Sunday, May 18, 2008

A mineshaft and CFS

I heard a skit on Prairie Home Companion which involved a man who had fallen down a mineshaft and a woman up above from whom he was requesting help. It went something like this:

Man: I've fallen down a mineshaft and I'm pinned under a log. Can you help me?

Woman: You fell down the mineshaft? But there's a sign right there saying, "Caution: Mineshaft."

Man: Well I'm down here. Can you help me?

Woman: Your voice sounds pretty close. Maybe you could just climb up.

Man: I'm pinned under a big log. There's a phone up there, can you call and get someone to help me.

Woman: You want me to call and say there's a man who fell down a mineshaft even though there's a sign right here that says stay away from the mineshaft? They'll laugh at me.

She calls, and she and the dispatcher agree that it is not really serious but the dispatcher agrees to send someone to help. It's like he doesn't really see the need, but it's his job so he will send someone.

That's exactly what it's like to have chronic fatigue syndrome. Everyone thinks it should be easy to crawl out on your own. They say you just need to do X and then you'll be fine. X may be go out more, eat a different diet, quit complaining, have a better attitude, or get religion. Your doctor knows she's supposed to go through the motions of helping, but she doesn't really see that there's a problem worthy of her attention.

I know it's far too much to expect people to say "I'm sorry you are sick. What can I do to be supportive?" but couldn't they at least keep their mouths shut long enough for me to be able to imagine that they are listening and understanding, instead of blabbering on about what I ought to be doing?

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