Happy New Year from the Sampson family.
If you would like to understand why I keep falling behind with this blog, what ‘relapse’ means to me and how I become too weak to write, please join us in the Big Green Truck this Friday 5th Jan to watch the film UNREST, which recently made the documentary shortlist for the Oscars. Our virtual House Party screening is part of the Time for Unrest global initiative to raise awareness about M.E.
I fell ill in 1992, after contracting dysentery while travelling in Asia post-glandular fever during my final year at Oxford. I was diagnosed with M.E. a year later by a reluctant GP who could find no other explanation for my bizarre range of debilitating symptoms. I spent 2 years mostly bedridden, and couldn’t work full time for another 4 years. I was strongest in my early thirties, but only held down a job by careful management of my work/rest ratio and a strict diet: no alcohol, no caffeine, no gluten, no sugar, no processed foods. Giving birth nearly killed me, as those of you who ever heard my husband’s amusing comedy routine about haemorraging on the sofa may remember. And I am one of the lucky ones: 25% of people with M.E. never make it out of their darkened bedrooms.
If you ever wondered why I came to South Africa in the first place, why I didn’t pursue my career in comedy/carnival/academia, why I abandoned eMzantsi life to travel Africa Clockwise with a kitchen and a bed in tow – I hope watching UNREST might help explain and excuse my absences.
I haven’t seen the film yet, and I fear that even this revealing glimpse into the lives of people with M.E. is limited to the view of a privileged minority who have enough energy and resources to make movies about it. But nevertheless it is a huge achievement and a massive step forward for the ‘Millions Missing’ who continue to suffer from invisible illnesses and the stigma around them. If you can, pledge to download a digital copy and join the Sampsons, who will be watching somewhere in Egypt at 7pm on Friday 5th Jan, and invite as many friends, family and medical professionals as possible to join you.