IT‘S about this time of year many of us start dreaming of distant shores and summer holidays.
In recent years the ‘staycation’ has become popular with many opting to forgo jetting off abroad in favour of a destination closer to home.
They say travel broadens the mind. True – but you don’t necessarily need to travel thousands of miles to find that special somewhere. All of us have been to a place which has struck a chord for one reason or another, the memory of which stays with us for a variety of reasons – as our reporting team discovered when they pondered on a place which meant something to them.
MY FAVOURITE place isn’t particularly awe-inspiring, or even beautiful, but to me it is a reminder never to take your health for granted.
It is a small field behind my house on the outskirts of Nuneaton, not much bigger than half a football pitch.
But after months of being stuck in the house – which felt more like a prison – this field was the first place I visited, and where I felt my health was turning for the better.
Two years ago I was living life to the full, busy with a job I loved (and still love), going out, and looking to buy a house with my boyfriend.
The two of us went on a camping holiday to the South of France with some friends, stopping by a beautiful lake, exploring the white sandy beaches and trying our hand at al-fresco cooking.
The only downside to stopping outside was the number of mosquitoes – I was covered in angry, swollen bites.
Weeks after I returned, I woke up feeling completely exhausted, to the point where it was a struggle even to eat or talk. I was also suffering from the worst headache of my life, feeling like the back of my head was being squeezed in a vice.
I spent months visiting doctors, specialists and having tests and scans done. No one knew what was wrong with me.
Eventually a doctor said he believed I had a type of meningitis caused by an unknown virus. This was leading to inflammation in my brain.
As a result of this I developed Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME for short.
I spent months at home, not leaving my bedroom, dropping down to seven stone and suffering uncontrollable headaches.
I tried everything to beat the illness – with some treatments making me worse, but as most ME sufferers know, only rest helps.
Eventually I was put onto a cocktail of strong painkillers and supplements which offered some relief and after a while I started to feel like I had more energy.
I braved a walk around the small field with my dad and our dogs. I clung on to his arm the whole way, he compared our pace to a funeral march.
These baby steps signalled a turning point in my illness, and I started to look forward to my daily walks, enjoying the fresh air and laughing at my dogs playing in the river.
For months this is the only time I got out of the house, but now, two years later, I have something resembling a normal life back.
I still suffer from this illness but have refused to let it stop me. Most days I can walk around the field on my own, have the energy to talk to the other dog walkers and even play with my dogs. For an animal-lover like me, that is the ultimate therapy.