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balloons
This last weekend I went to my sister’s wedding. My partner drove me and the dog the five hours each way to Wales and we stayed with my mum, which was really good, except for our room being on the third floor!!

 

I was quite worried about going as my levels of energy and stamina have been so low recently and the thought of the travel, talking to so many people, getting through the wedding day itself, potential payback and just everything about it was very daunting.

BUT it went quite well. We came back on Tuesday and although i don’t feel too good, ache all over quite seriously, and seem to be getting a cold, and can feel there are still days of recovery to go; I can say i have survived!

There were some very dodgy moments: on the wedding day i felt pretty bad in the church. I already had “permission” from the vicar not to stand for hymns etc (which on the one hand seems silly as if you can’t you shouldn’t need to get permission, but as i was in the front row it did make me feel more comfortable with not getting up to know that most people knew why) but i had to not sing as i was so lightheaded as well. After the service we went to the reception and i could hardly hold my head up and keep my eyes open until lunch came at half past 3! I ate it then left for bed before the speeches. I could not really rest properly but had two, one hour rests with some food in between, then at 8pm went back to join in the evening do. I actually got a second wind and really enjoyed it: talking to people, meeting some of their friends i had heard about but never met, as well as some of his family and actually DANCED with my sister (for half a song – maybe 2 mins) but my spontaneous act made her cry, which set me off too and it was a good “moment”! She has ME as well, so it meant a lot to us to dance together!

My body seemed to find some energy or be running on adrenaline for several days, which was very convenient, if a little unwise. It was nice to feel it perform for the occasion, even if it goes against all the pacing rules. I could feel it waning by monday, as even though i rested well on sunday i still felt ok. The journey back was hard. It went fine and the traffic was fine, it was just my body and my brain that were not and i found it very hard to cope with. It was like being strapped to the front of a torpedo and rocketting forward out of control not knowing what i would hit, but feeling very much in danger. Not being the driver can feel scary, even when i do trust the driver as motorways can be scary places – but when my brain is not processing information properly i think it feels much more scary. I would have been happier on a horse and cart going about ten miles per hour – it would feel less violent. I also found i was pushing my feet into the floor of the car when we were braking as if to help us stop subconsciously. Even when i realised i was doing it late into the journey (leg pain was a giveaway) i found it hard to stop… just so exhausted and wound up.

So i think i have not perhaps even properly crashed yet… i am in pain and i am spending a lot of time in bed but i am ok. I hope this is it, but i fear i have a cold so this week may not be much fun. At least i can sit in the sun a bit if the forecast is right! I am so glad i was there and took my place at a family event.

It was lovely weather when we were there and the day after the wedding lots of hot air balloons flew by, which was a really nice surprise! I love the sound of them and have always wanted to go up in one. It was nice to have that random surprise event too!

On Thursday i had a full body massage and (possibly) learnt more about my body than i expected! Certainly i am asking more questions!

It was much needed as I had had a bad headache for 3-4 days and even when that improved i was left with so much tension in my head, neck and shoulders that it was still painful to touch many areas. I often/always have these tender points, in my upper back, shoulders, jaw, scalp etc. They are little knots of pain and i am unsure what i can do to ease them. Anything which helps seems very temporary and they always return to their previous level of tenderness within a short time. These symptoms were at their worst before i started to take Midodrine, which did seem to ease the almost nightly headaches (as more blood was flowing to my upper torso and head – which is kind of useful to have!), but every now and again they do resurface and there is always that underlying muscle pain and tension. I am wondering if the higher dose of Midodrine i am on is causing this clenching up of my muscles, (i did have worse upper back pain the last time i tried to up the dose) but of course it could be a myriad of other causes…

So that was my motivation for going, as well as the fact that i have a busy weekend away coming up (my sister’s wedding!) the prospect of which is causing me some anxiety, as travel and social situations always do, due to how difficult they can be to take part in and the impact they can have on my health for weeks afterwards – there have been moments where i have doubted i am well enough to go at all, but i am feeling more positive now, and looking forward to actually attending a family event for once!

I have not been for a massage for a long time and it was so good. As always when i go, i realise how much it was needed, discover areas of pain and tension i was not immediately aware of, and think how much it would help me to have a massage much more regularly. I do not know if that would create any long term improvement, or prevent my muscles getting into such a state or if the relief is just temporary… I think it would take a lot of massages and more than i can afford anyway!

