Last fortnight, Australian talk show Insight screened an episode about ME/CFS. The panel included ME/CFS patients, parents of children with ME/CFS, healthcare professionals and researchers in the field. The episode had a particular focus on the benefits vs harms of graded exercise therapy (GET), which I have already written about at length.
I naturally went in with some trepidation, given the poor media coverage of ME/CFS in the past. There were certainly some issues with the program, in particular, the disproportionate representation of those who have completely recovered from ME/CFS (2 in a panel of 4 were not only recovered, but elite athletes). Given the recovery rate of ME is somewhere between 5 and 10%, I found this to be a misleading depiction of the illness.
That said, the other participants did an excellent job of shining a light on ME/CFS, and host Jenny Brockie was even handed in her questioning. Kudos to Insight for featuring a bedbound teenage boy and a woman in her 30s living in a nursing home, a very real representation of what this illness does to people’s lives.
The accompanying articles: ‘I’m 33 and I live in a dementia ward’ and ‘My son hasn’t left the house in a year’, written about these participants were also helpful in shining a light on their condition to a broader audience.
None of the information featured was new to me, but I have to remember that these shows aren’t really for me, they are for those who may not know a lot of about ME/CFS. In that sense Insight provided. I would recommend watching, keeping in mind the low rates of recovery of those with ME, and with the caveat that the content (namely, the recovered participants) may be distressing to those with the illness.
(I think someone has recorded and uploaded a copy of the episode to YouTube, but who knows how long it will be up for.)