The degree of the illness and symptoms can vary from person to person and so too can they vary within the sufferer, depending on the levels of stress to the body and/or mind. Some sufferers are able to work; some are housebound; and some are even bedbound and need physical assistant with the most basic of tasks such as: changing clothes, preparing meals and even going to the toilet. The illness may affect a person for just a few years or it may be decades.
With medical conditions like ME also being what may be called a ‘hidden disability’, the truth is that the lack of awareness amongst the public, the medical profession and Government about the illness, leaves most sufferers and their families to ‘deal with it’ themselves in whatever way they can afford. This can be as stressful as living with the illness itself and can regularly make symptoms even worse.
Increasing awareness and understanding is absolutely crucial in support of ensuring adequate funding is made available at Government and local authority levels. Within this context, Shona will also be talking about how the work of the Optimum Health Clinic (a private Clinic treating ME sufferers) have made a huge positive difference to her own mental and physical state in just a few months of starting their on-line computer course; and will be assisting them with their own fundraising for a very significant undertaking that they are also launching in May.
‘The irony is’ states Shona ‘ if Governments accommodated for the need properly, it would actually save taxpayers money in the long-term because sufferers can fully recover or their health may at least improve sufficiently to a point where they may be able to work and once again be able to contribute to the economy and thus the Treasury’. Health Services, Social Security, Housing and other Departments would then save money in the long-run. This is undoubtedly a major issue that politicians are always apparently concerned about – making savings! ‘The bottom line is that with adequate funding for support and greater research quality of life can be significantly enhanced’.
Shona is very passionate about pushing this subject in to the position of public and Government awareness it so deserves and to where sufferers have waited for, for far too long. In essence - to achieve official recognition that ME is as serious as many far better understood debilitating illnesses which as a consequence, receive more appropriate levels of political backing for the funding of public service provision and research. For this reason, she feels it necessary that it should be a person who has the illness to make this point - and do it in a big way.
As Shona states: ‘This is what I wish to play my part in by undertaking this marathon walk; and by talking about the realities of ME to all and anyone willing to listen - not least national and local media who have so much potential to force those in positions of power to take note. ME is very real and at present it is ruining a lot of lives, which with greater awareness and funding could be made so much better'.