When the massage started she did my face and front of shoulders and upper arms, and immediately on touching my upper arms, said there were a row of knots down the front (it was very sore there with even a light touch, which i have been aware of for months). She asked me if i do weight training! Apparently they are “Weight-Lifters Knots”!! I did laugh at that. I explained to her that i struggle to lift even small things, like the kettle, and that my muscles do not behave like normal muscles, as they quickly lose power and energy and over-react with pain and tension for a long time if “over worked”…. She was very surprised and said that she would have thought i was a weight lifter if i had not told her… She asked again to clarify: “so you couldn’t go to the gym and lift a few weights?” “Er, no, really, most days i cannot get as far as the corner shop, i rarely leave the house… i could not get to the gym, never mind do anything when i got there” or words to that effect… As keen as i am to educate people about ME and spread awareness it is quite a pain to have to use time when i am supposed to be relaxing (and I am paying) to explain this stuff but i answered a few more questions (no, i don’t just fall asleep all the time, i am not just tired, i am ill… etc etc blah blah blah).

Anyway, it is reassuring that my muscles appear normal in size etc after 3 years of pretty severe ME and ten years in total of being unable to do any kind of “exercise” as the term is generally understood, though i was more active for several years than i am able to be now. It is something which has baffled doctors and led to people being disbelieved and denied benefits (still are, if you read the guidelines for decisionmakers for DLA on ME/CFS which suggest there should be muscle wasting in evidence to qualify as severe… will find link if anyone interested, but can’t be bothered now!)  as doctors would expect more muscle wasting considering the lifestyle we claim to lead. There have been different theories about why it only happens in people who are very severely affected but it is not fully understood how our muscles maintain their tone.

It seems that my muscles are reacting as if they are overworked. In a way they are (yes i am a closet weight-lifter!): As i say, they struggle with everyday tasks like lifting a kettle, moving a chair, lifting a watering can. What is even harder and has a more long term effect is anything repetitive, like rubbing to clean the bath before i get in, chopping something, rubbing my scalp when washing my hair, and i generally avoid this kind of activity when i can as it leads to muscle pain, long term aches and cramping, as well as adding to a feeling of general weakness and exhaustion afterwards. Some days are better than others, depending on my general state and if i am already in recovery from something or struggling in general.

So far, so much i already knew. What i found intriguing was that, as well as my upper arms, my lower legs at the sides (from ankle bone up, on outsides of legs) were also incredibly sore to the touch and knotty under the skin. I have been having really sensitive skin in these areas (upper arms and legs) as well as itching. My legs in that area are so sensitive that if something touches them unexpectedly (like in bed) it is like a bolt of electricity running through my whole body. I have a real problem of certain areas of skin being so easily irritated and therefore often itchy that it affects my sleep as well as what clothes i can wear. I have to “sweep” out the bed before i get in to get rid of any tiny bits of dirt or dead skin or whatever that has been carried in from the floor, as any of this stuff (which i call “Gravel” as it is so sharp to me, though tiny) can cause a major episode of itching.  I find if there is dead skin on those areas it triggers itching and if i moisturise after a bath and the dead skin rubs off (gross i know, but it does) the itching stops, despite me having rubbed it, which is usually something i avoid as it can trigger the itching. I was starting to think that my nerves were over sensitive and that i had a problem with my skin and pain, though i had no idea what to do about it. This may be partly true but the massage therapist seemed to think that the knots and tension in those areas may be partly causing this extreme discomfort i am having in the skin of these areas. I suppose it makes sense as that underlying tension must affect the skin and could make it more tender and sensitive in the whole area surrounding the problem.

I have heard varoius people asking about skin itching and if it is a symptom of ME. There was a letter in a recent ME Association magazine, and one on a message board i saw recently too. They caught my eye as i have had these problems for a long time. The consensus seems to be that, no, itchiness is not a symptom, but it seems to me in bodies that are riddled with problems that there can be knock-on implications causing almost anything!! (what a cheery thought). My sister has ME and also has problems with itching and sensitive skin.

