An Ellon photographer is lucky to be alive after being struck down by a potentially deadly strain of meningitis.
Freelance Andy McLean was rushed to hospital suffering from meningococcal septicaemia and was later told by doctors he was fortunate to survive.
Andy, 64, a leading local Rotarian, is now on the road to recovery after his scare.
He spent around 10 days in hospital after being hit by the bacterial infection earlier this month, and he also developed pneumonia and diabetes.
But there was no warning meningitis was about to strike.
Andy told the Times: “I had a bit of a sore throat during the day and went to bed thinking it was flu, but nothing too bad. When I woke in the morning I couldn’t move a muscle.
“Every joint, every bone, every muscle was sore and I thought it was a really bad dose of flu. Then I started to vomit time after time.”
Around mid-morning he was still no better and decided to call the doctor’s surgery for an appointment.
Andy, who does freelance work for the Ellon Times, explained: “I managed to drive to the surgery and still don’t know how I got there the way I was feeling.
“I was eventually seen and after various tests they weren’t happy with me and saw I was pretty ill, so they said I needed to go to hospital.”
An ambulance was called, but it had to come from Alford and he has little recollection of what happened next.
Andy said: “I remember arriving at hospital and five or six doctors were around me and I was put on various tubes and taken for a CT scan, an X-ray and then had lots of blood tests.
“They eventually established it was meningococcal septicaemia and I was treated with antibiotics and later moved to the high dependency unit.
“I was informed by them that I was very lucky and had I left it much longer they would have found it very hard to bring me back. They said I had used up two lives with the infection.”
He started to make a steady recovery with the treatment and was released from hospital the following week.
Now home in Ellon and recuperating, Andy has had time to reflect on his narrow escape.
He said: “The doctors said they had not seen someone of my age with that. They told me that with this infection there are lots of complications which can lead to the loss of limbs and liver failure.
“I was very, very lucky and I really feel that I got a second chance.
“I was not ready to die, to be honest...I had not prepared anything for it.
“I just went to bed one night and the next day, had I just thought it was flu and done nothing, that would have been me.
“It doesn’t bear thinking about. I’m really grateful to the doctors and nurses who worked so hard on my behalf. I can’t thank them enough.”
Andy also really appreciated all the visits and good wishes from the local community he received while in hospital.
As he recovers, he is paying particular attention to diet and exercise and has taken to regular walks around the town to build up his strength.