Long term health conditions

Miriam - Interview 07

Female
Age at interview: 28
Age at diagnosis: 19

Brief outline: Almost ten years ago Miriam was diagnosed with glandular fever and given three courses of antibiotics. Her symptoms didn't improve and she couldn't continue with her university course. It was a homeopathic doctor who suggested she might have developed ME or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It has taken her nine years to feel better again. She says that pacing and the acknowledgement of limitations are important tools for mending.

Background: Miriam is at university doing a Masters degree in English Literature and works part-time as a librarian. She lives at home with her parents. Ethnic background/nationality' British.

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At the age of 19 Miriam was diagnosed with glandular fever and was given three courses of antibiotics. The same year she started her university degree but after a few months she was unable to continue and had to withdraw from the course because she was feeling really tired all the time and not improving. Everyone thought that it was simply taking her a long time to get over the glandular fever. Doctors did not make any other diagnosis.

The constant feeling of exhaustion meant that she stopped doing the activities she enjoyed and her life became more socially limited. She lost contact with many of her friends and was no longer able to do sports. At the time she felt very isolated.

Her mother gave up her job to look after her and was getting very worried about the lack of improvement in her condition. Her mother then took her to see a homeopathic doctor who suggested that she might have developed ME or chronic fatigue syndrome, most probably triggered by the virus that causes glandular fever. Miriam went to see her GP but found out that there is not a diagnostic test for ME.

Once she started feeling a bit better she enrolled herself in a part-time degree course. At that time she was most afraid of been judged by others as being a “freak” because she had to limit herself in the amount of activity she could do in any day. But her co-students were mostly mature people who accepted her and that greatly boosted her confidence. At the time of the interview she was finishing her Masters Degree in English Literature and has began to work part-time as a librarian.

Her mother searched on the web for information about ME and found out about a support group that runs activities for young people with the condition. Despite her doubts she attended their annual conference and says that it was useful to meet other young people who were also affected by ME and who also felt, like she did, “different” to their peers.

It has taken her several years before she has felt fit and well enough to start horse riding again as well as getting herself involved in more social activities. One of the most important things she has learned about overcoming ME is to listen to her body and to avoid getting over tired, by taking the necessary rest and sleep she needs. 

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