I have another problem of itching which may or may not be related where if i have a shower my lower legs in particular always react very severely and start to itch. It can last for several hours and all i can do is sit in bed and stroke the skin gently which seems to confuse the nerve signals a little. It can be so painful that i am in tears and is obviously exhausting and distressing. It is like nerve pain, i think the word itching does not do it justice! I never shower now, and the rare occasion that i have (when no bath available) it still happens.

It also sometimes happens after a bath, particularly if the water is not hot enough. I think there is something to do with temperature, as it seems to happen when i get out of the bath and the cold air hits my legs. It first happened when i was 13 years old, so i wonder if there is a hormonal influence. The stimulation of the shower may trigger the itching sometimes, or it could be a problem of being upright, as in the shower and when i get out of the bath. These days i have a very strict ritual around my bath, the temperature, shaving (stubble and hair seem to aggravate the problem so i have to shave every 2-3 days, which is a big comittment when ill), standing for as little time as possible and exposing my legs to as little cool air as possible on energing from the bath. I get straight into bed and moisturise with my tried and tested “safe” moisturiser, then lie there allowing any itching to subside and i cool down slowly and in a controlled manner. I have also noticed it can be worse in Autumn and wonder again if the dead skin as my (usually meagre) tan fades is irritating my skin… so many questions.

Of course i have told a few doctors about this over the years and they have no idea! There is no rash and that is where the discussion ends…

Anyway, i had another massage today (trying for a compound effect) which was great again. I asked her what her advice would be to weight lifters who have “weight-lifter’s knots” and she said that stretching can really help. I already do stretch tense areas, but kind of randomly. When my POTS was at it’s worst i couldn’t even stretch up in a chair without serious dizziness but that is better now… Maybe i should make more effort to do it several times a day and see if it helps… so many things to fit into my day though!

ME/CFS Awareness
Well, It is International ME Awareness Day 2009 on May 12th,

AND also the first anniversary of my blog!

It has been quite a year for me, health-wise, but you can read about that in previous posts…

ME/CFS Awareness

Many people are making it into ME Awareness Week and even ME Awareness MONTH, so i thought, why not do a few blog posts throughout the month on various aspects of this illness, to do my bit to spread some very important information and awareness about ME.

ME/CFS Awareness

I know, i know, there are hundreds of illness out there and no-one can know all about them all, so what is the point? Well, if you read the blue ribbon badges running through this post, you may get a few reasons. ME has been getting a raw deal: it is misrepresented by the media, and (deliberately in some cases it seems) misunderstood by the medical profession, and given next to no funding by the government into its cause or into treatments – despite the large number of people it affects and how severely. We are offered nothing except coping and “management” techniques – most of them really make little difference to our experience at all.

Just by reading this and understanding that it is not “all in the head” and not just about “liking to lie in bed all day” and that so much more could be done and needs to be done to give people with ME (pwME) an equivalent level of care and credibility to other equivalently serious diseases; you are helping to change general opinion about ME.

The more people that know what it is like, and can challenge people who laugh about pwME in the pub (they do – i have heard them) and who call it “Yuppie Flu” (as if we would get up and work if we needed money badly enough); the less the powers that be will be able to plead ignorance and ignore the facts – we need to turn the tide… AND, next time you meet someone with ME, or someone you know becomes ill with it, you will know enough to make them feel less isolated and that there is no support or understanding out there for them.

ME/CFS Awareness

I will post links to my individual posts here so they are kind of organised ( i will update this as i add new posts)…

  1. The first one is my exploration of all my Symptoms, to try to show that ME is not just about feeling tired, there is a LOT more to it than that.
  2. I then did a second post to follow this up, about the Impact of those symptoms. on my ability to function/live life, and also the Things that people say to me about my illness
  3. Then there is: You look well!
  4. (maybe more to come!)

If you want to read what other pwME are writing about, and to find lots of information about ME, go to http://meaware.wordpress.com where RachelCreative has been working hard, creating these badges and the site as a hub for all of us who are “Blogging for ME Awareness!”

We have all put in a lot of effort and appreciate you coming to take a look 🙂

 

ME/CFS AwarenessME/CFS AwarenessME/CFS Awareness

So, feel free to have a read, and if you have learnt anything, or were surprised by anything i have written, let me know! I am really interested to know what people who do not have ME know about it, what messages about it they have picked up along the way, and if i, or any other blogger for ME Awareness has changed/challenged any of that, or if you already had a pretty good idea already…

Also see this great & imaginative campaign to raise One Million Pounds for ME research this year: http://justfourquid.com/ Let’s do it!


