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[p]I have decided to do the Ride London Surrey 100 mile ride this year in support of Action for M.E, following first hand experience from my wife Swee-Fong being diagnosed with CFS/ME. The condition is not well understood or supported by the medical profession, it is difficult to diagnose and treat and yet has a life changing impact on those affected. More research and support is required for those suffering.[/p][p]Swee-Fong has kindly shared her story below. [/p][p][b][u] M.E. & ME – SUMMER 2018[/u] By Swee-Fong Wharton[/b][/p][p]I had no real understanding what M.E. was till recently, after I had suffered badly from the symptoms for more than two years. I have fluctuating symptoms such as extreme fatigue after mental or physical exertion; debilitating muscle pain for no apparent reason; uncomfortable problems related to my digestive system; regular flu-like symptoms due to an acquired immune system dysfunction; and regular spells of “brain fog” during which my cognitive ability is so low that I find it hard to think straight, even about the most mundane of domestic tasks. The fluctuating nature of the symptoms makes the illness very difficult for most people to understand. At times, I can appear perfectly normal when I am well enough to be seen and heard, and my symptoms, by and large, are quite invisible when they are not too severe.[/p][p]Sometimes, when I have tried to function normally for too long, I suffer a neurological attack that feels like being hit on the side of the head with a baseball bat - but without the pain and actual physical trauma. The room will spin dramatically, and I am often nauseous. It can take me up to a few weeks to recover from such an attack. After the latest incident, I can no longer read easily and I now find it difficult to look at a computer screen for too long. [/p][p]After a series of medical tests which began in the winter of 2015, I was diagnosed, through a process of elimination, with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – another name for M.E. Approximately 250,000 British people have been diagnosed with M.E./CFS and potentially 15-30 million people are suffering worldwide with the symptoms - yet many people on the street still assume that M.E. is some kind of psychological problem brought on by mental stress. This misconception probably arises from M.E. being rebranded as CFS in the 1980s and being given the derogatory nickname “Yuppie Flu” by the media. The result is that many people suffering from M.E. tend to keep quiet about their medical condition, suffering quietly at home, just simply “missing” from the regular flow of normal life. [/p][p]M.E. actually stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – to describe pain (myalgia), accompanied by inflammation in the brain and spinal column, possibly triggered by a viral infection. There is currently no clear method of diagnosis (except by eliminating all other possible causes), no clear understanding as to the causes of M.E. or why people suffer such a wide spectrum of symptoms with so many different levels of severity. All I can really tell you for sure is that I have had to live with my M.E. symptoms, at varying levels of severity, for far too long now. [/p][p]I have been inspired to be more open about my medical condition after watching the recently released documentary “Unrest” directed by Jennifer Brea, a very brave young woman who suffers from M.E. herself. Her film is available on Netflix and I would urge people to watch it for a clearer understanding of what it means to have M.E.[/p][p]In some ways, and for most of the time, I count myself lucky. I was already 50 when I started suffering badly from M.E. symptoms. I am a Chartered Accountant (now retired on medical grounds), a University Graduate, met my husband young, raised a family (we have two delightful adult children), and lived a full and active life before the worst of the M.E. symptoms hit me in 2015. At other times, it is hard not to rail at the injustice of it all – having to “retire” so early – not just from working life but also from regular social, leisure and physical activities. [/p][p]I am coping, but my symptoms could continue to get worse without medical intervention, so I welcome any progressive medical research in this field. My husband Pete has been solid as a rock in supporting me throughout my illness. He is going the extra mile (100 miles actually!), cycling to raise funds for the charity “Action for M.E.” in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on 29thJuly 2018. It would be wonderful if you could donate something, however small, on his Virgin Money Giving page. [/p][p]Thanks for reading, and if you are supporting us – thanks for your donation too![/p]