A WOMAN who suffered brain damage, speech problems, ME and uses a wheelchair after battling viral meningitis four times, is eager to raise awareness of this less well-known form of the disease.

Tina Norman, 53, of Haverfordwest, is suspected of contracting the viral form twice as a child and was confirmed as having it twice as an adult.

A case in 1994 saw Tina suffer partial brain damage, speech and memory loss, plus bouts of confusion and exhaustion. She also contracted ME at this time.

The mum-of-two’s GP found her curled up at home in “extreme pain”, confused and in and out of consciousness.

Tina underwent three lumbar punctures, but one damaged her spine, leaving her wheelchair-bound until recently, when she learnt to walk with canes.

After 21 days in hospital, Tina returned home. She still has issues including a dislike of bright light and noise, and sensitivity to being touched.

Ex-teacher Tina said she “couldn’t explain” the excruciating pain she suffered.

“It took 12 years before I felt better and I’m still dealing with some after-effects now,” she said.

“I feel lucky to survive, it could have been much worse – I could have died – I was 30 minutes from organ failure.

“I’m grateful to be here, glad I have my family – it’s great to be able to see my four-year-old granddaughter Ellie – the apple of my eye – grow up.”

Tina has become a Meningitis Now community speaker and hopes to spread the word about the disease and its symptoms. She is backing the charity’s Vocal About Viral week, from May 5 to 11.

For more information, visit mnow.co.uk/viral-week or freephone 0808 80 10 388.