(This is one of several posts i have written for ME Awareness Day – click here to see my main page and link to the other things i have written, and click here to see what everyone else is blogging about!)

I have been mulling over what to write about for ME Awareness Day 2009 for the last few weeks… there are so many issues that i could talk about, personal, political, medical – but in the end i thought i would keep it simple (that was before i started to actually list my symptoms!) and share with people all the symptoms i have experienced in the last few years (I have been ill for over ten years but will focus on the last three years since i left my part-time job when things got worse again. Apart from the initial period of illness, the past three years have been the most consistently severe).

I want to convey the very important message that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (my official diagnosis) IS NOT JUST FATIGUE!!

(I should mention here that i also have another (additional) diagnosis of “POTS” (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) which is a collection of symptoms relating to my Autonomic Nervous System not working properly. Apart from the tachycardia and nearly passing out, I cannot really separate the two illnesses or sets of symptoms as they are interrelated and i have no idea which causes what much of the time, never mind if they are actually part of the same condition/illness. Quite a lot of people with CFS/ME also have POTS and most others will have symptoms of autonomic dysfunction to some extent; particularly those who are moderately to severely affected. These can include: Dizziness and lightheadedness, digestive problems, problems with standing and being upright (feeling much better lying down), lack of temperature control, circulation problems and blood pooling in lower limbs, and many more). 

I do not like the name Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS); i think it does minimise the complexity of the illness and lead to many people claiming to have it, or being diagnosed with CFS, who actually do not have it. People can be tired out and run down for many reasons and this can drag on and affect their lives very negatively, and i have every sympathy for them, but it does not mean they have the same illness that i have. Maybe we can all get appropriate treatment once this is sorted out. I won’t get into all the ins and outs of this issue here (the variety of diagnostic criteria used to diagnose and the implications this has on credible research into the condition/or conditions) but i feel it is really worth emphasising the full range of symptoms and bodily systems affected by CFS/ME, many of which perhaps do not get mentioned.

It particularly frustrates me when doctors and other medical professionals (who should know better) say to me, when i am feeling particularly bad at an appointment, and have lost the ability to speak clearly and express myself:

“Yes, I know, you are feeling very tired today”

I suppose they are attempting empathy and trying to make me feel understood, but i just scream inside that they know nothing if they still think of CFS/ME in this way. I do NOT feel tired: i feel physically and severely ILL. I feel that essential bodily functions/systems are shutting down one by one and it is truly frightening to experience my body in this state of crisis.

I often feel i am moaning on too long for people to tolerate if i talk about my symptoms in detail, in fact i often do not focus in on them myself unless they are severe as it is just easier to get through the day by distracting myself from them/ignoring them as much as possible… but here they are in all their glory…

me-symptoms-picture
 
(List of symptoms included at end of post in case you cannot read the image)(To see the image larger, click on it, which will link to Flickr)

 This is just a personal picture,of course, and other people will have a different set of symptoms and will experience my more minor symptoms as major and vice versa. I have found that the symptoms seem to evolve and change over time, some improve, but often others move in and take their place, so it feels that quality of life does not change much overall.

The implications of these symptoms obviously affect every single minute of my life, and everything i (attempt to) do. Everything i do manage to do comes at a high “price” in terms of having chosen it over other things (this often means choosing between things that others would deem as all “essential” tasks to do in a day) as well as in terms of what is officially called “post exertional malaise” or otherwise known as “payback” (if i do something that uses too much energy/exertion i will then have a period of hours/days/weeks where i am operating at a much lower level of functioning and experience many more symptoms, and more severely, than usual) so every little thing needs to be considered as to it’s importance in relation to how strong i am feeling at the time, a wearying decision-making process in itself, and always a gamble…

I have made two more pictures like this, about other aspects of ME: the impact of these symptoms on my ability to function, and the things that people (mostly medical professionals) have said to me about my illness. Click here to read that post too!

