By Penny Clare

Penny-start

“I stayed alone in the darkness and the impossible became possible” – anon

Penny-sheet1

The bedsheets take flight I

I was mostly confined to bed in a dark room – for years, and years, and years.

At some point, in this isolated sea, I started taking photos. From my bed, in the dark. And my relationship to my illness and circumstances took on a different meaning and found creative expression. It was my way of creating movement.

The vast majority of my photos were shot with no artificial or natural daylight, though daylight was occasionally gleaned from a small opening or crack in the curtains or door.… Read More

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Ahead of the December 23rd deadline for public comment on the proposed IOM panel to create clinical diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS, Gabby Klein reviews the continuing opposition to the HHS/IOM Contract and the more favorable response from some ME/CFS organizations, and offers her personal take on the controversy.

HaveYourSayWhile the mounting questions regarding the HHS/IOM contract have continued to grow and remain unanswered, the Institute of Medicine has been forging ahead with its work to create clinical diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS. On December 3rd, the IOM revealed a list of fifteen provisional panel members with a twenty day window for public comment.… Read More

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Ryan Prior recalls why he and Nicole Castillo decided to make a movie about ME/CFS, and explains why they’ve now decided to form the Blue Ribbon Foundation as a new non-profit organization

BlueRibbonImage1A year ago, I wrote a story for USA Today about my experience with ME/CFS that changed the trajectory of my life. The response to my story taught me just how neglected the ME/CFS patient population is. My plan after graduating from the University of Georgia had been to write about politics. I thought I would move back to Washington to work as a political journalist or as a speechwriter for a congressman or senator.… Read More

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A concluding article for the ‘In Brief…’ Series, summing up the previous articles which attempted to explain the science behind fairly common topics and exploring how they relate to ME – by Andrew Gladman.

800px-Collier_conclusionOver the past few weeks and months I’ve been busily researching, evaluating and writing the series of articles under the subheading of ‘In Brief…’. The original idea behind the articles came partly from frustration and partly from personal interest in the subject areas. From a personal standpoint I became sick just over a year ago and after roughly 6 months I landed a diagnosis of ME/CFS, forcing me to withdraw from university due to the plethora of symptoms I was and still am experiencing.… Read More

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By Jody Smith

pixabay-small-candleHope is essential – especially when things look darkest. And yet, when you’re living with ME/CFS, stirring up hope can be the hardest thing to do.

Hope can be a double-edged sword that can loosen your bonds, or savage you when you wield it. Having hope is no guarantee of success. Daring to hope can feel like you are setting yourself up for the possibility of more pain. And let’s face it, you are.

Fanning that wee flame takes the courage of a warrior. It takes a certain recklessness that can be in short supply when you feel surrounded by the darkness that is ME/CFS.… Read More

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Action for M.E. – the UK’s largest CFS/ME charity – launched a new research strategy in November based on the priorities identified by patients. We asked the Charity’s Chief Executive, Sonya Chowdhury, about the new strategy and also about the commitment to greater patient involvement. By Russell Fleming and Simon McGrath.

Sonya Chowdhury jpeg

Sonya Chowdhury, CEO, Action for ME

Charities have always connected with patients – many were founded by patients and are supported with patient help, but few have tried to give patients a voice when it comes to decision making.

Action for M.E. is working to do just that, a task made far more practical by the internet: consultation has never been so easy, so fast or so cheap.… Read More

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Your help ensured the National ME/FM Action Network of Canada romped through to the Semi-Finals of the Aviva Community Fund competition. Now we need to vote again and see them through to the Finals and a chance at that all important $100,000! Vote online, each and every day from 02 – 11 December 2013!

May 12 AvivaYou did it! Your online votes helped get the National ME/FM Action Network of Canada through to the Semi-Finals of the Aviva Community Fund competition.

Now it’s time to vote again. You can make your vote each and every day, between 2nd and 11th December, and together we can try and get them through to the Finals and a real chance at that $100,000 jackpot!… Read More

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Mark Berry introduces the new Phoenix Rising Store and explains how you can donate to Phoenix Rising for free while doing your holiday shopping online.

