M.E, Myself and I…
If you’re reading this and you’re a relative or a friend you can skip ahead since we can assume you already know me fairly well. If you’re not then hi! I’m Lorna. I’m a 31 year old living in the North West of England with my husband and my cat. Until recently I was all of the following:
Then after three years of increasingly poor health I was diagnosed with M.E in August of last year, and suddenly all of those things I loved were just taken away. Life as I knew it came to a complete halt. It’s funny (in a ‘makes you want to cry’ sort of a way) because obviously I am still a qualified teacher, I still have an interest in or a love of all of the above but when you can no longer partake in them it feels as though they no longer make up the sum of your parts. They become part of the ‘old you’; the pre-illness you. It forces you to re-examine who you are, outside of what you do and there’s a sense of something akin to grief for the loss of your ‘old self’. You suddenly have to re-learn who you are now that all of those identity markers have been taken away. It’s more than a little bit daunting.
Until my diagnosis I had been living in Italy with my husband and working as a teacher; a job that I loved and worked bloody hard to get. I had (still have) a wonderful group of friends in Italy and was really quite happy in the life we had created for ourselves there. We worked hard, we travelled, socialised, enjoyed all the culinary delights that Italy had to offer. But poor health was making it increasingly difficult for me to maintain any semblance of a functional, normal life outside of work. I was barely making it through the working day and started having to spend my evenings and weekends in bed feeling utterly exhausted.
For a long time this was written off (by me and medical professionals) as stress; working in a high pressure job, undertaking my post-grad whilst simultaneously planning a wedding was stressful. But eventually it got to the point where I was in pain daily, had constant flu symptoms and couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs without needing a rest and I simply couldn’t carry on. After two years of tests, referrals and tears in my GP’s office I eventually, FINALLY got a diagnosis. The relief was immense. At last I had hard proof that I wasn’t just being soft or not coping with the demands of life. I had an actual, medically-certifiable condition. Now I had answers I could finally receive the support and treatment I needed to begin my recovery and return to full health, right?
A year later and I’m still asking that question.
M.E, Myself and Myths!
Before we go any further I felt I should clarify a few things about my condition because I know it is still widely misunderstood. I’ll start by telling you what M.E isn’t:
M.E, Myself and the Medical Stuff...
M.E stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis but is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or CFS. To be completely honest the name CFS grates on me a little because there is so much more to this condition than just the fatigue (plus M.E just sounds fancier doesn’t it). Anyway, M.E (ooh, fancy!) is a systemic neuroimmune condition that affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK alone. There is currently no known cure. The following is a list of just some of the common symptoms:
That last one isn’t medically proven or anything, but I think a quick glance at my Instagram would be proof enough.