From the Howick and Pakuranga Times, New Zealand, 10 January 2008
FOR once it is the doctor and not her patients feeling overwhelmed.
That was the reaction Dr Rosamund Vallings, who was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
“It has been a little overwhelming,” the Clevedon resident told the Times between patients at her Ridge Rd practice.
She is New Zealand’s leading specialist on chronic fatigue syndrome; an interest peaked back in the early 1960s while working in her native-England.
“I was working in a hospital in London and we saw it quite a bit among the staff at another nearby hospital – who became chronically ill.
“It became known as Royal Free disease, in reference to the hospital where these people were working.”
In 1966 came to New Zealand and set up her general practice in Bucklands Beach before setting up in Howick several years later.
In 1973 she was a co-researcher into the condition also known as Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME) at the Department of Rheumatology at the University of Auckland.
“During and after the research I kept in touch with some of the participants as their doctor.
“I also established an education and support group where people could go to learn more about their condition and how to manage it.”
CFS, ME or Tapanui Flu – are all common names for the condition and Dr Vallings says it is a lot more common that people think.
“It’s thankfully a lot more recognised today too, among the general public, but more importantly among the medical community.”
Dr Vallings can take a fair share of the credit for that greater recognition, as she travels extensively attending conferences, giving lectures, participating in research, and producing comprehensive information for patients and doctors.
“I recently had an article published in NZ Doctor and write and maintain the management guidelines for doctors.”
She has published and presented papers at many international conferences and was elected to the editorial board of the US Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 2001.
Dr Vallings says CFS is a real medical condition that can strike at the most healthiest of people.
“You often find very busy people or very sporty people who have had a virus of some sort and then not had time to recover properly can be susceptible the condition.
“We’re not talking about being a little tired. This condition, as the name suggests, is chronic and can be life altering to those with it and ongoing for years.”
As the only GP few specialising in the area, she is in constant demand with patients from throughout New Zealand and even some overseas.
She has been medical advisor to the Associated New Zealand Myalgic Encephalopathy Society (ANZMES) since 1980 and was president for seven years.
In hearing of the honour, Whatakane ME sufferer Steve Napier said: “Dr Valling’s very sound and practical advice allow me to continue working through my illness. Without her help I would have had to close my business down.”