When Rita Williams first became ill in 2001, she didn’t know what was wrong with her.
A viral infection initially led doctors to diagnose her with chicken pox – but when this cleared she was suddenly struck down by crippling chronic fatigue.
The recently retired deputy teacher felt sick, couldn’t eat, and it felt as if she had weights dragging on her muscles.
It would take her two hours to recover from a phone conversation and she lost the ability to think clearly and keep up a good conversation.
The 74-year-old had no idea what was wrong with her. She lay on a sofa for three weeks and the situation left her feeling like there was no point to her life.
As a ‘do-er’ used to a working under a lot of pressure, it was an incredibly frustrating time in her life.
But over the next 12 months her health deteriorated even further.
Rita said it was incredibly frustrating to be struck down with such tiredness (Picture: Rita Williams)
She was sent for a series of invasive tests, but they all came back negative.
Rita’s GP then suggested she was depressed and said she should take medication to combat it, which she refused.
‘I was depressed, but only because I couldn’t do the simplest of tasks like hold conversations or climb the stairs’, she said.
‘I was suicidal. I had held down a job. I was a deputy head in a secondary high school, I had dealt with difficult multiple situations and I thought is this my retirement forever. It was horrible.’
Rita, of Staffordshire, Stafford, was ill for about 14 months, but in January 2003 she found hope through her daughter.
Her daughter found out through a chance conversation at work that the daughter of her director had suffered similar symptoms to Rita
The Perrin Technique transformed Rita’s life (Picture: Rita Williams)
The Perrin Technique is a system of manual diagnosis around five physical symptoms, and is based on the theory that CFS/ME is a disorder of the lymphatic drainage system.
This disorder can be caused by different factors, including allergies, stress and infections which can lead to a build-up of toxins in the fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
The five physical symptoms that were explored in this included postural defects, tender points around the spine, chest and lymph nodes, skin rashes or eruptions and abnormal breast tenderness and varicosities.
The Perrin Technique is focused on stimulating the fluid motion around the brain and spinal cord to aid drainage of these toxins out of the lymphatic system and into the blood, where they are detoxified in the liver.
Detoxification means there are no poisons affecting the brain anymore, helping the sympathetic nervous system to start to function correctly.
Rita quickly made an appointment with Dr Perrin.
She said of the time: ‘I was so poorly we stayed in a hotel overnight because I knew I couldn’t make the journey down.
‘My husband’s very supportive. We sat in his surgery and I explained these things and for the first time I met somebody saying, “I understand”.’ Rita said it was like a ‘revelation’ after she had been diagnosed. ‘When I met Dr Perrin he explained to me that I was at the ‘absolute maximum’ of ME.’
The examinations showed Rita had lymph node blockages, and in some areas the lymph system was so clogged it was like ‘white veins’.
ME, otherwise known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), is a long-term illness in which sufferers display symptoms of extreme tiredness.
Dr Perrin explained to Rita that the treatment would make her feel worse at times.
Rita said she is now able to live with the condition (Picture: Rita Williams)
‘He was right about it being uncomfortable at times’, she said, ‘but he had also given me exercises to do at home each week to complement his treatments, teaching my husband so that he could support the treatment with the correct techniques.’
The Perrin Technique is now part of Rita’s life. She continues to visit The Perrin Clinic on a maintenance basis, and when at times she has had a relapse, the illness is easily managed by additional appointments.
She said: ‘Living with it now is not difficult because I have a maintenance system and that isn’t difficult.
‘What I have to be careful of is not to push me too much – but when you have been an active person, that’s the difficulty. It exacerbates it.
‘But it isn’t difficult because I know I have someone who understands me. Provided I don’t go too far, which I’ve learnt through the years to recognise, I can live a normal life. I understand now it’s a physical thing that can be treated.’
She says she ‘owes it all, absolutely’ to Dr Perrin, who has changed her life.
‘I would suggest that anybody who thinks they have CFS or ME should contact the Perrin Clinic because I can honestly say I would not be as active as I am if it hadn’t had been that chance conversation my daughter had with her director.’
Her health has improved so much that last year she cooked a three course celebration meal for 25 friends to celebrate her golden wedding anniversary.
‘It was one of the most enjoyable days of my life,’ she said. ‘I didn’t believe I could ever achieve that with my ME.’