Please do not use my image/artwork without asking!
Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

******

Symptoms: Vertigo, noise sensitivity, tightness of scalp, sensitivity to light, lack of stamina, nosebleeds, dizziness when standing, sitting, moving, speaking or concentrating, tinnitus, TMJ (Jaw joint) dysfunction, breathlessness, light-headedness, eye muscles slow to react to light/focus, tension headaches, clicking of back, neck and other joints, facial paralysis, dry eyes, constant thirst, aching eyes, blurred vision, mental fatigue, tri-geminal neuralgia, neck, shoulder and upper back pain and tension, painful points on scalp and upper back, hormonal issues, reactive depression, swollen and painful lymph nodes, shivering/goose bumps/spasms when not cold, sensitivity to movement in visual field, tachycardia (POTS), memory and concentration problems, difficulty speaking, pallor, weak bladder, almost fainting, pins and needles/severe itching of legs, shaking, muscular weakness and fatigue, ticks/twitches in muscles, lacking in energy, paralysis on waling, defecation syncopy, IBS, freezing cold feet when body hot, lack of stress tolerance, movements slowed, need to be horizontal and have bed-rest in day, weight gain/loss, post-exertional malaise/payback, disturbed/prolonged sleep, generalised weakness, lack of body temperature regulation, excessive sweating, hot flushes, trembling leg muscles, walking difficulties, sensitive skin – easily irritated and painful to touch, heavy aching thighs.

(This is one of my “Blogging for ME Awareness Day” posts – see the rest of my posts for this event here, and what others are writing/doing here!)

Here are some additional pictures, following on from my previous post and the image of my Symptoms.

One is showing the impact of my symptoms (see the connected post first) on my life and ability to function, and the other is  some of the things that people say to me about my illness.

Impact:

impact-picture(click on the image to link to Flickr, where you can view “all sizes” and see the image much larger, to make it easier to read. The text in the image is reproduced at the end of this post for those using a screen reader).

There is much more i could have included in this image, had i the space, and the impact of the “things people say” image (below) would be another picture in itself!

Things People Say:

 things-they-say-to-me-picture

 (click on the image to link to Flickr, where you can view “all sizes” and see the image much larger, to make it easier to read. The text in the image is reproduced at the end of this post for those using a screen reader).

The bold quotes are what medical professionals have said to me, the unbolded are the general public. Of course these are just a selection, some i have heard many times. I have focussed on medical ones as it hurts the most coming from them…

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The effect of all of this is, of course; social isolation, depression, frustration, difficulty maintaining relationships with friends and family and meeting new people, difficulty pursuing interests, difficulty being a member of any community (except the online ME community – thank goodness for internet) and much more… 

…and we are largely left to get on with it, or to fight: for credibility, benefits, medical attention or other support, and for research into treatments and causes which is only just beginning, and not government backed.

I feel there could be many more pictures to make in this vein, but perhaps these three give some idea and increased awareness of the lot of people with ME…

One other idea was to label the body with the findings of abnormalities from medical research to date, to show how much has been discovered already about the physical basis of this condition, but it has taken me weeks to do what i have done already for this year’s ME Awareness Day and the thought of searching through medical info and jargon was a bit overwhelming! Maybe another time…

Please do not use my image/artwork without asking!
Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

******

text from pictures is below:

 Impact:
Travelling anywhere very challenging due to sensory overload of visual stimuli (light/movement), noise, speaking to people, strong smells; plus the effort of getting ready, stress of remembering what I need, pain from bad seating, having to walk/stand on demand, and more, mean the I often feel terrible after only short journeys, meaning I am not well enough to do whatever I went out for and need to get home to bed asap to recover. If this is not possible I can become very ill and be barely able to speak of walk.
Being in bright, noisy, hot, busy environments like restaurants, cinemas, shops or other social settings is very draining.
Sitting on any chair/sofa that is not fully supportive of spine and head soon causes pain and takes more effort/energy to hold myself up. It is hard to know in advance if there will be anywhere suitable to sit when I go out. If there isn’t, I have to leave much sooner.
Payback after anything more than a small amount of activity (how small is variable, as are recovery times)
Moving around the house, climbing stairs, rising from chair can be hard.
Walking any distance challenging/very draining or simply impossible.
Need for regular bedrest during the day, often after only an hour since getting up the last time.
Cognitive problems cause difficulty with memory, understanding what people are saying to me, being able to respond quickly enough, reading and taking in information, and concentrating on these things makes reading, having a conversation (phone or in person) organising myself and so on, very exhausting. A five minute conversation can put me in bed for an hour or more.
Standing very difficult: to cook, clean teeth, dress, shower, walk, queue, do housework, talk at the front door, stand to chat, and much more are affected.
Muscular weakness makes reading, being on the computer or doing creative things hard because my eyes get tired, painful and blurred quickly; as well as obvious things like walking, carrying even a light bag for a short time, housework… repetitive things like chopping things, stirring, rubbing (eg to wash hair) are particularly hard as muscles can seem ok initially then lose power fast.

