‘I can’t make him better – so I’ll make him laugh’, Yours magazine, 20 March 2012

For the latest issue of ‘Yours’ magazine (20 March-2 April 2012), Rosemary Sandall met up with JOHN and MARIAN DUNHAM, of the Peterborough ME Support Group, for a little piece in her regular ‘Carers in Touch’ column. Here is what Rosemary wrote:

Carer Marian Dunham has a simple motto to help her look after her husband, John. “I can’t make him better so I’ll make him laugh.”

That’s not always easy as John has had ME (myalgic encephalomyeltis or chronic fatigue syndrome) for 25 years. He hasn’t worked since he was aged 36.

The couple had two small children when stress led John (61) to develop ME and Marian (56) admits it hasn’t been easy. “I grieved for the person I married because John is so different now. Of course I still love him just as much and I’ve always supported him.”

John and Marian (who has epilepsy) run a support group for ME sufferers and they know from personal experience that some people don’t believe ME is a genuine illness. “All I’d say to those people is that they should swap places with an ME sufferer for six months and then they’d find out it’s definitely a real illness,” says John.

Marian and John, who live at Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, have learned how to cope by adapting their lifestyle. “My tip for anyone living with ME would be to pace yourself and don’t take on too much; sleep every afternoon and buy a mobility scooter for getting about,” says John.

Marian adds: “We’ve seen ME put a huge strain on relationships bit I know John can’t help it and I’ll always be there for him.”

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