The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

It’s official


Photo: Chickens in the snow

Photo: Chickens in the snow

Things have been hectic here at The Cottage Smallholder. I have finally been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME), which developed from the bad kidney infection that I had in summer.
The diagnosis takes a long time as you have to be tested for the full gamut of other potential illnesses (cancer, thyroid problems, TB etc). All those tests were negative and I’ve completed the six months of prodding and poking. I’m now booked into seeing a consultant neurologist on Tuesday.
But I don’t want to dwell on being ill – rather focus on getting better. Danny has private medical insurance for us both as part of his employer’s benefits scheme. That led us to believe that we had a buffer from the long waiting lists for the few N.H.S. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome treatment centres.
When I called the health insurance company to obtain approval for my neurologist appointment, I had to hold the line for a few minutes.

“I’m sorry but Chronic Fatigue Syndrome isn’t covered by your policy.”

 When I asked why I was told.
“Anything termed ‘chronic’ is incurable. We don’t cover chronic illnesses.”
“But it is treatable. That’s why there are treatment centres.”
“Treatment is not a cure.”

I was deflated and enraged. Incurable – that was a kick in the belly.
When I asked to be passed on to someone higher up the chain she tried to be reassuring. 
“If they discover that there is something wrong with your brain we might be able to help.”

After an hour of ranting in bed with the Min Pins I began to believe there could very well be something wrong with my brain. Then I finally calmed down.

O.K. Aviva I’m going to show you that CFS is curable. Watch this space.

If any one out there has private medical insurance, please check the small print to avoid disappointment.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hi Fiona

    I’ve been away for a few days, so just read this. I’m glad that at least you now have an official diagnosis, and lots of other nasties that must have been worrying you have been ruled out. It is a blow, but you’ve already shown by your activities over the last months that you can beat this and live your life, recognising the limitations to what you can do and working around them. And I’m glad you have Danny, who is such a supportive partner. Belated Happy Valentine’s Day to both!

    I’m with Suzie on insurance companies: they have their own circle of hell. How crass and insensitive that person was. As you say, the fact that it may be (currently) incurable doesn’t mean it can’t be managed and treated. So sod them — I hope you can now find a good combination of treatment and techniques that will help you manage.

  2. Dear Fiona,
    I think you already know how much I love this blog – like all the other people above. I have no tips or advice. Just wanted to add my support. One good thing is that you now know what you are dealing with. As for insurance companies!!!!! How come they always find a loophole??? Honestly, they make me so angry.

    I would have commented earlier, but I missed this post. I now subscribe by feed reader to your posts and have discovered that, not only do they arrive late, but also when I click on my link to you, there are newer posts that I haven’t seen. I think I prefer the old way, when I caught up with the news at the Cottage Smallholder with my morning tea.

    With very best wishes, Sally. And, thanks again for the inspiration and information.

  3. Magic Cochin

    Hope all goes well when you see the specialist.

    Whatever the treatment suggested, I’m sure taking things slowly and gradually will help you get better.

    Like exley, I was going to suggest Chi Kung as a form of exercise you could do as you recover. I’ve done it as the warm up for Tai Chi, even the chair bound and frail can do the exercises and they really help to boost energy and lift the spirits.

    Best wishes

  4. Poor you.
    I’ve been following the blog on and off for a few months and have been very grateful for the jam and liqueur recipes. I guess all this support you are now receiving is the readers repaying the pleasure you have given through your website.

    Whilst exploring the recipes, I wondered how your health was, whether you were suffering (as I am) from any of the F conditions (female, fifty plus) that seem to revolve around a diet too high in sugars and animal fats and resulting in digestion problems: liver, gall bladder, low or high stomach acid, and also diabetes.
    I live in France after spending many years in the Netherlands. Watching BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, I continue to be amazed at the rivers of pork fat, cream and butter, and avalanches of sugar that flow onto the plates served up by James Martin. But of course, it is all traditionally British and soooo delicious. I also see that most of my female Brit friends/colleagues are now obese or borderline, unlike my Dutch and French friends/colleagues.

    Last year I had a liver/gall bladder crisis which turned out to be the cause of a wide range of symptoms building up over the last years. This was despite my presumption of enjoying a healthy diet. Ha! Anyhow, what I’m getting around to saying is, the dietary chickens come home to roost in your 50s! Your diet may have played a role in your condition and could most probably play a role in healing it.

    What has been most helpful for me is (The World’s Healthiest Foods) that has reminded me how to cook so that nutrients are best preserved and which foods are best for which health conditions. I recommend that you have a look just to check that all is right on the nutritional front. The book is excellent value.

    For increasing energy and supporting the immune system etc, etc., I have found Chi Kung (aka Chi Quong and other variants) exercises to be very good and much easier to learn and do alone than Tai Chi. Also good for ‘quieting the mind’.

    And above all, acupuncture. At first I was very sceptical (and hate needles in me!) but the results are very convincing (and the needles are mostly painless). I particularly like the fact that an acupuncturist can diagnose and treat potential conditions before symptoms become apparent: it is preventive as well as being holistic!

    Using these three ‘treatments’ represent a more holistic approach to attaining and sustaining good health than conventional Western medicine does with its reliance on invasive methods like surgery and heavy drugs: it seems to focus on fighting symptoms more than striving to treat the cause of a condition.

    So if conventional medicine does not help, you might consider these. Note that acupuncture often can’t be had if you are on strong medicines. But get onto nutrition/diet right away – at least you have full control over that!
    I’ll be thinking of you. Good luck!

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