Things they say to me:

(The medical professionals)

I have met lots of people like you, I can fill out these medical questions for you…

 I feel you have helped me more than I have helped you

You don’t look ill

You just want to be cared for – you can’t face adult life and responsibility

Do you do pacing? So how do you know your limits if you never reach them?

You will never get well if you are depressed

What are your hopes and goals for 2008?

Your illness is certainly mostly psychological

If you look hard enough into yourself you will find the reason you continue to feel ill

It could be the position of your bed… in relation to ley lines

Everyone has baggage and issues – what we need to work out is why people with ME don’t deal with them in the normal way and become ill

You are depressed. You don’t feel depressed but it is manifesting itself physically

Just try turning the tap on a little bit at a time rather than having one big cry

Who do you blame for your parents’ divorce?

 

(Other people):

 

We all get tired

Your life sounds like everyone’s ideal life

There are much worse jobs than this, you don’t know how good you had it here

You should go to Pakistan and see a witch doctor, my uncle couldn’t walk at all, NHS couldn’t help him: now he is fine!

You’re too ill to work? (chuckles) what’s that like?

Do you believe in God? You should…

I was off work once when I hurt my back, but after a few weeks I had to go back: I had no choice

(This is one of my “Blogging for ME Awareness Day” posts – see the rest of my posts for this event here, and what others are writing/doing here!)

I was reading this great blog (as part of Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) click link to read more!) and saw an excellent paragraph in it, which was actually taken from here:

Please understand the difference between “happy” and “healthy”. When you’ve got the flu you probably feel miserable with it, but I’ve been sick for years. I can’t be miserable all the time, in fact I work hard at not being miserable. So if you’re talking to me and I sound happy, it means I’m happy. That’s all. I may be tired. I may be in pain. I may be sicker than ever. Please, don’t say, “Oh, you’re sounding better!”. I am not sounding better, I am sounding happy. If you want to comment on that, you’re welcome.

This really made me smile and pins down something i have been bothered about in the back of my mind for some time: Why does it annoy me so much when people say “You are looking well”, or “You sound good” or whatever. I always feel a bit guilty about feeling so prickled by it, when they simply want me to be feeling well and to be improving with all their hearts and are just expressing it… but it feels like it is just a conversation to make them feel better about it; to let them off the hook; to avoid facing the truths about my illness. When i try to explain that they have simply caught me at a good moment and that in general nothing has changed, i get this look, as if to say “Why are you denying improvement? Don’t you want to get well? Be grateful for what good times you have!”

(I must say i am more tolerant of this when it comes from people very close to me who do know largely what my life is like or who see/speak to me regularly, as maybe i do sound a bit better than the last time, but i am safe in the knowledge that they know this does not mean anything more than that, that right now i can speak, but afterwards i will be exhausted and i may not be able to…)

I may look well because i have spent all the day up to this point (and probably yesterday too) making an effort to be clean, have had my hair washed, to have sloughed all the unsightly dry flaky skin off my face and moisturised, to have got out my nice clothes, rested effectively and eaten sensibly and taken a sleeping tablet, a painkiller and all the other things that i need in order to ensure i can function for this occasion of seeing you. I may even feel quite good after all this planning and preparation and be enjoying myself in this rare foray into your world, but like Cinderella, the mirage will soon fade, and i will feel so ill and have so many extra symptoms over the next few days in “payback” that i really cannot just forget this and enjoy “looking so well”. It is not your fault, of course, but how i look at the moment is irrelevant to the bigger picture. “Looking well” can sometimes feel like a curse and a barrier to understanding.

The other common exclamation is “Isn’t it lovely weather, that must really help you!” It helps me in the same way it helps anyone else, and yes, it is nice now that spring has come that i can sit in the back yard and get some fresh air and sunshine (occasionally) and have a change of the usual four walls to some al fresco four walls with birdsong and the like, but it is said to me as if it will actually make me well… My illness is not caused by depression, i actually don’t think it is perpetuated by depression (it just makes it harder to live with). To suggest that all i need is some sunshine for my severe and chronic health condition to improve is really irritating, and again i feel so guilty for being grumpy about it and usually just say, “oh yes it is nice to have nice weather” (and think “but i feel as ill as ever)”.

