In 1986 I was 46 years old, with three children in their teens and early twenties, and had a part-time job. It was a happy busy life. In February I began to feel incredibly tired and weak. During the previous year a series of dramatic and demanding things had happened and I realise now that my body was saying enough is enough. Although at the time, I just kept bashing on.
My total exhaustion continued and my doctor asked me if I had enough interests! After 5 months a consultant at The Western General said he knew exactly what it was as his wife and son had it too. However I received no label for the illness, or advice for its management. Early on I discovered that trying to swim my way to health (in case it was depression) was not a good idea, as it resulted in 8 months of extreme exhaustion, when I was able to get out of bed for only two hours per day.
Around 1986 an article in The Observer by Sue Finlay, describing her own, and similar experiences, was the most helpful thing and was the start of the M.E Associations. Their magazines were a lifeline, and you quickly realised that you were not alone. During the following 18 years, thanks to good support from my husband, I existed the best way I could mostly by pacing myself when possible.
In 2003 an old friend sent me a newspaper cutting about Reverse Therapy, which I read and, stupidly, threw it away! I think it was very difficult to accept that there was such a relatively simple solution to an illness that took our lives away from us. A short time later our local M.E self help group invited Dr David Mickel to a meeting about Reverse Therapy. A young friend and I decided to put our names on the waiting list. The waiting time for Dr Mickel was around three months but after about two months I was offered an appointment, not with Dr Mickel but with another therapist, I was dismayed but was reassured that if I was not happy with my consultation, I could wait for Dr Mickel.
Well, the other therapist was Kathleen Haden – how lucky am I!
I first saw Kathleen in April 2004. She was perfect for me. Although, after my first meeting I did go home and write down all the reasons why it might be a con! After years of trying various things, it’s natural to be overly sceptical and wary, so all credit to Kathleen as I may not have been the best customer! Her questions are not intrusive, but she has to find out enough about you to know the type of person you are and what you have dealt with in your life. After that it is working together to find the way forward. It is a leap of faith because it is a new technique. I had four one hour sessions with Kathleen, sometimes I cried but more often I laughed, but the third visit I was improving and the fourth was the last, and I was better!
It is almost impossible to put into words the joy felt at being well again, and to be part of life. How wonderful it was to be able to be impulsive. To sledge down a hill, knowing you could walk back up again. So many little things were magic, even washing up!
Most important of all for me, was that I could fully help with and enjoy my young grandchildren. Until meeting Kathleen, I had managed by resting when the children slept, but they were getting bigger and soon would not be sleeping during the day, so I became well in the nick of time!
Such a speedy change in my health was wonderful for me but I think a little disconcerting for those around me. My husband, who had been a kind and unstintingly supportive carer, suddenly had that role removed, and I think he found it difficult to comprehend that by talking to Kathleen I was better. The may be a problem too for anyone who has been so ill for a long time. One day, soon after I was better, I was in my daughter-in-law’s kitchen and noticed she was sitting alone on the swing outside. It was then I realised that I was a different person from the one she was used to. We have talked about that since and I am glad to say are still good friends and I love her a lot. My children, who all had helped me so much, must have had to adapt to a more, should I just say, energetic mother!
I have been well for eight years now thanks to Kathleen and Reverse Therapy. I went back to Kathleen once about three years ago, but now I recognise the warning signs, if they come, and she taught how to deal with them. That gave the control back to me.
I do hope my story will help someone who is coping with problems and fatigue, so that they too may regain their strength and benefit from Reverse Therapy. I feel so very lucky.