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Battling illness day at a time
Tuesday 14 July 2009
Slumped on the stairs, heart pounding and legs like jelly, Jeff Gerrard couldn’t move.
For a fit and healthy 27-year-old, it was a terrifying experience – which marked the beginning of a 30-year battle with ME.
“There have been times when I physically couldn’t get out of bed, times when just taking a shower felt like a dream,” explains Jeff, now 56.
“Being totally honest, there have been times when I felt suicidal. I felt like this thing was destroying me and destroying my life . . . I felt there was no way out. And that was too much to bear.”
ME – myalgic encephalomyelitis – is also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A chronic and debilitating illness, it affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, 22,000 in the East of England alone.
A neurological condition, it has many and varied symptoms, from joint pain and headaches to problems with sleeping and eating. The cause of ME is unknown. And there is no cure.
Sitting in the office of his Huntingdon home, reclining in an easy chair, it’s clear that everyday life is a real battle for Jeff.
“Just doing this interview will really take it out of me,” he explains. “I’ll have to be really kind to myself for the rest of the day; I’ll probably go to bed. But I’ve learned – the hard way – to listen very carefully to my body. If I don’t, there will always be consequences . . .”
The full article can be found here.
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