Thank you for another great edition of Nucleus.
It was interesting to read about Burrswood -a Christian hospital. My interest was sparked by Michael Harper’s comment that Burrswood has significant expertise in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and similar conditions, particularly because I have known three people with the condition, two affected very severely. I would like to suggest that Nucleus could include an article on CFS in the future, because from what I have gathered it is a very complex condition about which there is little definite knowledge and the psychological and spiritual elements are surely especially relevant in these conditions.
In my experiences with these three friends, I have witnessed the terrible toll the illness has taken on them for many years and the difficulty they have had reconciling this with God’s will for them. It has left them completely dependent on others for care, and unable to find energy to go to church, read the Bible or even pray. One girl has been bed bound for many years, unable to bear light or touch. Many people, including the church family, do not know how to react - it can seem like depression or deliberate refusal to continue normal living. There seem to be very few experts in CFS and little support for patients or their families. Treatment is also problematic; various theories exist but often patients are simply incapacitated to varying degrees until they suddenly start to improve (often after many years).
I think the broad spectrum of (often vague) symptoms, the generally long-term incapacitating nature of the illness and the difficulty in knowing how to treat it make it hard to come to terms with. I know that the constant exhaustion and relapsing symptoms lead to great frustration and depression and it is very hard for Christians to understand why this is happening to them. Should they pray for healing? Should they understand their illness as organic or psychological? How can God allow them to be so exhausted that they can’t even pray? How should families and churches support patients? These are a few of the issues that occur to me and I would be very interested to know how Christian doctors respond to CFS.
Thanks again to the team who put Nucleus together - it really is a great student journal!
Clinical student Royal Free & University College Medical School, London