Why ME sufferer Emma is learning to live again

EMMA Webb s life changed forever without warning. What happened to her could happen to you.

EMMA Webb's life changed forever without warning. What happened to her could happen to you.

The 35-year-old mum from Dunkeswell has spoken to the Midweek Herald in the hope of encouraging other people in her situation to come together, to form a social and support group.

Emma's world was turned upside down in 2008, when she started to display symptoms of ME (chronic fatigue syndrome).

After suffering a chest infection and minor mobility problems, she was looking forward to a family holiday on the Isles of Scilly.

"I have got a fantastic doctor, whom I don't know how I'd have managed without," she told the Midweek Herald.

"But, when I went on holiday, I found I was having trouble moving around, suffered problems with my co-ordination and had panic attacks, which I'd never had before," she said.

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"I wanted my husband to take me home. I thought I was dying."

After blood tests ruled out everything else, Emma had to wait the statutory six months to see a specialist in Exeter.

Specialists confirmed in April last year that she was suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis, a brain disorder - also known as ME and chronic fatigue syndrome.

"It's a horrible illness; terrible. It turns your life upside down," she said. "It came on slowly, but affected my mobility, memory and speech. I also suffered pain in my muscles."

Emma, who now attends the Exeter MS Centre, because the symptoms of ME are similar, says: "You have to forget about the life you had and start a new life. People have been known to recover, but many don't. There is no known cure.

"I am coming to terms with it but, on the days when I can't do anything, I want to scream.

"It's like being locked away."

In spite of her predicament, Emma says having chronic fatigue syndrome has made her appreciate what she has got - a loving and supportive husband in David, 47, and a caring daughter in Katie, 13, a student at Honiton Community College.

"I've got to be positive, because it is like having your whole life taken," she said.

"I don't feel people with ME get enough support. There is no meeting place and that is something I would like to change by speaking out."

Emma says ME is "a very lonely illness".

But she stresses: "I've got a fantastic husband. It's a horrendous thing for him, because he is grieving for the wife he has lost.

"My daughter has become a dab hand at applying my make-up."

If you would like to be involved in the formation of a group for local people with ME, contact the Midweek Herald on (01392) 888488.

l Action for ME can offer advice to sufferers. Visit www.afme.org.uk for further information.