Yesterday was a bad day ME-wise and I didn’t make it out of my pjs. I even took the dog out on my mobility scooter in my nightware, with my thermal waterproofs over the top, and was asleep by 8.30pm.
- I walked up the stairs and was completely out of breath
- I stood up and felt so dizzy I collapsed back on the chair
- I was so exhausted I struggled to get out of bed
- My hands were tingling
- I spent all night sweating
- My chest hurt when I breathed
- My brain was totally clouded and I couldn’t think properly
- The edges of my vision were dark and flashing
- I felt nauseous
- I had a dry, persistent, cough
- My throat was sore
These are all statements I could have made yesterday (and today), but they aren’t mine. They came from the mouths of people suffering from Covid-19, via a documentary last night on Channel 4 entitled ‘What’s it like to catch coronavirus?’
Weird, isn’t it, that these viral symptoms mimic M.E. symptoms so closely?
It’s always been my assumption, from having M.E. for 26 years, that the body is producing an immune response to a perceived threat. Severe fatigue, sore throats, fevers and chills, sweating, exhaustion and a foggy brain are common viral symptoms irrelevant of what virus you may be suffering from and that’s because they’re not coming from the virus itself but from the immune system’s response to the virus.
That doesn’t mean to say that I think M.E. patients have an ongoing virus because I don’t believe that’s the case. My strong belief is that our immune system thinks we have a virus and mounts a response to the perceived threat.
No-one knows why some people who get Covid-19 get mild symptoms while others end up in hospital, and it’s just the same with M.E. Some people get a mild version while others are completely bedridden.
Another thing to come out vividly in the documentary was how alone those battling Covid-19 felt. They weren’t allowed access to health-care professionals, little is known about the virus, there is no effective treatment and they were just left alone at home to get on with it. They felt isolated, scared and abandoned. Welcome to my world. I haven’t seen a doctor in respect to my M.E. for over a decade and even when I was life-threateningly ill I was just left at home alone to live or die. In any event, there is so little knowledge about M.E. that medical staff are clueless how to help.
As Covid-19 can produce severe exhaustion as one of its many symptoms, there has been speculation that it may trigger post-viral syndromes, including M.E., in some people. While that would be tragic, it would be the best thing to ever happen in the M.E. world. For a start it would finally dispel the myth that M.E. is some kind of behavioural or mental health problem, which we all know it clearly isn’t, and for seconds scientists might take it more seriously and work harder and on a larger scale for a cure or effective treatment.
If any rainbows can come out of this horrendous pandemic I certainly hope that treatments, or dare I hope a cure, for M.E. is one.