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Insight into life with an illness

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Living with an illness can have a severe impact on your everyday life.

Next week is ME Awareness Week and Dominique Shipster from Shefford has shared her story.

The 57-year-old is affected by the chronic fatigue condition, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, commonly known as ME.

She wants other people to gain an understanding of what it is like to live with the illness.

Dominique said: “It’s all about pacing oneself. Before my condition I never had to think about the energy I might have to do things.

“After work would happily garden or go for a walk. During lunchtimes I would go to the bank or do my shopping and then go back to work. I can no longer do such things.”

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

Dominique said: “Getting up in the morning is on the whole OK but sometimes after having a bath or shower I have to go back to bed again as this simple task exhausts me.

“At lunchtime I have to lie down for as long as I can.”

ME is a very variable illness with symptoms changing over time and it affects people in different ways and to differing degrees.

Some people make good progress quite quickly, while others can remain ill for a number of years.

Dominique is a practice nurse but has been forced to reduce the number of hours she works since she became ill in November 2012.

She said: “My social life is very limited now. Friends and colleagues have seen someone who was dynamic, energetic reduced to a semi invalid. Many people I know think because I look well there is nothing wrong with me.

“A common comment is that the weather is getting better so that should make a difference! Obviously it doesn’t because my condition is not affected the weather.

“I had five and half months off from work and started working two hours alternative days in May 2013. I am nearly back to full time work which is fantastic to how I first started.”

Action for ME campaigns and invests in research projects as well as offering support to anyone affected

Visit www.actionforme.org.uk to find out more.

 

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