Ian Cleary

My story

My name is Alex Lambert I am 17 years old and I am studying for my A levels in Brighton, UK. When I was about 14 I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, specifically mitochondria failure, which my father also had. This is the story of the build up to CFS and my recovery.

The first signs of my CFS were when I was 13 during my last year at prep school. I was a county standard cross-country runner with several gold medals under my belt. I was very keen on most sports, I did a lot of drama and I was also taking an academic scholarship to my senior school. So, I had a lot going on! The first symptoms were recurring injuries that badly affected my running. I was very angry and quite depressed. I hated running and loved winning, so being injured was not fun as I didn’t win anymore. The second major symptom was repeated bouts of tonsillitis which resulted on me missing out on playing the lead role, Miranda in Shakespeares The Tempest at the Globe theatre in London. The disappointment of this is still with me now.

So, I started my first year of senior school. This was a huge move and a very tough one to make. The added stress of leaving my best friends and starting a huge new school did not help my health. That year I quit running, I wasn’t winning anymore no matter how hard I trained and I couldn’t stand it.

During my second year at senior school I had settled down well and was really enjoying school. I played for 3 different hockey teams within the school. This put a huge strain on me. I can remember really clearly playing 3 all day tournaments in a row for 3 different teams. The day after all of these tournaments my mum came to wake me up for school and I literally couldn’t get out of bed, it stayed like that for about two weeks. My dad had been saying for a while he thought I might have CFS. So, first things first I went to my GP to get tested for glandular fever, which turned out negative. Then I went to my dads homeopathic GP who tested me for CFS, which was positive. At the time I took it really well and didn’t see it as too much of a big deal. However, as time went on I soon realised it really was a huge deal.

The whole year was awful I was barely at school and few of my friends actually understood what was wrong with me no matter how hard I tried to explain. Things reached a head in June 2007. My dad decided that sending me to stay with my sister in Australia would be good respite not only for me but also for all the family; apparently I wasn’t the easiest person to live with!

When I was in Aus with my big sister she began talking about some of her mates who had had CFS and done some treatment called the lightning process and who were totally fit and healthy again. I had briefly heard of the lightning process but was very sceptical. Also I saw the lightning process as my last chance at being well again and found it difficult to take the plunge. Any way with some persuasion mum and I drove up to see Ian.

As I think back to that journey I was feeling pretty crappy. I didn’t want this to be my last chance. I was dreading so much that the lightning process wouldn’t work just like the other methods hadn’t worked.

Mum and I arrived and we went straight into the programme. At first I was a classic moody teenager, I didn’t engage and in hindsight must have come across as very rude! However Ian persevered. Mum and I found the process very uncomfortable on that first day. It was very emotional for both of us and we were thrown out of our comfort zones. At the end of that first day the theory of the lightning process started to make scientific sense. Mum and I were elated and really excited at the prospect of completely the course. I remember really clearly when the treatment was complete Ian’s wife saying ”How does it feel not to have CFS anymore?” and finding it so overwhelming that in 48 it had gone. This was an incredible turning point. All four of us were grinning. I kept saying ‘so I can go and play hockey and run again?’ and Arzu kept saying ‘yes! You can do whatever you want!’ she had to say it a few times!

On the way back mum and I were in a state of shock and didn’t really know what to do. So we stopped off went shopping and had an ice cream! When we arrived back at my sisters, Josie and her partner Brett were asking how it went and it felt like such an anti climax! I had been ill for 2 years and in 2 days I was cured I was still so shocked. I waited a few days before I rang my dad to speak to him. I was expecting an emotional phone call. But it was just happy and calm. I couldn’t believe after all dads and I had endured that it was over.

It took around 2 months for the process to fully imbed itself. The real test was going back to school, the process excelled itself. There were moments when I found it hard to tell the difference between fatigue and just being tired and run down but I soon figured it out. I went back into full time school and gained four As and Bs in my GCSEs just getting me a place at my chosen college. I am so proud of this achievement, which I owe to Ian, Arzu and the lightning process.

Now nearly two years on, I am just completely my first year at college. I am about to sit four AS levels. I played a successful season in the 1st XI hockey team and I am doing athletics again. I ran my first 800m race in three years and came 4th. I am also a beach lifeguard and train in twice a week and patrol on the weekends. I am heading out to Australia this summer to see my sister again, how things have changed since the last time.

Ian and Arzu gave me a rubber duck for use as a prop during the training. It sits on the side of the bath tub and every time I have a bath or shower I look at that rubber duck and think about what it represents; health.

For anyone suffering from CFS or similar illnesses take the plunge, swallow your pride do the process and start living the life you love!

Alex (2009)



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