When I first encountered people who have Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), it hit me hard.
I heard stories and struggles of at least three people who stood up on a makeshift podium at the Bethel Church Community Centre. At the end of the gathering of M.E sufferers and carers, I got to talk to a couple more who were very willing to share their stories to people like me who were there to listen and understand their suffering.
I was floored. Absolutely. From what I gathered, the disease can happen to just about anyone.
There was a mother who talked about a very active daughter who one day just got a fever, developed M.E. and never recovered from it. She has been bedbound now for about 20 years. There was this man who was a member of a motorcycle club and used to go cruising with his buddies every weekend. He had an accident, developed M.E. and after six years is still trying to get his life back. And there is this beautiful young lady, at the prime of her life, who simply blacked out one day due to the stress of studying. Five years later, she is still regularly experiencing nausea and sensitivity to light while trying to recover from the illness.
Their stories are very different from each other. They got the illness through different ways. But they all exhibited the same symptoms of extreme fatigue, sometimes muscular or joint pains, headaches, stomach pains, sensitivity to light, sleep problems, depression, dizziness and so on.
The thing is, the cause of M.E. has not been thoroughly researched on. The National Health Service suggests possible causes:
- problems with the immune system
- hormone imbalance
- psychiatric problems
- traumatic events
But why do these causes lead to M.E.? Some people can have these problems and not be afflicted with the illness. Some can seemingly not exhibit any of these issues and develop M.E. I believe we should all try to understand this disease, to help patients and carers. And most importantly, so we know what to do in case this illness affects us, our families and friends.
Do you think we should all take the time to understand the disease? Let me know your thoughts!