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Irish Times May 2nd CFS: An Invisible and Untreatable Illness


Senior Member

Chronic fatigue syndrome: an invisible and untreatable illness
Causes of the condition are not known but some say it comes from viral infections
Tue, May 2, 2017, 07:00
Patrick Kelleher


Patrise O’Hanlon: ‘I did attempt to go back to work last September. I lasted a total of seven days and I went into a big relapse.’

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When Orla Ní Chomhraí was just 23, her life was thrown into turmoil by debilitating exhaustion. Unable to concentrate and struggling to even hold conversations, she sought medical help.

Almost 20 years later, Ní Chomhraí (42) still suffers with the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), the untreatable condition has changed her life. Within six weeks of her symptoms developing, she was diagnosed with the illness. The illness is so debilitating that she often has to use a mobility scooter outside her house.

Ní Chomhraí’s story began when she contracted an infection in the summer of 1998. While the infection went away, the chronic fatigue did not. At the time, she hoped she would recover within a few weeks. Today, she says, she has had to learn to come to terms with her condition.

“It has affected my life hugely,” Ní Chomhraí says. “I haven’t been able to work. I’m very interested in history and I have a degree in it, but I can’t read very much now. I’m not able for it.”
Ontario, Canada
Apologies for voicing a further critique of terminology but I do question whether 'invisible' is a useful term given the battle for recognition we face~ what sort of things are invisible: your guardian angel? Casper the friendly ghost? I find myself prompting new acquaintances by saying, 'An invisible illness is not the same as an imaginary illness' but there's too much sloppy overlap between those words beginning in 'i' in the public mind. The fact that the etiology of the illness is still not visible to lab workers through whatever scientific tools they work with is double-the-obscurity. I don't feel it serves us well to have the 'invisible illness' phrase as a near official subtitle.

Is there more to this term than I'm allowing? Do others resonate with it?