The illness which wrecks lives

Gillian Broughton of Mitchell Road Billinge a victim of ME
Gillian Broughton of Mitchell Road Billinge a victim of ME

A WOMAN who has ME has set up a support group to help other sufferers in St Helens.

Gillian Broughton, 50, of Billinge, was once a fit and healthy woman who had spent most of her career as a carer.

But in July 2009, while on a three-mile walk around Billinge, she suffered a severe attack of vertigo and had flu-like symptoms and after a long period of being misdiagnosed, was finally diagnosed with ME 16 months later.

She said: “I was in pain throughout my entire body and had headaches, dizziness, shaking and hair loss. I was totally bedridden for the first three weeks.

“I was diagnosed with many things, from labrynthitis, anxiety, severe menopause, to being told it is all in my head. The majority of people cannot even attend these appointments due to the unrelenting extreme fatigue,

“There are currently 250,000 people in the UK suffering from this debilitating condition and there are more people with ME than AIDS and MS (multiple sclerosis).

“My son did some research on the internet and got in touch with Invest in ME (IME). They sent lots of information on diagnoses, causes and treatments. I was finally diagnosed after 16 months with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome, (CFS) but doctors are still in the dark.

“Even though this illness was once dubbed the yuppie flu, it is devastating. It affects multi-systems of the body, causing foggy brain, balance, tremors, shaking, dizziness, vertigo and makes you prone to infection and takes the sufferer longer to recover.

“It also causes palpitations, shallow breathing, breathlessness and pains in the chest.

“I, like the many thousands of sufferers, find living with ME a real challenge and am unable to do normal things, as it leaves me exhausted to the point I either have to sit or lie down to recover.

“I feel isolated and abandoned and I am met with discrimination and scepticism as most people with ME look relatively well.”

Gillian wants to help other ME sufferers and has set up a support group every other Friday from 1pm until 3pm at Peter Street Community Centre, in St Helens.

Gillian added: “There is no cure and the treatment which is being offered on the NHS is graded exercise therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.”

For more details contact Gillian on 01744 893530.