Angela Tilby on Radio 4 “Thought for the day” covers ME/CFS

January 12, 2022


Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford, talked about Long Covid, then ME/CFS. The full transcript is shown below and the programme can be listened to on the BBC site from the link below. Thought of the day starts at 1.48.20.

Transcript 

00:00:17 Presenter 

12 minutes to 8 now. Time for thought for the day. The speaker is Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. 

00:00:24 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 
 
Good morning, as we hope that omicron infections may be slowing down, we shouldn't forget the more than a million people suffering from long COVID with more than a third of them for over a year, unbelievable fatigue and a host of other symptoms. Some recover fully over time, but there are many who feel they're no longer the person that they were. 

00:00:46 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 
 
There's something in our culture which can't accept this. We tend to value ourselves and to be valued by what we do this little recognition, these say is that even with ordinary illnesses, it takes time to recover. Convalescence is important. 

00:01:00 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

Dealing with acute illness and saving lives is a priority, of course, but people who remain ill also deserve physical support. They need money spent on research and treatments and they need to be understood. Those who suffer from M.E or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are all too familiar with bad advice being told. Their suffering is all in the mind. Or being cajoled onto exercise programmes which often make them worse. 

00:01:25 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

Many doctors are at a loss with these patients because they feel they can't do much for them and they like the rest of us, work from a paradigm in which problems are there to be solved so long. COVID presents us with a moral and spiritual challenge. 

00:01:39 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

For those experiencing long term illness, says a natural grief at the loss of capacity and the struggle to adjust to a different and more limited life. Offer it up. Christians used to say sometimes and I used to laugh cynically at that, especially when I found written on a 1930’s postcard in a convent in leafy Kensington. Offer it up for the conversion of a labourer upper class piety at its worst. 

00:02:04 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

But it's not always bad advice to anyone suffering to try to accept the pain of the loss, and even maybe to offer it to God. Perhaps we are meant in some way to bear each others burdens. In 1982 the Anglican priest, WRH Vanstone, wrote a book called the Stature of Waiting, in which he said: 
 
“There are phases of life when we are agents of our destiny and passive phases in which we're not, both matter.”  

00:02:40 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

The first half of the gospel story is full of action. As Jesus preaches, teaches, heals, travels and challenges the authorities. But then in the second half, the verbs go into the passive as Jesus becomes an object, he was betrayed, arrested, tried, crucified. And yet it sees passive events were told, which brings salvation to the human race. 

00:02:54 Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral 

Those with long COVID and other similar conditions are not useless. They should not be ignored. In the end, they may provide medical knowledge and practical wisdom which could benefit all of us. 

00:03:06 Presenter 

Angela Tilby, with her thought for the day at 9 minutes to 8. 

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