Learn about ME at free documentary screening

A screening of a documentary about ME/chronic fatigue syndrome next month will give the public a glimpse into the reality of life with this debilitating illness, according to the co-ordinator of the Galway ME Support Group.

Orla Ni Chomrai says this free event - entitled "ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, Forgotten Plague" - which takes place at the Maldron Hotel, Sandy Road on Thursday May 12 at 7.30pm, will also give people hope because it highlights the ongoing research into the cause of the condition.

The documentary illustrates how Ryan Prior’s life was changed forever when on October 22 2006 he was struck down by ME/CFS, a disease that dozens of doctors were powerless to diagnose, let alone treat. Against great odds, he became a reporter and shares the story of his suffering and improbable recovery. He is shocked that millions globally remain sidelined by the same disease, many bedridden for decades. "Forgotten Plague" is a journey into the hidden world of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ).

Ms Ni Chomrai says it gives the public a glimpse into the reality of life with the condition. "We see Jamison Hill, struggling to do a few push-ups despite previously being into body building; he also struggles with basic everyday tasks. We see Matt Ray, who needed to wear sunglasses because of light-sensitivity and also uses a wheelchair, but has improved somewhat on an experimental drug.

"There are men and women, of different ages and severity, who were on different career paths before the illness struck, from a radiologist, to a journalist to a photographer, who have been sick anything from a few years to a few decades. Unfortunately both careers and relationships can be shattered by the illness, though we also see how some families rally around to support the person with the illness."

She says the documentary reveals how the condition can fluctuate from day to day, making planning difficult. It also shows that people sometimes do not realise that those who have ME may not always feel as well as they are on "their better days".

"We even see an example of the illness's unpredictability when one of the documentary's directors, who has ME himself, deteriorates and has a health scare."

Ms Ni Chomrai says the film will give people hope that eventually a cure will be found for ME. "Researchers are trying to uncover the underlying cause of the illness. One lab is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to try to unlock the mysteries of this illness. Because of the complexities of the illness they decided that computers could be of use to try to help unravel how different areas of the body might be interacting in a way that drives the illness.

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