Kirsty Young’s health: ‘I felt pathetic’ – star in her crippling four-year health battle

“It is a unique moment. We will never see him again, certainly in our lifetimes and maybe never, so I couldn’t resist,” Young said when asked about his upcoming role within the Anniversary. With four days of live broadcasts ahead of her, the first of which starts today (Thursday, June 2), Young is jumping right into the deep end, a stark contrast to 2018 when she thought she’d never work again. The former Desert Island Discs host recently opened up about the chronic health conditions she’s been struggling with for the past four years and the “dead ends” doctors sent her down before receiving proper treatment.

In 2018, the star was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a serious condition that causes “pain throughout the body”, as described by the NHS.

Speaking honestly about her ordeal, Young revealed that the pain and other subsequent symptoms were sometimes so intense that she felt as if she had been hit “with a baseball bat” and “drugged”.

First noticing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, which later caused fibromyalgia, Young said: “I had extreme joint pain.

“I would wake up and feel like I had glass in my joints. In the morning, I felt as if someone had walked in with a baseball bat and given me a ‘do’, as we say in Glasgow, in the evening.

READ MORE: Arthritis breakthrough: Research may have found a way to treat and even reverse arthritis

Suffering from interrupted sleep due to immense pain, Young would have to deal with crippling exhaustion during the day.

“I couldn’t go upstairs without stopping in the middle,” he went on to explain.

“It’s not like tiredness if you’ve taken a long walk or done some gardening. It’s like someone drugged me, like you took a sleeping pill at the wrong time of day and you’re going crazy.”

The NHS explains that the exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but it is thought to be related to “abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain” and specific changes in the way the brain, spinal cord and nerves process pain messages that are transmitted throughout the body. .


For some people, fibromyalgia can be triggered by a stressful physical or emotional event. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists rheumatoid arthritis as one of the top risk factors for the condition, along with lupus and older age.

The most characteristic symptom of fibromyalgia is an increased sensitivity to pain, with something as simple as touching the sides of a sofa with your forearm enough to make an adult cry. Young explained that the term “fibrofog” is used to describe the distortion between reality and not, as people think they are dealing with “pain all the time.”

She said: “I remember I took a bottle of water and it was too heavy for me. I dropped it and she crashed to the ground. The children laughed but I could feel tears in my eyes. I felt pathetic that I couldn’t even lift a bottle of water. I just felt totally physically incapable.”

Other potential symptoms that may develop as a result of the condition include:

  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Muscular stiffness
  • Difficulty to sleep
  • Problems with mental processes (known as “fibro-fog”), such as problems with memory and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating.

Young has a condition known as secondary fibromyalgia, which differs slightly from primary fibromyalgia. Although there is no universally agreed-upon definition of the two, Dr. Kahler Hench, the originator of the term fibromyalgia, provided this definition in the past.

“Fibrositis is considered primary when there is no associated underlying disorder and secondary when it occurs in patients with an underlying rheumatic disease or other organic disease.”

Despite the slightly different causes of primary and secondary fibromyalgia, research has found that both cause similar symptoms. However, people with secondary fibromyalgia may also have another condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which causes more difficulties.

For Young, it was the combination of her two conditions that made receiving treatment increasingly complex. Describing his frustrating search for help, he said, “Rheumatoid arthritis is easier, but my fibromyalgia was muddying the waters.

“I had the wrong doctors and the wrong medication and they were treating things that weren’t there.”

After a painstakingly long battle, Young finally found a doctor who said that while he couldn’t cure the conditions, he could help her control them. However, there was a heartbreaking catch, the star had to quit her job.

With a “complex cocktail” of medication, seeing her doctor every three weeks, and practicing yoga and meditation, Young has managed to get her condition under control after four years.

Surprisingly, the star went on to explain how the entire ordeal has given her a new perspective on life. She added: “I’m off most of my medication, but that’s four years, that’s how long it took me, and I did all the things they told me to do. I am absolutely bored about my gut biome now. I could take your panties off with that.

Although Young was able to afford private medical care to manage her condition, for those on the NHS, fibromyalgia treatment tends to be a combination of the following:

  • Medications, such as antidepressants and pain relievers
  • Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and counseling
  • Lifestyle changes, such as exercise programs and relaxation techniques.

Exercise in particular has been found to have a number of important benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including helping to reduce pain.

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