On Monday past I was on the telly. On Monday coming I will be again in the second of a 2-part programme about CFS/ME and the controversial treatment, Mickel Therapy.
It began last summer when I was contacted by a researcher for TV production company, Mac TV, who had discovered my blog and some of my writings about CFS/ME and wondered if I spoke Gaelic. I said I didn’t, but would be interested in being kept informed about the programme they were planning.
I can only guess they were struggling to find enough people who a) had CFS/ME, b) spoke Gaelic, and c) were prepared to have a TV camera stuck under their nose while they were followed through a treatment not sanctioned by the ME Association, because they got back in contact to ask if I’d be up for being involved in the programme.
Towards the end of August I was visited and interviewed by the director, Robbie, and filmed talking about the effect CFS/ME had had on me over the past 5 years.
The filming process is distinctly odd on a number of levels, not least the fact they need to shoot quite a bit of other footage than just the interview bit. They also need to film all the cutaway shots – one of which involved me going for a walk up the street with a camera stuck to a metal frame attached to my shoulder, so it stayed in a fixed position in relation to my face, which it was pointing at. So as I moved about, my head appears to remain in place and the background constantly shifts.
The next thing to film was my first meeting with Dr Mickel, the guy behind the controversial treatment. He’s usually based up in Elgin, in the north of Scotland, so this meeting was arranged in a hotel just outside Glasgow.
Subsequent sessions with Dr Mickel were done via Skype, and in mid-November, Robbie returned with Douglas the cameraman to interview me about what impact the sessions had had on my condition.
Originally it was only going to be one programme, but as there were several other people with CFS/ME being interviewed, as well as the head of the ME Association, Dr Mickel and a few others, they felt a one hour programme wouldn’t do it justice, so put together two. Although personally I think they could have easily made a 10-part series.
Part 1 was about what the effects of CFS/ME are, and what it’s like to live with it – from dealing with doctors to the impact it has on those around you.
Part 2 will be following a couple of us through Dr Mickel’s treatment and the controversy surrounding it.
For a limited time (possibly only until Monday), episode 1 is available on BBC iplayer here.
It is mostly in Gaelic with English subtitles, apart from the input of Dr Shepherd of the ME Association, an ME sufferer from Edinburgh, the wife of another ME sufferer and, of course, me.
I had thought they might put up Gaelic subtitles when I was talking, but apparently everyone in Scotland who speaks Gaelic, also speaks English, so they don’t bother.
Unfortunately, access to the programme is limited outwith the UK, and I’m not allowed to upload it to YouTube for copyright reasons.
I would urge anyone to watch it if they can - not because I'm in it, but because it does give a very real sense of what it's like to live with the condition. I found the interviews with a retired policeman who's had it for 20 years, absolutely heart-wrenching.
Part 2 of the programme, Trusadh, is being shown at 9pm on Monday 30th January on BBC Alba, after which I’ll write a bit more about how I got on with Mickel Therapy and the impact it’s had on my CFS/ME