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” Bullies ” comment and The Lancet

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There was a bit of a row on Twitter yesterday. And reading it (which I could not help) left me feeling angry and upset.
I will probably exhaust myself writing about it here – but it is too important not to.

It involved an editor from The Lancet making some astonishing comments to ME/CFS sufferers. Then actually blocking some people on twitter – so that they could no longer interact with her and The Lancet. Or be able to read anything she was writing about them, or any other health stuff.

The comment which jumped out at me involved an accusation of bullying. Followed up by a 2nd tweet showing she had no knowledge or understanding about ME/CFS at all.
If I have understood things right, her comments were initially in response to an ME sufferer pointing out inaccuracies in a piece that had been published in The Lancet. And commenting that another publication/magazine/journal had apologised for something – I,m assuming similar inaccuracies.

The 2 actual tweets were :

1st )
” What exactly would we be apologising for?? For having a view? Ridiculous.
You,re bullies ! ”

2nd )
” Chronic Fatigue = polarised field ! We,re entitled to our view as anyone else. Its an editorial !!
Write a letter if you,re that aggrieved ! ”

Gosh.
I mean, where do you start  . . . . ?

I could write so much, but simply don,t have enough energy. So I will just need to make my comments in shortish bullet points.

1) This Lancet editor has less than 1000 followers on twitter – but The Lancet itself has 164,000 twitter followers.

2) People with ME/CFS have a very serious, debilitating condition. In some cases people who have Very Severe ME have to be tube-fed as they are too weak  even to swallow.
Even the most mildly affected often struggle with simple daily activities. That the rest of the world take for granted.

3) We are hardly in a position to be bullies, are we ?
I thought bullying was about having power and control. In this situation – who has this ?
I don,t think it is an ME sufferer or the ME community.

4) Another ME sufferer tweeted :

” Jaw dropping response to chronically ill #MEcfs patients. Many cannot write an email ”

And there were many many other upset, outraged comments too.
Not surprisingly.

5) The ” write a letter . . ” comment really upset me too.

I have a multitude of symptoms to struggle with most days – just like thousands of other sufferers. The “brain fog” symptom has been pretty severe over the last few years in particular. Making writing an email or a letter a very difficult, time consuming and energy-draining task for me a lot of the time. It is difficult physically and also mentally.
I know I have written on this blog over the last few years about how much I was struggling with this. How an email that should take maybe 20 mins would take me 4 hours. And I would pay for it by being wiped out sometimes all the rest of that day. And the next day too sometimes.
etc etc etc . . . .
(A letter can be even harder if you don,t have somebody to post if for you.)
This was the reason I had accumulated such a huge backlog of work, and my business was spiralling out of control.
ie. That I couldn,t even manage to do simple admin tasks most of the time.

And the repercussions of this for me have hit me very hard.
Voluntary Bankruptcy, and the loss of almost everything – now in my 50,s.

So I did feel enraged at a health editor from a powerful health publication making such comments.

Over and out for now.

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Am I getting worse ?

