We Are Death, Warmed Up

Severe ME

By Paul Tomkins at paultomkins.com.


It is torture, of a kind. The unrelenting jab of needles into the spine. The vice clamped to the temples and tightened. The syringes slowly draining blood from the thighs, injecting concrete into the calves. Poison swelling in the stomach, pumping to the veins, tying knots in the guts.

You shake, but not in terror. Even the twilight is too bright. Movement sets flotsam and jetsam tumbling about the head; simply sitting up can be a struggle – postural hypertension sending you giddy. Sights and sounds take longer to travel to the brain, the neural pathways fogged and furred with white noise and static. You are death, ever so slightly warmed up.

This is M.E. as I sometimes experience it, and I’m not one of those acutely affected. I only occasionally feel this ill – usually after any kind of socialising or travelling, or perhaps following a sleepless night – but for some people this is a daily occurrence; indeed, for many it’s a lot more severe and unrelenting. I’m relatively lucky, in the way that a man who has lost one leg is luckier than a man who has lost two.


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