Julie Rehmeyer's 'Through the Shadowlands'
Writer Never Give Up talks about Julie Rehmeyer's new book "Through the Shadowlands: A Science Writer's Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn't Understand" and shares an interview with Julie ...
Discuss the article on the Forums.

Good article about ME/CFS in Ottawa Citizen Newspaper

Discussion in 'Action Alerts and Advocacy' started by Gamboa, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Gamboa

    Gamboa Senior Member

    Messages:
    258
    Likes:
    468
    Canada
    The on-line edition of the Ottawa Citizen Newspaper has a good article about ME/CFS, probably done in preparation for the up-coming IACFS Conference being held here next week. Hopefully it will also be in the written edition so that more people can see it. I have pasted it below:

    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The invisible illness

    Chronic fatigue syndrome can turn a hopeful life like Shelley Shellins into one of suffering and pain. Although the disease is as common as diabetes, it is often misunderstood. It goes under the microscope at a conference in Ottawa in late September.

    By Julie Beun, The Ottawa Citizen September 16, 2011


    For 18 hours a day, Shelley Schellin waits.
    She waits to have enough energy to get out of bed. She waits for her body to stop aching enough to get dressed. She waits for friends to stop by and keep her company during her long, lonely days. But mostly, she waits to restart the life that was stolen from her nine years ago.

    But after nearly a decade of suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), so severe that it literally takes a day to recover from an hour of grocery shopping, the life of the strong, vibrant woman who was preparing for a career in natural medicine is now a stone-cold memory.

    It was a busy, hopeful life, recallsSchellin, 42. I had a small, close circle of friends. I worked, travelled, did normal activities. I loved going to craft shows and taking evening courses. I would go out for dinner with friends and visit my family outside of the city. Now, life is dramatically different. My dreams and goals are gone.

    It sounds like pitiful stuff, and it would be if coming from someone ending a tragic love affair. But for those suffering from CFS/ME, its almost a grotesque understatement.

    Believed to be initially triggered by an infection, virus, vaccination, parasitic infection or reaction to environmental toxins, CFS/ME is more or less a dramatic overreaction by the body that puts it into a state of constant over-vigilance. The majority of people say something like I was at a Christmas party and 20 of us got the flu. Nineteen got better, what happened to me? says Dr. Alison Bested, Ontarios leading expert, author of Hope and Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (Cumberland) and a speaker at next weeks International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Research and Clinical Conference, part of which is open to the public.

    Typified by debilitating fatigue that lasts more than six months, along with muscle pain, aching joints, headaches, poor memory or post-exercise malaise, CFS/ME has no cure and can span a lifetime. In fact, according to an antipodean study of patients suffering from infections such as Red River Fever and mononucleosis, 10 years after the infection, 10 per cent had developed CFS/ME.

    And its on the rise. While more than 500,000 Ontarians currently suffer from one of three related conditions CFS/ME, fibromyalgia or multiple chemical sensitivity nationally, Statistics Canada says reports of CFS/ME in the past five years have increased by an astonishing 24 per cent. Nor are they getting much help. Due to lack of knowledge about CFS/ME within the medical community, there are few specialists; Bested is one of a handful of Canadian doctors focusing in the area. Yet she is so overloaded, she had to close her private practice and now sees patients only at Torontos Environmental Health Clinic at Womens College Hospital.

    Its as common as diabetes, yet from a Ministry of Health perspective, its not even on the list of chronic diseases, she says, pointing out that disability pensions can be very difficult to obtain. Its an invisible illness. I think in terms of patient populations, theyre getting sicker over time, because patients dont take it seriously at first, since were taught to push through exhaustion and exercise more. But with this condition, youll literally push yourself into a crash.

    Schellins life unravelled after she developed a stomach infection several years ago. She lost weight, then noticed muscle pain and severe fatigue that never seemed to go away, no matter how many hours she spent in bed. Her doctors had no answers, and it wasnt until she began to see environmental health specialist Dr. Jennifer Armstrong that the pieces fell together. The only U.S. board certified specialist in Ottawa environmental medicine isnt recognized in Canada Armstrong currently has a three-year waiting list for new patients.

