M, M E and Me.

More than a month since I received the Covid vaccine. I notice, as we go for local walks, that people who stroll past us seem more relaxed than they have been for over a year. Few people, at least in this locality, wear masks any more. Add to that the fact that for the first time in weeks (wet weeks,) we were able to stroll along the section of the Dollis Valley walk that is closest to our home – and I would say there is reason for reasonable optimism. The mud is drying nicely, is what I meant.

And that is to say, given our ages – 76 and almost 76 – we can return to what was the status quo last year. Living with an awareness of our ages, and alert to changes in body and stamina that may or may not point to health problems of past present or future….but otherwise with no unnecessary anxieties.

Jeff has mobility problems due to calcification of the spinal cord in his neck. It affects his walking. And I have the ever-present need to be careful how far and fast I walk – given my history of M E. And today I was made aware, for the umpteenth time, how beyond the condition itself ( have I mentioned my memoir, available on Amazon? M E and Me. Google Deborah Freeman Amazon M E and Me..) I have to deal with the problem of how to talk about it.

Why is this now, and has it frequently been in the past, a problem? A person phones to whom we haven`t spoken for years, and said person asks how we both are. The problem arises. I explain that for the last 2-3 years, following a cold, I have been affected by the same phenomenon as in my two previous episodes of ` M E.` (There is still the qualifying comment, I find myself making it, particularly if I`m talking to anyone who is either a GP_, or has a partner or close relative who is one. Instead of `M E,` I say `M E or whatever it is.` )

Because the truth is, our local GP practice does its very best. But out in the world, I have not yet encountered a GP, or anyone close to one, who can say something kind, sensible, and appropriate when I describe the fact that if I walk too far one day, I can be hit with extreme post-exertional malaise, (as they call it,) the next day. Go figure.

If only people could hear the story – the one in the previous paragraph, and say, (as do the really good friends, and most relatives,) `That`s a shame. Wish you better.` Or `Bad luck. Hope you stay fine in the coming year.` Anything, anything, please except that resounding silence down the phone line, or in your zoom face onscreeen. It plain isn`t kind, and it isn`t fair.