We aim to help patients and their doctors to identify the condition, and then offer support to manage it as effectively as possible.
We can help to reduce some of the symptoms using medication and other approaches, but many people face the challenge of living with these ongoing symptoms for some time. We know that M.E./CFS can gradually improve in many people, and the service that we offer can increase the likelihood of progress. We also know that learning ways to manage the condition can help people to make improvements in quality of life. For example, many patients experience a delayed increase in symptoms a day or two after an increase in activity levels. This is known medically as “post-exertional malaise” but it is known to many of our patients as “payback”. This delayed response can make the illness particularly difficult to manage. Through learning self-management skills, people can reduce the likelihood and severity of this “payback”. This can provide a more stable situation which allows some patients to gradually build up important activities.
What happens when you first visit the Bristol M.E. service?
We accept referrals from GPs and hospital specialists. Once we have checked the appropriate tests have been completed by your GP, you will be sent some questionnaires to fill in: these form the basis of the initial assessment. We send them to you so that you have a chance to think about the questions before the appointment, so hopefully the appointment is not so demanding. The appointment will be with one of the team- a psychologist, physiotherapist or occupational therapist who will discuss your symptoms and the impact of your symptoms on your day to day to life. During this appointment we may diagnose M.E./CFS, but sometimes it is necessary to make a second appointment.
Following diagnosis, a management plan is agreed: often this can include a further individual appointment or taking part in one of our multidisciplinary therapy groups. Our Service offers a multidisciplinary approach, in line with the NICE guidelines. We regularly monitor newly published research into CFS/ME, but at present there are a limited number of evidence-based treatments for M.E./CFS Three guides to therapies have been produced by the British Association for CFS/ME. There is a guide to symptom management, a guide to therapy and also a guide offering advice for people who are severely affected by M.E./CFS To find out more about these guides, visit www.bacme.info