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Its now Jan 2013 and not much has changed. In terms of my day to day life and CFS.
I actually wonder if my health has got a bit worse over the last 2 years. But its hard for me to be objective and measure this clearly.
My head is filled up thinking about work (property) issues and problems. And household problems. And money matters – household and business. And practical problems of so many things I need to do, but haven’t been able to :
eg :
get my hair cut (over 12 months now), visit to dentist (maybe over 2 years), go for breast screening, was due 3 years ago. (have had 3 appointments but wasn’t well enough for any of them).
With all this going on, plus my CFS neurological smptoms of “brain fog” and the “racing brain” (to name just two), this is probably why I haven’t got the ability to tell.
But I am getting more severe and longer-lasting symptoms some weeks. And it seems to  take me longer to recover from my “crashes” each time.
People with CFS and ME will know what I mean by crashes. But for the benefit of others – it is more commonly called post exertional fatigue or post exertional exhaustion. And its nothing like the natural tiredness, or exhaustion, people can feel after a long hard day. Or even after doing something out of the ordinary which been exhausting. Like a marathon run. This tiredness/fatigue/exhaustion is entirely natural and a normal healthy person usually just needs adequate rest to recover from it.
But with CFS and ME it is so much worse.
The level of exhaustion, and severity of  other symptoms, can be very bad indeed. And often totally out of all proportion to the amount of time and energy the person had used. On whatever they were doing. And to make it even harder to control – it can fluctuate from day to day, week to week, etc. (Making planning things often a real challenge, if not impossible at times.)
An example from my day to day life :
I find that I’m often exhausted now after having a shower and may need hours to recover. Not every time but too often.
By “exhausted” I mean – I am too weak and out of breath to be able to do much other than rest. My arms are sore and weak with the effort taken holding them up long enough to shampoo my hair. And my chest is pounding and heart racing. I took my pulse after a shower a while ago – it was 141. This is maybe 2 to 2.5  x  the average rate of a fitter person ?
Yet it was a simple, short and non-stressful activity, done slowly under no pressure.
This makes me wonder how high my heart rate goes when I feel under any major stress.
eg. In November 2012 when relations turned sour with a firm of tradesmen I had used for lots of work in my properties. And spent much money with them. One of the 2 partners turned into a total scumbag and actually threatened voilence against the properties. Saying he would “rip the fittings out of all of them”. Or words similar. And this in writing to me by text message. . . Then a 2nd text message to me confirming it was “a promise, not a threat” . Unbelievable.
Just to add here : I had an ongoing account with this firm and faithfully paid them every month as had been agreed. So I wasn’t in default to them in any way. But I had been raising my dissatisfaction with some of their work, and various broken promises with time-scales etc.
And they just turned nasty.
That week I was in bed almost the entire time – and my worst symptom was feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest. That heavy, weighty feeling.
Just awful.
But I still had to deal with the situation as best I could – from my bed. And not very well admittedly.
Its all over now and these people are out of my life.
But I hate to think that this could have worsened my condition. As I was experiencing so many bad emotions that week – fear, anger, disbelief, frustration, despair. But anger more than anything.
However they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
I certainly hope so  . . .  !

#ME Insults on Twitter

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ME Insults

In my post of 6th Oct I mentioned that the poor treatment of people with CFS or ME was a scandal. And I had mentioned the ME Insults timeline on Twitter. A bit more about this now.
Twitter is marvellous for connecting with people worldwide on endless topics of interest.
Recently someone posted (tweeted) a message suggesting that people share any insults they had received since having ME or CFS. This then quickly expanded to include any comments which were – ignorant, hurtful, nasty, silly or just plain stupid. It was suggested that any replies included #Meinsults in them – so they would be recorded in a separate timeline in Twitter.
And it just took off.
Hundreds of people posted messages – maybe even over a thousand in just a day or two. What started off as a way of sharing and venting frustrations about how folk had been treated became more serious as all the posts (tweets) came thru.  And were read.  Seeing so many examples in black and white of how many people had been treated poorly (by GPs and/or friends, family, relatives) was incredibly shocking. None of it will be news to many people who have had CFS or ME – especially if over a long period of time.  But seeing so many examples in writing somehow made it really hit home.
Some random examples from the #Meinsults timeline as follows :

“You have been unwell for far too long now. Its time my son found himself a new wife.”
(Has got to be one of the most cruel ones.)

“That shooter had something wrong with his head – and you have too.”
(Incredibly from a GP to his patient and referring to a gunman who had shot and killed several people in the city earlier that week.)

There is something wrong with your head.
(A variation of above but from a GP’s receptionist this time. Yes – the receptionist.)

“It doesn’t matter how bad it makes you feel – you must keep doing it.”
(My 1st GP’s view on keeping on exercising on top of working full-time while my health and symptoms got worse and worse.)

Do you not get bored in the house all day ?

We all get tired but we just have to push on.

Maybe you should try to be a bit more positive.

If you bring her back to school tomorrow then we will say no more about it.
(From a head-teacher to the mother of a severely affected pupil.)

I couldn’t be bothered with that.

I’m not the sort of person who would get that.

I don’t really believe in all that.

I don’t think he is really trying to get well.

You really shouldn’t keep him indoors so much – its not good for him.
(From a GP to the mother of a severely affected sufferer who had deteriorated to the extent he was almost bedridden.)

We don’t do home visits for fatigue here.
(A GP surgery refusing to visit a severely affected housebound sufferer.)

This is just a very brief selection.

Some thoughts :
Why is this still tolerated today ? And why do people feel it is ok to speak to sufferers like that ? And would these sort of comments would be made to people with cancer or multiple sclerosis ?

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