I thought I had a bad case of the flu. In fact, I was battling a deadly disease…
By Bita Fair, 28, from Bournemouth
I was immediately smitten when friends introduced me to James in December 2012.
We fell madly in love but were unable to spend the following Valentine’s Day together when we was abroad and I was busy studying for my PhD.
I couldn’t wait for James to get home so we could celebrate but when he arrived, I felt dreadful.
I must have the flu, I sighed as I limped back to bed.
But when I collapsed at 2am that morning I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.
Within 18 hours I’d fallen into a coma.
I had deadly bacterial meningitis and because I suffer with lupus, an autoimmune deficiency, doctors prepared James for the worst.
A week later, I eventually woke from my coma.
As my eyes slowly swam into focus, one thing became clear through the haze – James.
He’d been by my bedside the whole time. But what had I lost?
I was horrified as doctors gently explained that in protecting my vital organs from the septicaemia, my body hadn’t been sending blood to my extremities.
My fingers, nose and toes had turned black and I was devastated when I was forced to accept I would lose them.
Would James still love me, now I was so disfigured?
But I needn’t have worried. James was my rock and he proved his love when he proposed at my hospital bedside.
‘Yes!’ I replied, tears streaming down my cheeks.
James couldn’t place an engagement ring on my dying finger but knowing that I’d face the challenges ahead with him by my side was enough.
His love gave me the strength to pull through and incredibly, doctors were even able to save my nose.
When James and I married in September 2013, we exchanged necklaces instead of rings and I wore elbow-length gloves to hide my hands, but I’d never been happier.
James and I have shown that love conquers all – I don’t need a ring on my finger to prove that.