Friday, November 19, 2010

How to be Sick


Imagine you are a high-flying law professor at the height of your career. You have a happy marriage, are involved in the local community, love your subject, and enjoy working with students.

Your socio-economic position is comfortable, and your family relationships are gratifying. In short, life is smiling at you, and you are smiling back.

Then you go to Paris—and everything changes. A mysterious bug floors you. Standing up becomes a struggle, noise bothers you, and you are magnetically attracted to your bed.

Days go by and doctors reassure you it will go away. Except that it doesn’t, and ten years later, you are still bed-bound.

This is the perfect storm that hit Toni Bernhard—and the other 17 million people in the world who are estimated to be suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis (also controversially known as CFS, or chronic fatigue syndrome).

At its worst, this Kafka-esque illness is as debilitating as late-stage cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV—but it is not fatal, and so does not carry the drama (or empathy) associated with them.

There is no cure for it and patients—including children—are largely left to themselves and their families. It can hit anybody, at anytime, anywhere in the world, without any warning.

When doctors are baffled, friends desert you, and your life goes upside-down, where should you turn? Read more>>

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