BBC Radio 4, Friday July 27

Leo, Rusty and ME – Leo Thomson’s audio diary

11.00-11.30am, BBC Radio 4 FM.

Leo, Rusty And ME is the moving, true story of 11-year-old Leo Thomson and his struggle with ME – myalgic encephalomyelitis – and the irreverent audio diary he kept during his treatment and eventual recovery.

Leo is one of 25,000 children who are annually diagnosed with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Leo discovered he had the illness after a visit to the cinema while recovering from a chest infection. Having watched a movie, as the lights went up, he tried to get out of his seat, but could not move. Every muscle in his body hurt, every ounce of strength had left him and he could not swallow properly.

Leo was referred to a paediatric consultant who organised a team to monitor and treat him. This team included an occupational therapist, a nutritionist and an expert in child mental health, psychiatrist Dr Sebastian Kraemer. One of the first things Dr Kramer got Leo to do was to come up with a name for his malfunctioning body as a way of learning to "detach himself" from the pain and disability. Leo chose "Rusty".

Leo, and "Rusty", were asked to keep a diary to monitor progress and observe the pattern of their illness. Leo decided to keep an audio diary. Leo, Rusty And ME tells the story of Leo’s difficult journey towards recovery and includes contributions from his friend Curtis, his parents, his doctors, tutors, nutritionist, his younger sister, Holly-Ella, and even his fat cat, Moggie.

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