ABOVE: Andrew Presbury suffers from chronic fatigue.
ABOVE: Andrew Presbury suffers from chronic fatigue. Samantha Elley

Invisible illness left man 'in the foetal position'

CHRONIC fatigue syndrome is an illness that can strike anyone within a community.

Whether a businessman or stay-at-home mum, the cause and symptoms do not discriminate.

Unfortunately for sufferers, they can often be misunderstood by friends, family and co-workers, who may not know what they are dealing with.

"It is actually misnamed," CFS sufferer and Casino resident Andrew Presbury said.

"When you call it chronic fatigue it sounds like we are just tired all the time or even just lazy.

"While tiredness is a constant symptom, the actual disease is called myalgic encephalomyelitis or ME."

Since 1969, ME has been classified as a neurological disorder by the World Health Organisation.

Mr Presbury didn't know this was what he was suffering, despite going to doctors, until he was watching an interview with comedian Ricky Gervais one night.

"All the symptoms he mentioned were exactly what I was going through," he said.

Once Mr Presbury and the doctors could pinpoint what the problem was, he said it was like a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.

For Mr Presbury, the issue started to occur in late 2010 when he was hit with a fever.

"One day I felt weak and tired and had a really bad fever," he said.

"That night I remember being wrapped in a doona and my teeth were chattering.

"I went to Casino hospital and they gave me Panadol and my temperature actually went up."

Mr Presbury said they finally found a virus in his blood called Barmah Forest, which he said was the precursor to his CFS.

From there things got worse for Mr Presbury, with reducing energy levels he had to take time off work.

"People didn't understand it," he said.

"You look like you're lazy but I try to do something around the house and 20 minutes in, I am exhausted and I'd end up in the foetal position on the lounge.

"You feel useless and this can cause depressive cycles.

Mr Presbury knew he couldn't work for anyone else if he couldn't give them the hours they required.

He started his own business - APRACS Refrigeration - which has evolved as he gained energy.

"I'll always have CFS and I feel it from time to time, especially during stress or a heavy workload," he said.