Chris Waters of the Yorkshire Post met up with Yorkshire’s opener Joe Sayers recently. We are reproducing the article on the YCCC site as we know many of you are concerned about Joe and wish him well…
Yorkshire batsman Joe Sayers is suffering from an illness that left him so tired he could barely walk up a flight of stairs. Sayers has been diagnosed with Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome (PVFS) – a condition linked with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and ME. The 26-year-old has not played for Yorkshire since pulling out of the County Championship match against Lancashire at Old Trafford in late June.
It had been thought Sayers was suffering with asthma, which has affected him since childhood. But respiratory problems preceded more serious episodes of tiredness, headaches and joint pain, leading to a number of blood tests and medical investigations.
Sayers told the Yorkshire Post: “Over the last few weeks I’ve been seeing the club doctor and also the haematologist at the Nuffield Hospital in Leeds and have now been diagnosed with Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome. As the name suggests, it something that occurs after the onset of a virus and it’s left me exhausted. It’s basically a milder version of more chronic forms that have labels like ME and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It completely wipes you out and saps all your energy. I’m starting to feel a bit better now, but when the symptoms were at their worst a few weeks ago, just walking up a flight of stairs rendered me very tired. Once it got to about 3pm, I was totally exhausted and straight to bed. I was sleeping long hours, waking up and feeling as though I’d not slept at all. For someone who’s used to being fit, active and in decent shape, it was quite a shock.”
Sayers, who scored 1,103 Championship runs last season at 42.42, believes his problems stem from last winter.
“When I was away with England Lions in Pretoria in December, I picked up gastroenteritis and was bedridden for about 10 days,” he said. “I’ve not really felt 100 per cent since, and the club doctor thinks it’s been a contributory factor. There were about eight or nine players who picked up symptoms of food poisoning during that trip, but my symptoms were a lot more severe. I needed a big dose of antibiotics just to get me home on the plane.”
Sayers recovered to play the opening eight Championship games of this season before his problems returned.
“Just before the Lancashire match, I seemed to pick up a virus,” he added. The combination of that, plus the difficulties I had during the winter, allied to a fairly heavy schedule, seems to have caused the fatigue. They still don’t know what the virus was, but it seems to have gone now and it’s just the exhaustion that’s left. Initially, it was respiratory symptoms associated with asthma that prevented me playing, but the asthma was a side issue and a symptom of the underlying virus.”
Around 250,000 people in the UK have conditions associated with chronic fatigue. It is more common in women than men and usually develops during the early 20s to mid 40s.
“In the past, when I’ve heard of people having illnesses like this, I’ve been slightly sceptical,” added Sayers. “But having gone through the last two months, I’m a lot more understanding. I’m told the recovery times vary from person to person, but the doctor is confident mine will be fairly short because I’m in decent shape to start with. It’s just a case of taking things step by step.”
Sayers admitted he tried to return to Yorkshire action only for his condition to deteriorate.
“I played the odd game for Hoylandswaine in the Huddersfield League, but that showed me I wasn’t even fit enough to play for the Yorkshire second team,” he said. “Two or three times I tried to get back playing for Yorkshire but the symptoms returned and became more severe. So it’s got to the stage where we’ve said it’s more important to get myself right rather than push for any day in particular to get back into action. I won’t be playing again this season, but I hope to start some training again in a couple of weeks, build things up and be back next year.”
Sayers said he had been heartened by the support he has received from Yorkshire and their supporters.
“The club have been fantastic and I know the members have been asking after me, which is really uplifting,” he added. “I’m glad to say I’m having more good days now than not-so-good and that I’m sleeping a lot better. Although it’s frustrating to be out of action, I’m confident I’ll get through this and come back stronger. Hopefully, I’ll be able to look back on this period in a few months’ time and see it as a useful pit-stop and a chance to take a running start at the rest of my career.”