My Nan Had Chronic Fatigue Too

My Nan had Chronic Fatigue too. We didn’t know this was what she had whilst she was living. She had episodes of being bed-bound. At the time, and before I experienced Chronic Fatigue, I thought she had depression. It’s that easy to judge another person due to lack of awareness. She would spend weeks laying asleep on her bed. Nobody knew why. My Mum remembers how fatigued my Nan was when my Mum was a child. She never went to my Mum’s schools due to poor energy levels.

During the year 1976 she dealt with T.B (Tuberculosis). She spent months having treatment for this in the Benenden Chest Hospital in Kent, which meant my Grandad could not visit everyday, as they lived in Sydenham, which is in South East London. She was admitted in January and finally had the T.B, along with part of a lung removed in early May. She was not the same after the operation, already having signs of fatigue beforehand (which you will see in her diary entries, in the following posts) She had double vision and wore a patch over the left lens of her glasses. This is also the time the periods of being bed-bound began. She was challenged with hyperthyroidism, which may account for some/or all of the fatigue symptoms. She refused to see a GP for many years prior to her death. She died from a dense stroke in 1988 when she was 71. I often wonder if a small change in thyroid medication would have improved her fatigue symptoms.

Before her stay in the Benenden she was a Dress Maker. She made a lot of my Mum’s clothes as she was growing up. She also made my Mum’s wedding dress. She was unable to carry on with dress making after the operation due to her double vision. Her diary entries show how much time she spent sewing. It would have been hard to come to terms with losing this skill. She contracted TB in the Haberdashery shop she worked in. The Indian family she worked for had it when they settled in London.

I was 15 when she died. I still feel close to her now. We were very similar with a quiet nature,  both of us loved reading and sewing (I am no longer able to sew due to joint pain and reading is difficult as my eye muscles become tired quickly when reading a book). I have much compassion for how she felt during her times of being bed-bound. Even if no-one understood whilst she was living, I somehow feel it puts it right that someone was able to understand her fatigue following her death. It also makes me feel better knowing that she knew exactly how I feel and how bad I felt in the past when I was virtually bed-bound.

Click on the link to read my Nan’s Diary from her stay in the Benenden Chest Hospital. It was written in a Union of Post Office Workers pocket diary. The posts are small, but there is insight into how she felt and what life was like being isolated in one room for much of her stay.

Link to follow.

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