From the South Wales Evening Argus, 7 May 2010 (Story by Elizabeth Perkins)
FOR 15 years David Cox has been suffering with an illness which has blighted his life. Before the 68-year-old was struck down with ME – otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome – he had worked as a nurse in the NHS for 30 years.
But after taking three weeks to overcome a bout of chicken pox, when he was aged 53, his life was changed forever. Instead of being active he had constant bouts of fatigue and the condition has led him to become wheelchair-bound.
Mr Cox, who lives in Gwyr Road in Penyfan, Llanelli, said it took an entire year for doctors to diagnose him with the illness.
He said: “Anyone who got chicken pox at the age I did would have had an awful time. I couldn't shake off the fatigue. My doctor said he thought I had ME but I wasn't diagnosed for a year.
“I had to go to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, for a proper diagnosis and I had to be referred to Essex as well.”
He added: “Most of ME is caused by another type of illness.”
Mr Cox said beforehand he had suffered back problems for years linked to his
duties as a nurse. But he revealed there were days when he was bed-ridden by the condition.
He added: “I have pains in my joints and profound and overwhelming fatigue. It's really difficult – you are unable to clean your teeth without it being painful to do.
“Many have a wheelchair because of this illness.”
He has lifted the lid on living with ME to help efforts this month to generate greater awareness.
Mr Cox said more often than not his day saw him wake in agony.
“My normal day sees me wake at 5am with a lot of pain,” he said. “By the morning I take my first dose of painkillers but sometimes two hours later I have to go back to bed.
“If I am fine about 10ish I like to paint pictures but I haven't been able to do that in the last couple of days.”
The debilitating disorder is defined by persistent fatigue unrelated to exertion and accompanied by the presence of other specific symptoms for a minimum of six months.
The disorder is also referred to as post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), when the condition arises following a flu-like illness, and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). The origin is still unknown and there is no laboratory test to diagnose the
Mr Cox said that although more people were becoming aware of ME, not everyone understood the full impact of the condition.
“Living with the condition is dreadful – but now people are becoming more aware of ME than they have in years,” he said.