'Let me get better, I thought, or let me go, because this is hell'
Published 04/11/2009 | 05:00
Marie Coffey (47) lives in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. She began experiencing ME when she was just 31.
"I had been suffering from chest problems and some bad colds but I just collapsed one day in a friend's house in April 1993. I spent two full years in bed. I couldn't walk, I couldn't move, it was hell.
"My husband Tom had to carry me to the bathroom, and the doctors were telling me to exercise.
"I had been a very active person, I worked, I had two children. Dominic was six and Christina was eight. My son wouldn't remember me as a healthy mammy running around the place. I knew it wasn't psychological. I was pulling my hair out listening to doctors saying, 'Ah Marie, you just have to get up'. I did try but it got to the stage where I couldn't hold a cup.
"I never considered suicide but at one point I did ask God to take me if this was what it was going to be. Let me get better, I thought, or let me go because this is hell. My own mother dismissed me. I remember her looking at me one day and saying: 'Marie, you can't be that bad'.
"I'm still recovering -- it's baby steps. I like to say that ME doesn't manage Marie, Marie manages the ME! I speak to people on the phone, trying to help them go through it. I tell them to listen to their body, and I would beg doctors to listen to their patients.
"My son was a great man with the football -- I used to sit in my car watching him but other days I would be in bed crying because I couldn't go see him. I missed weddings. I missed my mother's funeral. We weren't close but I would have liked to have gone.
"I know now to give the body time to recharge. I meditate, I do stretches and yoga and I practise Emotional Freedom Therapy, which is like acupuncture without needles.
"When you first wake up you can be in burning pain. There is no doubt in my mind it's a virus -- your lymph nodes swell up, you're continuously dehydrated. You feel out of this world, they call it a 'brain fog', like your body has been invaded from outer space.
"I don't think ME should be fobbed off as a psychological problem. I have learned to be assertive and if a doctor doesn't listen to me today I just walk out.
"But I'm a firm believer that if the spirit is good, the body can recover. I have a grandson who is a wonderful boy of seven months. I can't hold him but I can still love him. It was a rough journey but I am thankful for where I am now."