JUST days after being named Young Australian of the Year Jacqueline Freney has revealed she is battling chronic fatigue syndrome.
The Skennars Head Paralympic champion was diagnosed with the illness in the first week of January after eight months of testing to eliminate all other possibilities.
The 21-year-old, who was born with cerebral palsy, said extensive testing had to be done to ensure she was not suffering anything that would exacerbate her illness.
“The last 12 months have been quite a challenge for me,” she said.
“I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome so I am just taking things day by day at the moment.”
Chronic fatigue is a neurological illness that affects the central nervous system.
Sufferers of the illness experience flu like symptoms, pain, disrupted sleep, difficulty thinking, and changes in blood pressure, hormones and body temperature typically after exercising.
When she received her diagnosis, Ms Freney said she stopped training and focused on getting better.
“At the moment I am just trying to stay healthy and look after myself.”
But not training in the pool has been frustrating for someone who loves the water and swimming so much.
“I just love swimming so much; it’s my number one passion, so not being able to train has been frustrating,” she said.
“I really hope to get back into swimming soon and to go to Rio, that’s my ultimate goal.”
After winning eight gold medals at the London 2012 Paralympics, the fierce competitor said she was itching to get back in the pool.
“It’s a bit of an obstacle that I have to overcome, but I am still hopeful of going to the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016.”
How do you know? Symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome
PEOPLE with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, suffer flu-like symptoms following physical activity.
A neurological condition affecting the central nervous system, chronic fatigue syndrome can affect children or adults. Other symptoms include muscle and joint pain, disrupted sleep, difficulty thinking, and changes in blood pressure, hormones and body temperature.
About 250,000 Australians suffer CFS. Scientists have not yet discovered the cause of CFS or a cure, but it is believed genes are a factor in many cases.
In some sufferers, CFS can be triggered suddenly by a viral infection, toxic exposure, anaesthetic, immunisation, gastroenteritis or trauma.
About 25% of CFS sufferers have a mild form of the illness and are able to work or go to school, while 50% of sufferers have a moderate to severe CFS and can’t work or go to school.
The 25% of severe CFS are either housebound or bed bound.
Many people with CFS show improvement in the first five years after being diagnosed, some people suffer relapses, while some sufferers may remain housebound or bed bound for life.