Charlotte: “Life does not stop after amputation”

A Nottingham woman who lost her lower legs, most of her left hand and fingers from her right hand through meningitis as a student has now told of her inspiring life story.

Charlotte Hannibal was just 18 years old and studying Business at Nottingham Trent University when she contracted bacterial meningitis in 2015.

She was in an induced coma for nearly four weeks and, when she woke up, was told she would need her lower legs and some of both hands amputated due to the infection.

Charlotte, who is now 24, recollects: “It is such a strange conversation to have.

“But it helped to know that life does not stop after amputation.

“I was able to go into the operation with a better frame of mind.”

It was in that moment when Charlotte’s life took an unexpected turn.

Returning to her family home was a strange ordeal for her.

“Having to come home in a wheelchair was such a different experience than I could have imagined,” she said.

“So much needs adapting for a wheelchair – like door widths.

“Your favourite place, your safest place, feels foreign all of a sudden because of how different you are.”

Over the years Charlotte has adapted to life with amputation, and is now even able to drive.

Charlotte in hospital
Charlotte in hospital

She added: “It makes me so happy to be able to get into the car and drive.

“For me, that is my favourite part of my independence, to be able to pick friends up and go where we want to.

“It opens your world up, it really does – even just driving out on your own to clear your head is great, when you’re so often having to ask people for help.”

Charlotte has shared her experience of amputation as well as practical tips and advice for fellow amputees in a video project launched by the charity Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).

Besides the unbearable physical struggles, she opened up about the mental health challenges that she she has been through.

This comes as a new platform called Meningitis & Me has been launched during the Meningitis Awareness Week which started on September 13 and will continue until September 19.

Rob Dawson, Director of Communications, Advocacy and Support at MRF, added: “It is of course very distressing when someone loses their limbs, whether due to meningitis and septicaemia, or for any other reason.

“But as Charlotte says, life does not stop after amputation.