So is it a "modern" illness? Well not going by a good few of the books I have read, they at times talk about localised epidemics around the middle of the last century. I don't know if I can agree, at least on these parts with those books, but hopefully their authors did do proper research before putting pen to paper. My cynicism comes from the fact that M.E. is not like a cold or stomach bug that you can pass on to other people, so how could you get a localised epidemic? Maybe these people did have some sort of illness that M.E. emulates but I don't think it was M.E. and if it was, why are we not more aware of it, after all an epidemic is not something that is usually forgotten about. Or was it just a case of "we cant find anything that's written in our medical books, so there must be nothing wrong with you" syndrome. This line of thought unfortunately still seems to apply in modern times, in some places. Gulf War Syndrome springs instantly to mind here, the startling thing is when one hears somebody telling their symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome, it sounds like they are describing the exact same symptoms that many M.E. sufferers have. Are the powers that be aware of this? probably not. Not because they haven't been told, but because it's much easier for them to stick their head's in the sand and hope it goes away.
One thing that seems to be occurring more and more just recently is the number of children getting M.E. When I was first diagnosed with M.E. I was told that I fell into the most likely age bracket to get it. In my early 30's, and with an active, busy lifestyle. But more and more there are young children getting it, not only teenagers but young primary school children. How their parents cope with that I don't know, as it must be hell having a child who is always ill and you don't know why. Some cynic might say that they are making it up just to get off school. I would say to the cynic, you don't know what your talking about. Young children, some confined to wheelchairs, others not having the energy to do anything at all, some bedridden, never getting outside to play, never wanting to play with their friends, some not even playing indoors because they don't have the energy and just want to sleep and be left alone. The authorities not listening to the parents, accusing them of putting the illness into their children's heads, (it does happen) social workers wanting to remove children from their parents, accusing the parents of neglecting their children. And all because of an illness that we know very little about. Why is it affecting children more now than before? is it caused by chemicals and pollution in the air? I don't know, but it is a worrying trend.I will take the opportunity here to mention AYME or the Association of Young People with ME to give it it's full title, as it is an ideal place to visit for children and their families who are affected with M.E. lots of information including contact and advice for parents.
There must be treatment for M.E. surely? No sorry there's not. Yes people get medication while they have M.E. but it's not for the M.E. itself, it's for all the symptoms that they have because of their M.E. and how it affects them. Some pills for the pains, some pills for the migraines, some pills for the stomach and bowel problems, anti-depressants to help you get through the day, sleeping (oh the irony) pills to get you through the night.
There are of course those who believe that alternative medicine is the answer, the use of Aloe Vera and such like is often mentioned and recommended by people who have M.E. Fine if you can afford them, and if you think that they help, then do use them. I must admit to being a bit of a cynic when it comes to alternative medicines and think that they are nothing more than placebo's, in other words you convince yourself that they are helping and thus they must be, but it's more than likely that you are just having a "good spell" and it will be short lived. Apologies to anybody who uses or administers these alternative medicines, homeopathy or what other guise you would like to give it, this is purely my opinion and I have no wish to offend.
What is the future for those of us with M.E. then? Well I think a cure is a long way off, how can you fight against an enemy you don't know and cant see. Getting the medical establishment to actually agree as to what M.E. is would probably help, getting the Dr's who dismiss it, to at last acknowledge that M.E. is an illness would be beneficial, but idiots will unfortunately prevail in every part of society, and all we can do is to try to educate them. The main aim of people with M.E. is to get noticed and let people know what it is and how it affects them. Getting government's and benefit agencies to actually acknowledge that M.E. is a debilitating illness and it's "victims" need help, both medically and financially. The message is getting across slowly, but at times we come up to, and can't get passed that brick-wall, and as most of us are too ill to do otherwise we only get so far and it is left to our partners and/or families to carry on, and they themselves are "victims by association" of M.E. just as much as the patient. We need the help of everyone in society to make people more aware of M.E. and help us get through that brick-wall.
Come the 12th of May each year it is M.E. Awareness Day. Get a blue ribbon and wear it, and if anyone asks you what it is for make sure you tell them. If we do then maybe, just maybe, people will start to notice and understand about this illness.