What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

When I was at Charlton Athletic in the 2000/2001 season I was struck down with a very mysterious illness called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E or what was commonly named yuppie flu.

All my life I have been a very fit and sports crazy athlete enjoying all kinds of sport and recreations such as Football, Cricket, Squash, Scuba Diving, Running, Pool and loads more activities. Becoming a Professional Footballer was the perfect outlet for my endless bags of energy.

Then all of a sudden in 2000 after a home game against Tottenham I felt like I was carrying heavy weights around the pitch for the whole 90 minutes. Not knowing what was wrong I assumed that I had a flu coming on and so the following week I did very little in training hoping to recover for the next game. I never wanted to miss matches and as I had been Charlton’s top scorer and the Division 1 Top scorer in the previous season I was keen to play in the next game. My start to the premiership season had given me 4 goals in 8 games including 2 goals against the almost complete England back four that were playing for Arsenal.

Needless to say I was confident and looking forward to the season. I played the following week against Newcastle and we beat them 1-0 at St James Park but I was so fatigued, I slept the entire journey home. And spent almost the whole of the next week laid up in bed. I then played my final professional game against Coventry City at home scoring with my last touch of the ball before Curbs had me removed from play. I couldn't move on the pitch.

The club sent me for tests, which revealed nothing abnormal. I then went to see the leading UK expert on the subject who gave me a graded recovery program, which involved a slow but steady increase in activity. I almost reached the fitness level required to return to full time playing but relapsed one more time. This is when I made the extremely difficult decision to quit Football at the early age of 30 years old, at the peak of my career. With new contract talks just begun at Charlton and a year to go on my contract it was financially a bit of a disaster for me. I had also been approached by Austria about playing international football for them but had to turn it down. But I was so depressed with the whole situation and physically I was a wreak.

I remember having to pull over on the side of the road after one training session because my vision had become blurred and I couldn't see the road in front of me. Sat on the A2 between the Charlton training ground and my home in Greenwich I finally decided to quit and walk out on my contract.

I sat in the dressing room at the Training ground after my 1 lap of the football fields, on my own, looking out the window at the rest of the team going through their paces. I couldn't really believe that what I was about to do would end my football career. However for my own health I felt that I had to make this decision. It's never easy going to see the boss in any job and often when you are visiting the football team manager it is with a sense of trepidation. Normally you are summoned to the bosses office to be told you are dropped for the next game (although fortunately for me I was rarely dropped from the starting line up). But this time I was dropping Charlton and my career as a Professional Footballer.

I knocked on Curbs office and proceeded to tell him that I wanted to quit. I dreaded every day going to the training ground to pound out my 1 lap of the field only to go home and collapse in bed for the rest of the day. So that was it. At the peak of my career and about to realize my dreams as a football player I quit due to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Charlton were very sympathetic to my situation and I'm sure they understood that I was happier quitting football rather than continuing what seemed to be a fruitless task of recovering from my illness. Professional Football is hard enough when you are fit and healthy so trying to play with CFS was impossible.

Still up until today I cannot put my finger on what causes this illness. 2 days ago I had a medical. My blood pressure is fine; my heart rate is great, oxygen levels great. Lungs fine. I even thought that I had Diabetes, as my father and his father both suffered with this illness. But my blood sugar levels have never showed this as the culprit. Even though many of the symptoms such as Dizziness, blurred vision, and extreme fatigue are all shared by Chronic Fatigue and Diabetes, I don't seem to have Blood Sugar level problems.

It is a very frustrating illness and one that has taken me several years to learn to live with. When I was a professional athlete I was used to pushing my body to its limit of physical endurance day after day in training. And I loved doing it. Now I cannot even come close to pushing myself to exhaustion because I would be laid up in bed for days even weeks. So I am very happy to have changed careers and to be living the Tropical Lifestyle, where I am able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and enjoy my work in Belize without having to suffer the consequences of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on a daily basis.

Go to the start of My Blog

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resources

Action for M.E
M.E Association
BBC Article
CFIDS

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great blog Andy. Despite what you have gone through you will always be a hero at the Valley.Keep up the good work . John (bedfordshire)

DJL said...

You are a charlton legend without you in that championship winning season we may not have gone up. good luck for the future and please come back to the valley to do the valley gold draw or something!

Anonymous said...

Oh Andy Hunt, OH ANDY HUNT, he plays up front, HE PLAYS UP FRONT, oohhh Andy Hunt he plays up front... he's got a name like a fanny, oh Andy Hunt he plays up front.

Chris Wright said...

Andy, you are a legend mate, it was such a shame what happened to you.

All the best

Chris Wright - Newbury, Berkshire (Formerly Dartford)

Glenn Southam (WSS) said...

Good to see you're still doing well Andy.

Always welcome back down at The Valley and you truly are a top bloke and a top player.

See if you can get a game for the Vets or something! ;-)

Thanks for the memories fella.

Anonymous said...

I was going to say I was as gutted as you when you retired but I don't think I could even guess how you felt. Anyway as previously said you'll always be welcome at the Valley. One of the best strikers I've seen at the Valley in the past 25 years.

Andy said...

Im glad youve come to terms and can cope with this illness, that is half the battle. I hope to see you one day again at THE VALLEY gracing our hallowed turf.
Good luck Andy
Andy Abbey Wood

mick.S said...

Hi Andy glad to hear you are doing OK it was nice to see you when you came back and played in the reserves and scoring goals you are realy missed god bless mate

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