Enforced rest at onset appears to be best approach for Polio and ME

Excerpt from

MYALGIC ENCEPHALOMYELITIS : A Baffling Syndrome With a Tragic Aftermath. By A. Melvin Ramsay M.D., Hon Consultant Physician, Infectious Diseases Dept, Royal Free Hospital. [Published 1986]

'The syndrome which is currently known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis in the UK and Epidemic Neuromyasthenia in the USA leaves a chronic aftermath of debility in a large number of cases. The degree of physical incapacity varies greatly, but the dominant clinical feature of profound fatigue is directly related to the length of time the patient persists in physical effort after its onset; put in another way, those patients who are given a period of enforced rest from the onset have the best prognosis'.

Ed: Interestingly the above excerpt from Melvin Ramsay rings bells with my own experiences.

  1. When I contracted paralytic Polio in 1956, I was sent to Queen Mary's Hospital in Carshalton Beeches. I was 5 years old, and like all young children I just wanted to run around. Their 'novel' method of treating Polio patients, who came to them from all over the world, was to tether them horizontally to their beds 24/7! The only respite was to be taken to the bathrooms for alternate hot/cold showering. The latter was presumably to keep the muscles from deteriorating. This enforced rest or lack of mobility lasted for 9 months, all the time I was there. It obviously paid off in my case as I was luckily left with minimal damage after the disease. Yet in the Hospital before I was totally paralysed and my parents were told I would never be able to walk again.
  2. In Aug 1990 I became unwell with ME. I was half way through extensive renovations to my house and garden. The garden had been completely stripped and I was about to lay a new lawn from seed. The soil had been levelled and I had waited for the weed seedlings to appear which needed pulling out before sowing the grass seed. I felt really awful, I couldn't bend down, being so stiff and in severe pain. I'd coincidentally had just listened to a 'doctor' on the radio talking about ME! This doctor was saying 'there was nothing wrong with the muscles' it was a communication problem between the brain and the muscles. Well he may have been correct in his theory, i.e. it being a neurological disease, but he didn't understand the effect of ignoring ones body and carrying on. Well I ended up sitting on a stool and painfully ignoring my body. Needless to say I became very unwell, a relapse that lasted many months with a lot of that time being bed-bound.

Most of us were encouraged to ignore our condition when we were first ill. We didn't need much excuse to get on and ignore it. We hoped that by ignoring it, it would go away. And like a 5-year-old child we didn't want to stop. Who knows if we had have rested in the beginning, would we have been less severely effected? Those in the know all believe we would haven