Disabled Actress Cherylee Houston is Coronation Streets first ever full time disabled actress. Cherylee has EDS/HMS and fibromyalgia (like alot of people with eds/hms). And it seems the condition is finally going to be getting more recognised in the mainstream as Cherylee's character 'Izzy' also has the condition!.
The condition is going to be written into the show so I imagine that before long people will be hearing 'my joints dislocate easily' coming from their tv.
This is great news for members of the eds/hms community for many reasons.
First it will hopefully help raise some recognition of how serious and disabling the condition can be for some people. It will also help people with the condition get across to their family and friends how the condition can deteriate and to what level.
My biggest hope is that it helps raise awareness of the condition amongst drs who will finally be able to see that eds/hms doesn't just mean you are extra bendy but that it can result in serious disability.
Some people from some of the eds/hms online communities are worried that becuase Cherylee is a full time wheelchair user that people will think that if you have eds/hms you have to be in a wheelchair and that people will think that if you don't use a wheelchair you can't have the condition. They are worried that it might get the wrong message across and fail to show that the condition affects people very differntly. However I think it's about time that the condition was shown in its more serious form. It gets very tiring seeing the condition played down massively in medical literature, internet information sites and by drs. For me it will make a massive difference to be able to say to people 'I have the same thing as Izzy on Coronation Street' knowing that I then don't have to try explain why I'm not up and about walking around and living a normal life.
There hasn't been much talk on the condition on the show yet other than a brief explanation by Izzy when asked how she came to be in a wheelchair by kirk,
'Its a degenerative thing, its genetic'.
Some people from the bendy community aren't happy with this very basic explanation but in my opinion this is very accurate on how alot of us deal with questions on eds/hms from new people.
When people first ask about my condition and why I am in a wheelchair I usually say something very similar,
'I have a genetic condition that's got worse very quickly'.
Its only if that person sticks around that I will begin to explain the condition more but even then its usually
'my joints dislocate easily and I get very tired very quickly'.
The more detailed explanation only comes if a friendship develops. People might wonder why I, and many others with eds/hms, aren't as vocal about our condition as our blogs portray. For me it's because it's very difficult to explain the condition in enough detail to get the seriousness of it across quick enough so that the other person doesn't switch off.
Also my biggest worry is that I come across as bitter or a moaner about my condition so I tend to play it down alot in real life. It's very easy for people to assume you have more of an issue about your disability if you talk about it more. For me, this blog, facebook and the hmsa forum are the only place where I talk about eds/hms in any detail. New people in my life at the moment are only learning about the condition slowely as they ask more questions over time.
The only worry I have about the storyline of Izzy's eds/hms and fibromyalgia is that she hasn't yet appeared to have any issues with pain or exhaustion. eds/hms in itself leaves you in almost constant pain and with at least moderate fatigue. Fibromyalgia ontop of that would cause even more pain and more serious issues with exhaustion. However so far the character has yet to complain of pain or tiredness and is working full time in the show's 'Knicker Factory'.
I hope that the show's writers use Cherylee's own expereince of the condition to give an accurate portrayal of these main symptoms of the condition, although it wouldn't make much of a show if she slept through most of it!
However it does seem that itv are keen to not downplay the condition given the accurate description of 'Izzy's' eds/hms on the corrie website:
I hope that Cherylee's character and storyline on Coronation street will raise much needed awareness about the condition.
Cherylee has also appeared in Emmerdale, Little Britain, The Bill, Casualty and other tv shows.
For more information on Cherylee's acting career and her character on the show see