Online_ShoppingAt the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the annual festive season is now well and truly upon us.

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish all our American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving…and I’ll encourage you to look forward to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the shopping festival to come, with the Phoenix Rising Store firmly in mind… :)

Here in the UK, Thanksgiving is a bit of a mystery to most of us, but we’re already gearing up for Christmas, and for those who think far enough ahead, the Christmas shopping is well under way.… Read More

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The Holiday Season vs. ME/CFS

November 25, 2013

By Jody Smith

pixabay-christmas-boy-windowIn North America, the end of November traditionally kicks off the holiday season which runs till the beginning of January. “Holiday season” may seem to be at best an ironic term, at worst a bad joke, for describing this most taxing of time periods, especially for people who are chronically ill, and often poor and isolated as so many are who have ME/CFS.

In the United States, Thanksgiving pulls the trigger for the holiday season. It’s an occasion that does its best to bring some light and comfort to a cold, bleak time of year. At least, in theory.… Read More

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The fifth and final article in a series attempting to explain the science behind fairly common topics and exploring how they relate to ME/CFS. This time the topic is the nervous system – by Andrew Gladman.

Labelled diagram of a neurone.

The nervous system, specifically the autonomic nervous system, is frequently discussed in relation to ME/CFS, with quite a plethora of research being targeted in this area.

Many of the symptoms that ME/CFS patients suffer with, such as crushing fatigue, tremor sensations and headaches, could come as a direct consequence of abnormalities in the nervous system.

In this article, I aim to explore the organization and general function of the nervous system as well as considering the research, both historic and ongoing, as it relates to ME/CFS.… Read More

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Tom Kindlon has been nominated in two categories for his herculean efforts with regard to health activism on the internet and in particular his work in disseminating the reality of the PACE Trial and GET/CBT as ‘effective’ treatments for ME/CFS. By Firestormm.

Tom KindlonThe other day, I happened to notice a link posted on the Phoenix Rising Facebook page to the WEGO Health Activists competition, and saw that Tom had deservedly been nominated in the “Best in Show: Twitter” and the “Health Activist Hero” categories.

Tom has been one of those ever-present characters in my ME-world for as long as I have felt able to get back online, and his painstaking work on the PACE Trial and on those less than satisfactory, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and “Exercise” studies, has been truly outstanding.… Read More

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Jody Smith reflects on how vital she has found the slow return of her writing ability – how it has helped with the expression of feelings and experiences, contributed to reestablishing a sense of self, and has proved such an important and productive means of social interaction…

pixabay-soliloquy

Soliloquy – A dramatic or literary form of discourse in which a character talks to himself or herself or reveals his or her thoughts without addressing a listener.

In my life before ME/CFS, I did a lot of writing. I kept a journal most of my life, and in the years before becoming ill, I was also writing for newsletters for my church and my homeschooling group.… Read More

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Lyme on my mind

November 11, 2013

Astrid13 recalls the alarming mental confusion associated with her life of chronic illness and explains how her own search for answers may finally be yielding results – though she still has a long road to travel…

Astrid - Bad Day

Bad day

In 2006, following a miscarriage, I began to suffer the most horrible cognitive decline.

A D&C had been performed under general anesthesia and after a brief recovery at the hospital, I was free to go home.

However, the days that followed began what was to become the most confusing and alarming time of my life.

My hormones were raging, my emotions were going haywire, and I was convinced that I had also left my brain in that cold and sterile Operating Room.… Read More

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Jody Smith relates how tiny victories helped her regain a life despite her limitations.

pixabay-stairsWhat is it about situations that are unfamiliar that make our brains feel lumpy and our bodies feel like they are moving (or trying to) in another dimension?

When I was at my sickest with ME/CFS, this wasn’t much of a problem, because I was spending most of my time hugging my bed, trying not to fall off the world. When I got a bit healthier, the unfamiliar began to present a new kind of problem, needing new strategies to be worked out for daily survival.

