How did you find out that you had ME? What were the symptoms?
It was my 18th Birthday in October. I crashed out with something that they thought was glandular fever, but the tests were negative.
Then I was involved in a car accident in December, just around Christmas time. And then in February, I crashed completely. I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t stand up, couldn’t do anything; as if my central nervous system said, “I’ve had enough.”
I went with my parents to the doctor, who started to talk about post viral fatigue, and I ended up going to the hospital, where they diagnosed ME. Except for the hospital appointment, I have no memory at all from February to June.
The early symptoms are uncontrollable nausea. I couldn’t keep anything down, not even water. I was dizzy, so I fell down the stairs twice. I was sleeping something like 22 hours out of 24 hours a day. Sleep was non restorative, so I would wake up as tired as when I went to sleep.
I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t read. I couldn’t cope with noise and sunlight. Cricket and snooker were the only things I could cope with on TV, because it was a static picture.
When I was particularly bad, I had a friend who would read “Thomas the Tank Engine” to me and “Asterix,” because I could look at the pictures.
Did you have any kind of treatment?
Only symptomatically, because there was no treatment. So I had something to stop me having dizzy spells and something to stop me feeling nauseous. I had starflower oil and vitamins, because I couldn’t assimilate enough.
So, as a christian, how did it affect your faith?
I was told by lots of well meaning christians that I would get really close to God. The opposite happened. He was miles away. My faith went on hold.
I couldn’t actually cope with it, because I couldn’t particularly cope with human relationships, either. So my God relationship… I knew he was there, but that didn’t do anything, if I’m honest.
I understand your healing was gradual, and you had people praying for you. Can you describe how it happened?
People in our church were praying for me quite a lot in the background. Only a very few people would pray with me in person, because I couldn’t cope with people.
I can remember sitting at the dining table and saying about prayer, and moaning that I wasn’t healed. And my Dad said, “The first question that Jesus is gonna ask you is: What do you want me to do for you? And then: Do you want to be well?”
And I said, “Of course I do.” But it made me really question whether that was true, because at the time I had benefits coming into my bank account, and I was sitting doing nothing, while everyone else was running around for me. And it was only because of this question from Jesus: “Do you want to be well?” that I decided actually I was quite happy as I was.
Then God highlighted the beggar at the Temple Gate Beautiful. (This story can be found in Acts 3 in the Bible). God said to me, “You’re this beggar.” That was the beginning of my healing, because I genuinely realised I was better off well and out in the world, earning my own money, and being able to move around. That’s what turned it around, because my faith levels started to grow.
I was able to return to college, gradually increasing the hours, and then start work for 16 hours a week, gradually increasing to full time work. With the exception of a couple of relapses, where I had to stop and then start work again gradually, I was generally doing pretty well.
The most heartfelt prayer was that I would know when it was done. We were at a church service, and there was a friend there, who had MS, (multiple sclerosis), and we had been praying for her healing.
I happened to be leading worship at the time, and I said, “God can heal you of MS, because he’s healed me of ME.” As I said it, I realised that was the final bit – the completion – and I knew that I was done, that healing had happened.
I’ve never had any issues since then. I am perfectly well, none of the symptoms have ever returned, and I’ve been working ever since. Mentally, I’ve had to readjust, because my life was like that for so long.
How long were you ill with ME?
Approximately 9 years. Acute symptoms for approximately 3 years.
And how long have you been well?
Over 13 years.
What would you say to somebody who is suffering from ME / CFS right now?
That God can certainly sort it out. That it is not his will for you to be sidelined. It is not his plan for you to be so washed out and so taken out, that you can’t do what you’re put on this earth for. That being healed and being able to walk outside is utterly possible. That God can do it, because he’s done it. You need to agree with him that it’s possible.