AN EVESHAM mum has opened up about her daughter’s battle with ME in the hope of making people more aware and understanding of the illness.
Julianne Dix’s daughter Isabella was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis at the age of just 10 and her life has changed ever since.
Now 16, brave Isabella has had to cope with the debilitating and chronic nausea and tiredness, but also the ‘cruelness’ of those who do not understand the illness.
“The symptoms include constant flu like feelings and chronic tiredness,” Julianne said.
“Isabella also suffers from severe nausea day and night to the point where she will spend hours over the toilet heaving – it’s just horrendous.
“Sometimes she can’t stand up because she feels that sick. And that’s why if she tried to force herself to try and walk when she’s like that she’d be in bed for the rest of the week then. It’s a matter of just trying to pace her.
“She also gets brain fog where she finds it too hard to concentrate and to remember things.
Julianne told the Observer she can understand why people can be confused about the condition, especially when one minute her daughter can look like nothing is wrong, and the next she can look very ill.
“It was 2011 when she was diagnosed with ME,” she said.
“She then suffered from it sporadically and when she was in year 10 it just went because if you get it young apparently it can go.
“However, towards the end of year 10 in May last year she had an operation and the ME came back – it was just horrendous.
“She tried to return to school, it was odd days, but with the bullying it was difficult.
“People don’t see behind closed doors do they. I’m getting her up, I’m up with her often all night, I’m washing her hair, blow drying it, doing her full make up, even dressing her because she hasn’t got the energy to do it. And if she tried to do it herself she wouldn’t then have the energy to go to school.
“So then I do that and she goes to school looking incredible and then it’s hard for people to understand. She’d maybe do two hours and then come home.
“People don’t realise how much her life has changed.”
From the age of three Isabella was training to become a rhythmic gymnast – with the dream of representing Great Britain at the Olympics. However, this all changed as a result of her illness.
Although Isabella may not be able to achieve her Olympic dream challenge, she is determined to not let her illness hold her back anymore. Despite not being able to attend school for almost a year, Isabella achieved eight pass grades at GCSE including B’s and C’s.
She is now at college studying zoology so she can become an RSPCA inspector in the future.
“She won’t let the illness hold her back career wise,” Julianne added.
“Obviously she can’t do the sport aspect now so we’ve got her into music and animals. We do a lot of fostering animals now and that’s a big love of hers and she’d love to be an RSPCA inspector.
Julianne has also called for more support for ME suffers locally. Currently Isabella has to see a specialist in Bath because there are not any at hospitals in Worcestershire.
“There’s not enough support locally for people with ME at all.
“You’ll find that even GP’s aren’t often very knowledgeable and they kind of pass you on to specialists very quickly as they don’t know what to do.
“She’s never met another child with ME which makes her feel quite isolated.”