    Part of the problem lies in how extensive a medical history must be to put together the triggers, symptoms and treatments. After two to three hours of taking a history, Armstrong literally has a checklist. Patients are told to clean up their living conditions everything from getting rid of mould, carpets, paint cans, harsh cleaners, newspapers and other allergens to moving if they live under cellphone towers.

    In many cases, an elimination diet that cuts out things like dairy, sugar, gluten and tap water is tackled next. In the meantime, we do blood tests and look for vitamin deficiencies, any metabolic abnormalities and thyroid function, she says.

    We look for evidence of infections like H. pylori or Epstein-Barr, which can be treated with anti-bacterials in the former case and anti-viral medication in the latter.

    From then on, its a case of wait, wait, wait and see. If you see a cause and effect through the timeline, sometimes, things are quite clear and sometimes theyre not. Sometimes, a light bulb goes on, like the patient had their apartment sprayed for bugs 10 years ago, she says. Its a puzzle and its interesting to put it together. Some patients want to puzzle it out and some are just too sick.

    For patients without access to the limited number of specialists, however, the case is more dire. And it is costly, since many of the tests and potential treatments are not covered by OHIP since there is no single diagnostic test for the condition. For example, measuring elevated cytokines signalling molecules critical to the immune system can more accurately assess inflammation, but the test is currently used for research purposes only.

    Ive tried just about everything thats come my way, admits Schellin. The really difficult part is that youve lost your financial stability and youre looking at alternative treatments that arent covered and are extremely expensive. If you can manage to try it, you end up in a situation where you have to rely on the goodness of your family to pay for these treatments.

    The burden of health to Canada is even greater: based on a study by the U.K.s Sheffield Hallam University, the bottom line cost to the Canadian economy is about $3.5 billion annually, while a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study estimated that the loss of productivity per affected person is roughly $20,000.

    Yet Bested remains hopeful that someday soon, all that will change. Recent U.S. research has linked CFS/ME to a potential retrovirus; the fallout is that the Red Cross and Canadian Blood Agency no longer accept blood from those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

    This was a real step in recognizing this as a physical illness, says Bested, who adds that the Australian research linking CFS/ME to things like mononucleosis show its an acquired physical problem. If it affects cell membranes and punches holes in them, well, guess what? Anything in your body could be affected. Its a deregulation of the immune system.

    Its a small comfort to Schellin, who spends her days so crushed by fatigue and inertia, she says shes entirely focused on survival. When I look back at my teen years, my attitude was why would I want a day off when I can be making money? Now I cant even relate to that. I look normal, even healthy. But I feel like my life is passing me by.
    Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

    Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/health...ible illness/5413580/story.html#ixzz1Y9m0d4tr
     
  2. mellster

    mellster Marco

    Messages:
    804
    Likes:
    189
    San Francisco
    Wow - great find. Thanks, this is a good piece of information to send around.
     
  3. Boule de feu

    Boule de feu Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,115
    Likes:
    66
    Ottawa, Canada
    Thank you to Julie Beun!... And you, Gamboa! ;-)

    I hope we will meet next week.
     
  4. Gamboa

    Gamboa Senior Member

    Messages:
    258
    Likes:
    468
    Canada
    Hooray!!!! It's in the printed newspaper today, the Saturday edition. I hope my friends, neighbors, doctors, past co-workers, insurance company and family will see it, especially the ones who don't understand what has happened to me. I like that Dr. Bested was mentioned since she was the doctor I went to for my diagnosis.

    Looking forward to meeting you next week, Boule de feu.

    Gamboa
     
  5. LaurelW

    LaurelW Senior Member

    Messages:
    584
    Likes:
    211
    Utah
    I didn't like the statement about the illness being autoimmune, but I thought the rest of it was pretty good. Way to go!!
     
  6. fla

    fla Senior Member

    Messages:
    234
    Likes:
    45
    Montreal, Canada
    Moving away from cell phone towers can help?
     
  7. Boule de feu

    Boule de feu Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,115
    Likes:
    66
    Ottawa, Canada
    This article makes me proud to be an Ottawa-rian! LOL

    Many friends of mine will e-mail ME this article, and say: "Have you seen this? It was in the Ottawa Citizen, today." And I'll go: "Really?" ;-)
     
  8. Boule de feu

    Boule de feu Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,115
    Likes:
    66
    Ottawa, Canada
    No. Only if you are electrosensitive.
     

See more popular forum discussions.

Share This Page