By Janelle Miles, The Sunday Mail (Qld).
Ketra Wooding lives in aged care on the Gold Coast.
She’s an articulate, intelligent young woman who once enjoyed the carefree life of a sailor, working on luxury yachts and travelling to exotic places, such as the Galapagos Islands and the Caribbean.
She spent the first half of her twenties on the world’s oceans, but for the past five years the 32-year-old has resided among dementia patients. However, it’s not living with the elderly she finds confronting.
Ketra has been diagnosed with the controversial medical condition chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, or CFS-ME — an illness which cannot be confirmed by a simple blood test, but is estimated to affect 240,000 Australians to varying degrees.
Scientific evidence shows the complex condition, once derided as “yuppie flu” and its sufferers labelled malingerers or hypochondriacs, is biologically based and not psychosomatic.
But the medical profession is divided on how best to treat the mystery disorder.
Some insist on adhering to Australia’s 2002 CFS-ME guidelines by prescribing graded exercise therapy — encouraging patients to slowly increase their physical output — despite suggestions this may be making them worse.
Ketra fell ill in 2010 after developing flu-like symptoms she was unable to shake. At the time she was looking forward to sailing the yacht she was working on back to Europe and had been researching the best ways to get through the Malacca Straits and the Red Sea without being attacked by pirates. But she was too sick to make the trip.
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