A Banker, Zumba Instructor, and Busy Bee, Until She Got ME

As reported in Gloucestershire Live, Chantelle Parry has a few years head-start on an experience people emerging from this pandemic with symptoms of long COVID may be about to go through.
In 2017, Parry came down with glandular fever, more commonly known as mono, a common viral infection normally clearing up within a few weeks. At age 30, she was a busy bee, spending the day working at a bank as a fraud advisor, while juggling her gig as a Zumba instructor. She had a flair for the extreme. The mother of one made time to make skydiving a hobby.
The aftermath of the glandular fever took on a life of its own. Since then, Parry has lived with myalgic encephalomyelitis, a debilitating chronic illness.
“A lot of people think ME means you are just a bit tired but there is a lot more to having it,” explained Parry. “We have seen also people with symptoms of long COVID are almost identical with ME/chronic fatigue syndrome.”
Now, her young daughter acts as her caregiver and she spends her time preserving her energy and hoping for a miracle.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a rare chronic disorder, characterized by extreme tiredness. It’s also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is a complicated disorder, causing inexplicable tiredness that no rest can quell, and worsens with physical or mental exertion. Not only does the overwhelming fatigue hinder daily life, but most activity invokes pain and sickness, causing many patients to be unable to work. Other symptoms include dizziness, blurred vision, sleep problems, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, depression, low stamina, and more. While anyone may get the disease, the majority of patients are women between ages 30 and 50. While there are symptomatic treatments, there are no ME specific treatment options.

Parry’s Life Four Years Later

While Parry made the most of the thrills of life while she could, these days, she has to be extremely conscientious in budgeting her energy: she doesn’t have much to spare.
“Anything I do needs to be planned. I know even when we went with my mother and daughter for picnic to watch the planes at Staverton, I would pay for it the next day. Its a post-exertional malaise.”
She no longer works due to the severity of her symptoms, which causes her extreme tiredness and sickness. Some days she can’t get out of bed because her body aches too much. She also gets headaches, sore throats, flareups after doing activities or gentle exercise, and insomnia. Parry said,
“I also have a brain fog where I am trying to talk and words just disappear and I have memory loss.”
She also noted how painful the disorder can be, explaining it is quite similar to the pain disorder fibromyalgia.
In order to maintain the upkeep of the home, her daughter has become a crucial helping hand. She does household chores, which take an enormous amount of energy for Parry, who finds just standing to wash dishes extremely exhausted. Even having a hot chocolate and a chat with a friend in her garden makes her enormously tired, necessitating days to recover.
While Chantelle gets up in the morning to see her daughter off to school, after that she returns to bed. Parry has had to see her life and time make a 360, she still lives in hope of improvement, and a different path forward.
“I know there is no cure for ME. However I have read of some making a recovery after two years. I will never give up hope even though there are just a few who seem to get better.”

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