly took Nina to a specialist in Freiburg. Every day, Nina's lower back was puncutated here with a fine needle in order to examine the knowledge-bringing nerve fluid.

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