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Sarah Baldock, 19, talks of her experience of Myalgic Encephalopathy

Saturday 22 May 2010

Sarah BaldockUK newspaper the York Press has a profile of teenager Sarah Baldock (pictured):

Sarah Baldock, 19, talks of her experience of Myalgic Encephalopathy

8:28am Wednesday 12th May 2010

WHEN Sarah Baldock went to her local polling station last week to vote for the first time, it was a far bigger milestone than for most teenagers.

“A year ago, I couldn’t have got there,” said 19-year-old who lives off Heslington Lane, Fulford, York. She was pushed to the community centre in a wheelchair by her sister, Helen.

“It would have been too exhausting. I went for more than a year without even going into the garden. For months, I couldn’t get out of bed.”

The former Fulford School pupil suffers from the debilitating condition ME, and she was speaking publicly about it for the first time because she wants people to understand a little more about how illness affects her and an estimated 250,000 other sufferers nationwide.

Sarah said until the autumn of 2005, she was as fit and healthy as any other 14-year-old.

“I played flute at school and on Saturday mornings at the York Performing Arts Centre. I did PE at school like anyone else.”

Then one evening she went to bed feeling exhausted, and suffering from a headache and sore throat. The next morning she woke up with her glands swollen. A friend had glandular fever and Sarah suspected she had it as well, but thought that within a few days or weeks, she would make a full recovery.

Instead, four months later, she was still utterly exhausted and she was referred to a paediatrician at York Hospital. Various blood test results all came back negative, and through a process of elimination, ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) was diagnosed.

Relief at finally finding what was wrong was swiftly tempered by the realisation there was no treatment within conventional medicine. As well as exhaustion, Sarah also had aching muscles and joints, could not stand bright lights, had difficulty concentrating and had poor memory.

Even part-time schooling became impossible after the illness worsened, leaving her housebound and she received home tutoring instead – one hour per day. Anything more left her too exhausted. She took several GCSEs at home with her own invigilator, managing to achieve an A grade and four Bs.

But after her condition suddenly deteriorated in the spring of 2008, she left the sixth form.

“I had to focus on my health,” she said.

Since then, she has made steady progress, achieving key targets, such as getting downstairs for the first time and going out in her wheelchair.

In the long run, she hopes scientists will find a treatment or cure. In the meantime, she takes each day as it comes, setting herself new goals. Her next aim is to go into the city centre to visit the shops for the first time in more than two years.

Sarah says she has been helped enormously by keeping in touch on the internet with other ME victims via the charity AYME (the Association of Young People with ME), which provides help and support for sufferers and their families. She emails other sufferers across the country to provide support, and she says any young person with ME is welcome to join by going to ayme.org.uk

The article originally appeared here.

 


 

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