ME sufferer reveals stark reality of ‘hidden illness’

ME sufferer reveals stark reality of ‘hidden illness’

ME sufferer reveals stark reality of ‘hidden illness’

First published in News by

NEARLY two decades after the ‘hidden illness’ took over her life making the most simple tasks physically daunting and inexplicably exhausting, ME sufferer Clair Puschnik is resolved to shed light on her often misunderstood condition.

Determined not to allow it to get the best of her, the mother-of-two is keen to share her experience and educate the public about the illness, which affects 250,000 people nationwide, during ME Awareness Month, which launches today.

Clair, from Grange Park, was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis at the age of 19, after failing to recover from a bout of flu which left her bedridden for a week.

But, unaware that her chronic fatigue was a long-term condition, she went on with her life, assuming the disease had simply disappeared, and putting periods of extreme tiredness and constant migraines down to her busy professional and personal life.

It was not until five years ago that the 36-year-old found her daily struggles were all caused by the incurable condition.

“When I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue at 19 I was not aware that I would have it for life so when I felt better I assumed it had gone,” said Clair, a part-time registered childminder. “I didn’t find out until about four or five years ago, when I started doing my degree in education studies.

“My health really suffered but I put it down to the stresses of life.

“I had no idea what I was going through was relapses of ME.

“I started getting double vision and was referred to a specialist at the hospital by my GP and he told me ‘Do you realise this is part of your ME?’”

Common symptoms of ME include muscle pain, persistent exhaustion, poor concentration and memory problems, headaches, un-refreshing sleep and digestive problems, such as nausea or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

While some patients make good progress quite quickly, others can be ill for a number of years. A significant minority are severely affected and bedbound or housebound for months, years or even decades.

“I have had this for over 16 years now and refuse to let it beat me,” Clair said. “However, there are times when it just does crash me senseless and it’s usually at a time when I do not expect it.

“The main symptom that really gets me down is the fatigue. “It is there all the time, but when it hits hard, it’s literally like my body has given up from head to toe and forces me to sleep.

“But I don’t look ill. I call ME the hidden illness.” She said many people think ME sufferers are hypochondriacs because you can’t see the illness.

But Clair said: “I put up a good front because that’s my way of coping, but it’s there.”

l For support visit www.action forme.org.uk or call 0845 1232380.

Comments (3)

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12:19pm Thu 1 May 14

Fioc83 says...

It's the fact that people dont believe i'm ill that annoys me most. Just yesterday i had to leave work because i felt in so much pain and several people just looked at me as though i was making it up. Not only is the constant pain and lack of concentration and memory annoying but other peoples attitudes towards it. I hate it and theres no cure so nothing i can do about it...
It's the fact that people dont believe i'm ill that annoys me most. Just yesterday i had to leave work because i felt in so much pain and several people just looked at me as though i was making it up. Not only is the constant pain and lack of concentration and memory annoying but other peoples attitudes towards it. I hate it and theres no cure so nothing i can do about it... Fioc83
  • Score: 4

2:29pm Thu 1 May 14

jax66 says...

I understand totally and feel for anyone with this condition. I have been very unwell with this illness for 20 years. Every day is a battle.
I understand totally and feel for anyone with this condition. I have been very unwell with this illness for 20 years. Every day is a battle. jax66
  • Score: 1

3:44pm Fri 2 May 14

LordCharles says...

It does not matter what you say here or anywhere, some cynical people will still tell you "It's all in the mind." You have to ignore them. If it cannot be seen then you are not ill. They would be the first ones complaining if they were afflicted too.
It does not matter what you say here or anywhere, some cynical people will still tell you "It's all in the mind." You have to ignore them. If it cannot be seen then you are not ill. They would be the first ones complaining if they were afflicted too. LordCharles
  • Score: 1

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