Naomi Cassman

June 1999. Picking my kids up from school and walking home along river in Richmond-upon Thames in Surrey.  I began to notice how tired I was.  Had a picked up a bug?  Life was busy with work, kids, dog, house etc.  Ignoring the fatigue, the weeks went by as usual when one day, writing a children’s series, at my computer, I found myself staring aimlessly at the screen.  I couldn’t understand the normal screenplay layout that was normally second nature to me.

I was stuck wandering why stage directions were ranged left and why dialogue had to be centred?
Then my creative thinking that normally would flow and develop as I wrote, became halted.  I became confused: how could I do both at once?  Then I felt terror.  What was happening to me?

A few days later, I could no longer continue working and after long consideration, I called the editor to say I felt very ill and pulled out.

In the next weeks, with continuing fatigue, my vision went double, my gait began to wobble and I was horribly confused!  As were family, friends and work. Looking back, i think those people were more frightened than me!  A mother with neurological symptoms is too taboo!

My GP just said he was terrified that I may have a tumour and the hospital said not and declined giving me an MRI.

Two weeks later, I began vomiting, every time I moved my head. I was taken to Accident and Emergency and after a lengthy process, was admitted and scanned.  I had lesions, the physiology and white blood cell count in keeping with an MS diagnosis. I managed to ask my parents to request a Lyme Disease test. The neurologist agreed. (subsequently I discovered I had never had this!)

I was put on a steroid drip and began to regain my sight, hearing and strength to walk.

I returned home to resume work and normal life with no rehabilitation, counselling, and in shock, as my family were.

It soon became apparent, this was not to be!  I continued to have chronic fatigue and mild cognitive issues.  If I did too much, I got confused and then sad or ‘depressed’ as they call it now!