Doctor Does Not Always Know Best

By Angela Tilby in Church Times.

I CAN hardly think of any condition more difficult to cope with than myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Usually the result of a viral infection, it can manifest in many ways, one of the worst being the loss of the ability to be refreshed by rest. I experienced this very briefly once, and it was dreadful. For it to have gone on indefinitely would have been torture.

Over time, many ME patients recover, but others remain disabled — some with fluctuating symptoms, others barely able to function. Doctors find this frustrating, because ME does not fit the medical paradigm whereby a disease is diagnosed from signs and symptoms, and the diagnosis leads to appropriate treatment. I have heard GPs speak irritably of patients with ME with as though they were time-wasters — and patients, who may well be anxious and depressed, are only too aware when they are not being listened to.

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