Alice Hattrick was aged eight when their mother collapsed with mycoplasma pneumonia. The author – who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they” – found her on the kitchen floor at their home in Brighton. Their mother was in her early thirties. She experienced flu-like symptoms – fatigue, headache, chest pain and fever – from which she never recovered. It took two years before she was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).
In their book Ill Feelings, a blend of memoir, literary criticism, and analysis into the social effects of chronic illness, Hattrick, now 34, transposes their mother’s account of that day: “‘Alice witnessed this,’ she later wrote, as if I had observed a crime and needed a new identity.” Hattrick started to develop their own symptoms, which bore a striking similarity to their mother’s. They experienced stomach aches and headaches that lasted all day; they felt like sleeping during school break times; they felt pain in their arms and legs after PE. Later, Hattrick too would be diagnosed with CFS, by a doctor at a children’s hospital. “I remember feeling almost pleased with my diagnosis, even if I was not entirely convinced by it,” they write. “It made me feel closer to my mother.”
Read more at: https://www.newstatesman.com/the-culture-interview/2021/10/society-is-ableist-alice-hattrick-on-gender-chronic-illness-and-long-covid