How the common flu virus left Southam mum fighting for her life

A MOTHER-OF-TWO from Southam who almost died and had to learn how to walk, talk and feed herself again is urging people to get themselves vaccinated against the flu.

Louise Lyle missed out on celebrating Christmas with her family last year as she was instead in intensive care, being kept alive by a life-support machine and fed via tubes. She also had to be put on dialysis after her kidneys had failed.

The otherwise fit and healthy 39-year-old had contracted flu and the virus had attacked all her major organs. She said: “It was scary how quickly I went from having what I thought was just a cold to becoming extremely poorly. My symptoms started out as those typical of a cold – sore head, throat, aches and pains - but then I developed a really nasty cough and went rapidly downhill from there.

“Within a week, my symptoms had gone from moderate to severe. I was very lethargic and withdrawn and I could feel my heart racing in my chest even when I was resting. I knew that my health was deteriorating and that I needed help.”

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Mrs Lyle spent two months at Warwick Hospital, five weeks of which she was in intensive care, while her husband spent most of every day at her bedside. She was then moved to the University Hospital in Coventry where she received specialist care and had to undergo regular tests.

It was not until February that Mrs Lyle was finally able to return home to her husband and two daughters, but she still has a long way to go until she makes a full recovery. Although she no longer has physiotherapy, she continues with respiratory physiotherapy and goes through periods of extreme fatigue, meaning she has still not been able to return to work.

She said: “As an otherwise fit and healthy person, I hadn’t had a flu jab. It was not something that I thought applied to me. This year I made sure that my family and I have all been vaccinated against seasonal flu.

“I really would urge anyone who is offered the vaccination by their GP to accept it and those who aren’t in an at-risk group to get their vaccination from a pharmacist. Last year, it was young and middle-aged people like me who were most seriously affected by flu and like I did, they probably think they won’t be affected.”

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She added: “I am lucky to even be here considering how ill I was. I really am grateful to be alive and am determined to have a lovely Christmas with my family and friends this year to make up for the one we lost last year.”

Anyone who thinks they are suffering from flu should contact their GP. Click here to find out more.