Doctor with M.E.: My Journey with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” – Book review

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I have just finished reading the book “Doctor with M.E.: My Journey with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” by Dr. K N Hng. I believe it’s an important book that has the potential to educate many about the reality of living with ME/CFS.

It’s an honest account of life with ME/CFS by a doctor who developed the condition, but it’s also an important educational tool. It’s a great book to read if you live with ME/CFS yourself. Or if you would like to help your family and friends understand Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) a little better, why not pass it on to them?

For those of you with ME/CFS, I know reading text can be difficult. But this book is a manageable length and split into small, easy to read chapters.

About the book

Dr Hng developed ME/CFS while working as a busy, very senior junior doctor within the NHS. Within the book she talks us through her story from initial symptoms to diagnosis, and she gives an honest account of the devastating impact ME/CFS has had on her life.

I have a story to tell. There are many things in here which I am not at all comfortable sharing, yet I want to tell the whole story. Therefore I have decided to share them. I hope doing so will help educate, inform, and raise awareness. From my own experience, both as a doctor and then as a patient, this condition is poorly understood. After all, isn’t everyone tired all the time?” ~ Dr Hng

While reading the sections where Dr Hng describes what it feels like to live with ME/CFS, I found myself nodding along. Our symptoms are often so bizarre that we can sometimes doubt ourselves, so her descriptions validate my experiences and struggles.

After my daily naps I wake paralysed, stuck in the netherworld between wakefulness and sleep, completely unable to move. My eyes stay shut and my body stays still. I am mentally submerged under ten feet of water – my own Netherland.” ~ Dr Hng

Image by Dr Hng

“The fatigue is absolutely debilitating. It is more than just feeling lacklustre. It is an all-consuming feeling of the body, head and limbs having turned into lead, and carrying the weight of stone. When gripped by it, it is a struggle even to move a finger, or to speak. So you can’t call or text a friend. You suffer alone. ~ Dr Hng

The book draws the reader into the author’s personal struggle with ME/CFS while imparting clear information regarding the condition along the way. Anyone struggling with ME/CFS or will feel comforted by the author’s struggle because she understands and is a doctor herself.

Doctor with M.E.: My Journey with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” also discusses the ignorance within the medical profession and the often harmful treatment practices we are subjected to. Unfortunately her experiences are all too common and very relatable:

“Many patients are misdiagnosed with a psychological illness such as depression or told that it’s all in their heads. This is not only unhelpful but actually harmful. It robs patients of the option of the right management, and a psychological approach of “positive thinking”, encouraging patients to ignore their symptoms and carry on with activity, or worse, to exercise, is the most harmful intervention possible. The damage can be great and many patients never recover. In the misguided pursuit of psychological or psychiatric cures, some patients are even incarcerated in mental institutions.” ~ Dr Hng

This book acts as an invaluable educational resource with extensive links throughout to additional reading material. This is a must-read for all medical professionals. I hope it will educate, and go some way to eradicate the ignorance and harmful treatment practices.

I personally plan to give my GP a copy of Dr Hng’s book in the hope that a better understanding of this illness will lead to better treatment and care.

Image by Dr Hng

Dr Hng’s vision for this book

I spoke to Dr Hng and asked what prompted her to write Doctor with M.E.: My Journey with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” and what she hopes people take away from reading it.

Dr Hng explains;

“My vision is to show doctors what it really is to be ill with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. I want doctors to realise that this is a real illness, it is not at all trivial, and it is not of psychological origin. I want patients to know that their suffering is real, and that they are not imagining it. And I want to give sufferers a way of explaining to others what it is that is wrong with them, and for them to be believed by their family and friends, to be understood.”

Dr Hng hopes her book will be used to educate doctors about ME/CFS. She stated;

“I want my book to get to as many doctors as possible. I ask people to get one for their doctor, and all their other doctors if they can afford it, and family or friends who don’t understand. This latest edition contains lots of educational content and links to excellent resources. Some ME/CFS charities have made bulk purchases to give out to doctors, which have been a great success and very well received. It would be brilliant if other charities can help too!”

Dr Hng wants her book to be distributed far and wide. She has dedicated her time and precious energy to educate the world.

100 copies have already been bought by ME/CFS charities, and Dr Hng has personally posted about 80 books to MPs. She has given out nearly 100 books to doctors, many of which were handed out at a lecture Dr Hng organised for her colleagues. And many patients worldwide have also bought the book for their doctors. In addition she has given out books to family, friends, advocates, her children’s school, her dentist, and practically everyone she comes into contact with. Here’s a peep into her life educating the world.

How to buy the book

I purchased the Kindle version of the book on Amazon (currently only £2.99). This is a great way to read it as all the additional educational resource links are available, only one click away. You can read the resources as you go along or at a later date when you feel able. But it’s also available in paperback.

If you are in the UK, click here to purchase the book.

If you are in the US, click here to purchase it.

And The Book Depository offers free worldwide delivery. Click here to purchase.

If you would like to give a copy of the book to your doctor, Dr Hng has provided a covering letter.

Summary

Dr Hng had a clear objective when writing her book, and has definitely achieved this and much more. Doctor with M.E.: My Journey with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” is a must-read for anyone suffering with ME/CFS, their friends and family, and also all medical professionals.

Dr Hng bravely tells her story, and in doing so she has written a concise, informative and moving introduction to this debilitating illness.

About the Author

Dr. Hng is a Gastroenterology/General Internal Medicine trainee in the United Kingdom.

Her credentials includes her basic medical degree MBChB, Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP), Postgraduate Certificate in Work Based Medical Education (PGCert in WBME), and Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Dr. Hng excels as a teacher. She was previously a Teaching Fellow, and later an Honorary Lecturer, at the Manchester Medical School, the largest in the country. She co-authored its Year 3 Liver, Biliary and Pancreatic Diseases online module. Dr. Hng’s personal account shines a light on the hidden world of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a devastating illness which most doctors know little about. Despite her struggles, Dr. Hng now attempts the greatest teaching challenge of her life – educating the medical profession on ME/CFS

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  3. Jo Moss

4 Comments

  1. Thank you so much Jo for you’re blog post about Dr Hng ‘s book. The way in which you describe your experience of reading it speak largely to how my own experience has been. Giving this book to my GP was pivotal in his understanding and us beginning to work collaboratively to manage my health. I felt so desperately alone and confused in this terrible illness, but since Dr Hng and her wonderful book came along I have never felt alone on this journey through ME/CFS😊 xx

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