ME sufferer raises awareness of debilitating and difficult illness

Katie Ash, who suffers from ME
Katie Ash, who suffers from ME

A woman who suffers from a debilitating, yet misunderstood, condition is raising awareness of it.

Katie Ash, 37, of Lesbury, spends most of her time housebound and in a wheelchair.

She suffers from ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) and every day can be a struggle.

But Katie, who was struck down with the condition aged 22, wants to share her story as May is ME awareness month.

While working in her first job for an international women’s charity after graduating from Anglia Polytechnic University, in Cambridge, Katie fell ill with a virus, but didn’t recover.

“I had three weeks off work and I thought it was clearing up, but I ended up feeling like the bottom had dropped out of me,” she said.

She moved back to live with her mum in Shropshire. After being misdiagnosed with depression, Katie, who now lives with partnerJanice McLaughlin, was finally told she had ME.

“My sister had it when she was 11 so I kind of knew what I had,” she said.”

She managed to work, in Leeds, for six years, but eventually had to give up.

On a daily basis, she suffers from pain, lack of energy, muscle weakness, sensory overload, cognitive problems and sleep disruption.

Katie also suffers from Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS), a condition associated with ME, which means the bloodflow to her brain is disrupted when she stands up and she spends a lot of time in a horizontal position.

She said: “I don’t remember what feeling well is like. If anyone is ill and doesn’t get better they need to be checked out.

“People just think you are a bit tired but for me sometimes just brushing my teeth is a huge effort.

“My memory is so bad that I have to write myself lists of things I have to do.

“But I have to try to do as many things as I can in the morning when I feel well. I have to have a sleep in the afternoon as well. I only get out of the house once a week and that is mainly for appointments.”

Katie and Janice, 46, who is a professor at Newcastle University, moved to Lesbury 18 months ago.