45,000 people in New Zealand live with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome).
It’s an umbrella term that covers a variety of post-viral illnesses.
It manifests after the body fights off an infection like glandular fever, and can range from mild symptoms with minimal impact on day-to-day tasks, to being bed-bound and in need of round-the-clock care.
Fiona Charlton says she “lost her thirties to the illness.”
She was still practising law when the symptoms worsened in her twenties.
“I’d forget what I was saying in the middle of a sentence, and even when they prompt me it would just be gone. And it would just distress me because I want to provide a professional service, and I was struggling.”
She’s now housebound and has the cognitive and physical capacity to put in a few productive hours every day. But now and then, she relapses to a much worse condition.