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Mother suffering debilitating condition tells of verbal abuse distress

Wednesday 25 January 2012


From the UK's This Is Somerset:


Emma and Bethany Hall
Emma and Bethany Hall

Mother suffering debilitating condition tells of verbal abuse distress

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Wells disabled mum subjected to harrowing mimicry and taunts from members of the public has made an impassioned plea for tolerance and understanding.

Gemma Hall has fibromyalgia, a debilitating condition which leaves her with chronic and severe pain and profound fatigue.

It affects the 27-year-old’s walking style and she often uses a mobility frame or scooter.

But Gemma’s determination to lead as normal a life as possible for herself – and her eight-year-old daughter Bethany – has been left distressed by the cruel jibes of members of the public.

And she is not alone.

“I attend a support group of people with fibromyalgia and I find that apart from the symptoms we all have, we all have something else in common – and that’s the verbal abuse or comments from the public,” she said.

“We all look fine and well, but we use walking aids, scooters and park in disabled parking bays.

“I myself have verbal abuse every day on the school run and have experienced members of the public mimicking how I walk and calling me names.

“It is humiliating enough as it is without this, and in front of my daughter. It’s just horrid and yes, has left me in tears.

“We bring up our children to not stare, not to make comments or gesture. Yet that is exactly what is happening and by adults.

“I thought that maybe if I shared what I was going through, if people knew what it was really all about they would understand and stop.”

For Gemma the fibromyalgia was triggered after a burst cyst brought on appendicitis, a year ago.

Gemma has referrals to clinics and other specialist services in a bid to attempt to alleviate the symptoms, which are with her 24 hours a day.

Four doses a day of the opiate-based painkiller codeine does nothing to alleviate her pain.

Even on ‘good’ days she has to resort to walking aids and even a mobility scooter due to the fatigue that also prevents her from carrying out household and other tasks.

On a bad day she is incapable of getting out of bed.

Bethany – who she describes as a godsend – helps out with some of the household tasks and even slips into her mum’s bedroom to sleep at the base of her bed when she can tell that her mum is having a bad day.

“I wake up feeling groggy with stiff, weak painful muscles and joints and as my brain does not go through the proper sleep cycle, the effects last all day,” Gemma said.

“When I walk I feel drunk, wobbly and each step is like walking through treacle. I struggle to climb stairs and slopes.

“I also suffer from bloating, IBS, inability to regulate by body temperature, headaches and concentration loss and sometimes have short-term memory loss.

“And the pain is constant: aching, stabbing and burning all at once and no painkillers seem to work.

“This is just some of my day to day life.

“I try to keep upbeat and am lucky enough to have a lot of support from family and friends.

“But life is a struggle enough, without seeing people’s looks, hearing their comments – even to their own children – and even mimicking my walk.

“So please, if you see someone on a scooter or with a stick, perhaps they have a blue badge and have parked in a disabled bay but they look well, don’t assume there is nothing wrong with them.

“Take a minute to think of what pain or suffering they have going on inside them.”

Gemma said she would urge anyone who is suffering such symptoms to contact their doctor and attend the Mendip Fibromyalgia Support Group, for more information contact the national helpline 0844 887 2444.


The above, with comments, originally appeared here.


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