Farmer says ME 'stole his childhood' on Isle of Man a year after specialised service launches

A farmer from the Isle of Man says his ME diagnosis 'stole his childhood', after living with the debilitating illness since the age of 12.

Thomase Cleator lives with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) while working on his family farm in Jurby.

He said: "Sometimes just coming out is enough for what I can do in that day, and just getting home again is a challenge".

He's been sharing his experience of living with ME on the island.

Thomase uses a quad bike to navigate around the farm to save energy. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Thomase was diagnosed with ME when he was 12-years-old.

At its worst, Thomase would spend many days in bed away from school, struck down with major fatigue and 'painful headaches'.

He said: "In a sense, I will always say it stole my childhood. Just getting out of bed was enough energy that I could expel, to the point where I needed help to get to the toilet.

"Some days, I didn't have the energy to brush my teeth myself. Which for a very active farm boy was incredibly difficult."

Thomase tending to his sheep on the family farm in Jurby. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

As a result of the ME, Thomase says his aspirations to leave the island and travel around the world have been severely limited.

He said: "I wanted to be an agricultural consultant, I wanted to travel the world, and even to this day it's unrealistic to move away from home and work on my own without a support system there."

While on the Isle of Man, his finds support in the company of his animals on the farm.

"They give you something to get up for in the morning and I very much think they can sense when I'm on a low because I'm not as 'with them', I'm much more 'out of it'.

"They mean the world to me, I couldn't be without them", he concluded.

The team at Manx Care offer a specialised service to those living with ME, long Covid and chronic fatigue syndrome. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

The Isle of Man is one of the few places in the British Isles with a service offering specialist treatment to those suffering with ME or long covid.

There are roughly 350 believed to be living with ME on the island, and this week marks a year since the clinic was launched.

Speaking on the stigma surrounding chronic fatigue, Thomase said: "If people actually understand it better, then it's a lot easier to manage.

"The team at Manx Care offer a specialised service to those living with ME, long Covid and chronic fatigue syndrome.

"A lot of this is just time that people need, and if they've got the time, it opens doors for the future".

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