May is the month for raising awareness of all sorts of so-called “invisible illnesses.” I’ve said before what I think of people who can’t see another persons’s cross. Not seeing it, doesn’t make it invisible. The fact that these awareness campaigns are needed irritates me. But hey ce la vie. It’s what Douglas Adams referred to as “Somebody Else’s Problem” the SEP field that made someone invisable.
The one disease that I’ve been thinking about recently is Gulf War Syndrome. The name is a silly label covering the diseases presented, originally, by solders coming back from the Gulf War. I don’t know as much about this illness as I would like to. Like ME it is riddled with controvesy and obvious vested interests. The needs of the sick veterons got kicked way down the priority list.
But one of the good things about injustice, is that it always bites the handler in the end. Meanwhile people with a mixture of serious illnessnes are getting together, supporting one another and pooling resources so that even if there isn’t much research, what there is, can be worth while. These days there is quite a bit of research and a good deal of it is of high quality. (There’s still an astonishing amount of shoddy work being published but the good stuff shines).
Today an International effort is being made by the sick who are well enough and by carers and even some researchers to get some answers. Protests are being organised from Australia and around the world demanding better funding. I’ll never forget reading that in the UK more money is spent researching hayfever than ME.
But groups are getting together and thanks to the massive number of comoribidies that we all seem to have; dysautonomic disorders, gut disorders, bizarre cancers, heart failure… and so on, the more research can be pooled to help us the better.
A number of different paths are being trodden in research and they are proving interesting and hopeful. Anti viral meds are still being tested but for a subset of ME patients in particular they are showing great promise. Sadly, gettingt the FDA to move quickly on this has been impossible. More people are dying while paper is being pushed around with unforgivable slowness.
Cardiomyopathy and cardiac insufficiency theories are looking good for another subset of patients who (if they can get tested) often show mitochondrial dysfunction. When the heart at mito level can’t contain oxygen properly this affects the whole body. It’s a form of heart failure that’s difficult to diagnose (unfortunately) but as heart failure is the leading cause of death in ME, it’s a side of the disease that needs urgent attention.
Research from many chronic diseases including Multiple sclerosis has overlapped with some ME and fibro research showing the ubiquitous Epstein Barr Virus may be the door opener for the diseases. Patients are tested positive for reactivation antibodies and so many of us have a history of more than one serious case of Glandular Fever that this virus is looking good for the root of a lot of our problems. It’s also implicated in Lupus.
Theres good research into methylation and some into endrochronological aspects of our disease.
A lot of time and money has been lost (stolen even) but we can work together and make up for all of that. It is my personal opinion that the reason diseases such as HIV/Aids have received the funding and research needed was that those who became HIV+ in the ’80s were actually well enough to fight the astonishingly bad reaction from the CDC. It also helped – sadly- that some famous people died of AIDS.
People with ME and other similar diseases are very sick right from the start. Even those on the less severe end of the scale suffer serious brain fog, confusion and of course the hideous PEM (post exceptional malaise). The people who die of ME tend to be “ordinary” and therefore not high profile enough to galvanise those in power.
Perhaps there won’t be answers in my life time. But I pray to God, they will be answers. Join me in that prayer.