For instance, when I was once again able to dress myself and venture outside of my house, stepping out of the front door was just the first of a series of overwhelming challenges.… Read More

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Am I “Allergic to Life”?

November 4, 2013

Claudia Miller

Claudia S. Miller, M.D., M.S., is an allergist/immunologist and tenured Professor at the University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio.

Janis Bell (JanisB) reviews her personal journey of chronic illness after being inspired by a new article written by Jill Neimark and appearing online today in Discover magazine. It highlights the work of Dr Claudia Miller (pictured) and her theories relating to extreme chemical sensitivity and toxicants, a condition she terms, Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance or TILT.

By the time I finished Jill Neimark’s “Extreme Chemical Sensitivity Makes Sufferers Allergic to Life,” (November 2013 issue of Discover Magazine – available free and online today), I was reconsidering my own story, the story I tell myself about the illness that changed my life.… Read More

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Mark Berry asks why the US HHS contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to re-define ME/CFS has provoked such an unprecedented storm of protest, and explores the reactions of patients, organizations, experts and bloggers to the so-called ‘Death Contract’.

contract

At the latest count, 50 leading ME/CFS clinicians and researchers and 66 well-known ME/CFS patient advocates have called for the HHS contract with the IOM to be cancelled.

On September 23rd, 2013, the US Department Of Health and Human Services (HHS) made an announcement that was to send shock waves through the worldwide ME/CFS community. The HHS contract with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to recommend new clinical diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS has united ME/CFS organizations, patients, advocates, physicians and clinicians as never before – in opposition to the HHS/IOM contract, or ‘Death Contract’ as some have called it.… Read More

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Gabby (Nielk) presents a nightmare vision of what the future might hold for ME/CFS patients in the US, if the Institute of Medicine (IOM) contract to redefine ME/CFS turns out as badly as many patients and advocates fear.

the screamImagine that you magically wake up to a day in October of 2015.  Unfortunately you are still ill with ME/CFS and it’s just another ordinary day of suffering for you.  As usual, you log on to your computer with your favorite drink in hand.  You start becoming edgy because you can’t seem to find your usual sites.  You don’t see any mention of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) nor Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).  … Read More

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The fourth in a series of short articles attempting to explain the science behind fairly common topics and exploring how they relate to ME. This time the topic is the Cardiovascular System – by Andrew Gladman.

Image of the heart and the arteries that branch from it.

Image of the heart and the branching arteries.  By Bryan Brandenburg (http://bryanbrandenburg.net/wikpedia-heart-3d//) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The cardiovascular system is not one that is commonly discussed in relation to ME, and yet it is an area that research has shown displays one of the more measurable abnormalities in patients.

Suffice it to say that many of the symptoms that ME patients suffer with, such as muscle fatigue, dysregulation of the nervous system and headaches, could come as a direct consequence of abnormalities in the vascular system.… Read More

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Filmmaker Jennifer Brea launches the Kickstarter campaign today with the trailer of her forthcoming documentary Canary in a Coal Mine – a film that will help change the face of ME. Interview and article by Russell Fleming (Firestormm).

Jen after a day of shooting Canary

Jen after a day of filming.
“I will never do a full day of shooting again.”
© Canary in a Coal Mine

When did you first get sick and why did you decide to make a film?

“It started with the worst flu of my life. Then, it progressed into a more markedly neurological disease, starting with a rather scary episode where I was unable to write my own name.… Read More

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The third in a series of short articles attempting to explain the science behind fairly common topics and exploring how they relate to ME. This time the topic is Mitochondria – by Andrew Gladman.

A single mitochondrion - hundreds of these exist within each single cell of the body.

A single mitochondrion – hundreds of these organelles exist within each single cell of the body.

Over the years it is fairly safe to say that finding consistent physiological abnormalities in ME has proven difficult for researchers, and that this has likely reinforced the notion that ME is largely a psychological disease – an error which only in recent years is being shaken off.

One area that has shown consistent interest is the mitochondria, with many researchers acknowledging or suspecting mitochondrial dysfunction as a real physiological problem.Read More

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