EARACHE for two days was the only warning before meningitis almost killed an otherwise healthy father, wiped his memory and left him deaf in one ear.
Doctors said Michael Warren, 33, was two hours from death when partner Zoe James, 20, found him lying in a pool of blood in his Kettering flat on January 2.
When Mr Warren woke up in Kettering General Hospital, where he was treated for 16 days, he could not remember he had a one-month-old son, Duncan.
He said: “They said I had fallen over and I had meningitis. I didn’t really believe it.
“I didn’t know what was going on. It was quite traumatic.
“If she hadn’t found me, I wouldn’t be here.”
Miss James is caring for Mr Warren, who still suffers dizziness, memory loss and headaches, at her Irthlingborough flat. She said: “They told us if we’d left it for another two or three hours he would have been gone.”
Scars on Mr Warren’s face show where he fell in his Highfield Crescent flat.
Distraught Miss James, with baby in tow, saw Mr Warren lying prone through the window and got a neighbour to help her break in.
But the biggest shock was when he came round.
Miss James said: “I showed him a picture of Duncan and he asked who it was.
“I said: ‘That’s our son.’ He said: ‘I don’t have a son.’
“That was my lowest point. I had to walk out. I was in tears.”
It took doctors five days to diagnose Mr Warren’s pneumococcal meningitis, which is caused by a usually harmless bacteria present in most people’s nose and throat.
He has no hearing in his left ear and only 20 per cent hearing in his right, for which he now has a hearing aid.
But Mr Warren is now concentrating on getting better so he can use the skills he learned studying horticulture at Moulton College, where he met Miss James.
He said: “I’ve got a little bit of recovering before I dig any flower beds.”