So now you are reading this and thinking “well i didn’t mean anything by it, what the hell am i supposed to say then? Nothing?” No of course not, but please, just ASK how i am. If you must, you can ask if the sunshine helps me(but don’t expect a sunny answer to that one – my patience is wearing thinner and thinner on this issue).

When you do ask me how i am, of course, that opens up a whole new set of issues: Do you really what to know how i am? Do you want details? Do you want to understand what my life is actually like? Or do you want a “Fine thanks” or a “Not bad today” with no details? It is hard for me to know. Even if i know you really do care and want to engage with it, how can i explain how i am? How can i quantify my wellness or illness in a way you can understand? Sometimes i can say i am “better” but do you know what that means? Do you think i am on the way to getting properly better? Or do you know i mean a-tiny-bit-that-only-a-chronically-ill-person-would-notice-as-an-improvement-and-it-could-all-change-in-the-next-five-minutes-better?

I find when asked “how are you?” these days, i just say “i am ok right now thanks” or something along those lines, because, of course i have been better, and i have inevitably been a lot worse (well i am having a conversation, so evidently not SO bad) so everything else is just in between these two… how i am changes minute by minute, hour by hour and day by day but also not a lot really changes.

So i appreciate you asking, and that you do care, but know that these questions are so loaded for me, and there is a lot more going on behind my reply…

Getting excited about next week now! I have been working hard preparing my blog for ME Awareness Day (/week/month) on 12th May and am really looking forward to reading what others will be writing. I may have to post a little early (spread the fun out, i say). I have been reading all the posts on the ME Awareness Blog about all the things people all over the world are getting involved in to mark the occasion and feeling the sense of collective action… I also contacted my local ME group who are organising tea parties to say i want to attend/help out at one (as i don’t think i can host one myself) and they said they will let me know if something suitable comes up – so maybe i will meet some new folk too!

My diet for my IBS is going well. Things have continued to be calm and free of drama, except for a blip last Friday, so a couple of days ago i ate some cheese, and today i introduced some wheat flour (pancakes!). So far so good, but don’t want to speak too soon. I know i cannot tolerate large quantities of bread, and pastry and things like pizza base often really upset me, also, oats seemed to cause 4 days of upset the other week… but i think if the pancakes don’t have a noticable reaction when i have been gluten free for some time, then maybe it’s not something i need to worry about too much and i can just carry on eating wheat/gluten in small amounts. I think the main reason things are so much better is the reduction of fibre, and not eating raw fruit & salads (which is also to the same end) but while i am on i thought i would try to find out if i was overly sensitive to likely culprits, I am hoping not!

I have also purchased some Kefir, which someone recommended to me. It is like growing your own yogurt culture, except it is meant to be even better for you than live yogurt or probiotic tablets… so will let you all know how that goes as well! Dr Sarah Myhill talks about it on her website.

I have not been feeling too great in general, i had three things i could have gone out to in the last week and could not go to any of them (not that i usually go to three things in a row!). I am finding the smallest things are really draining me, like when the cleaners came on wednesday and one was really stressed (someone had backed into her car that morning) and just five or ten minutes of listening to her tell me about it tipped me from feeling quite good, to feeling awful the rest of the day, despite going back to bed…

I have managed to raise my dose of Midodrine up to 5x 2.5mg day, where i was on 2x 2.5mg. It has not been too bad, and i am really pleased to have managed it this time, but i wonder if that is dragging me down a bit as my body adjusts… as always, who knows… maybe it’s all the blogs i have been working on – actually that makes sense 😉 let’s hope people read it!

I did manage to go to a local wood on May 3rd –  the bank holiday weekend –  and it was absolutely magic – bluebells, sunshine, birds singing – and it really was just what i needed – would like to go back as soon as i can as it was just lovely!

Here is a picture i took:
photo622

 

 

 

Ahhh – see how relaxing it looks! I wish i could live in there! A real “may day” spring feeling was had by all 🙂

ME/CFS Awareness

ME/CFS Awareness

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