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What the world doesn’t see . . .

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This photo struck me as being a good visual descriptor of so many people’s lives when they have ME/CFS.

It certainly is for mine.

So much of our lives are not seen by the rest of the world.  Maybe not by anyone at all, unless we live with a partner or family. So much is hidden and out of sight from friends, relatives, acquaintances.  Not intentionally,  but just the way it is.
The times we do manage to get out and see a friend, or go out somewhere with our partner, can be few and far between.
These are occasions where we have managed to reach the “tips of our icebergs”.

What the world doesn’t see is the struggle the rest of the time. Our lives behind the scenes. Or the bulk of our iceberg that is usually beneath water.

Some examples from my day to day life :

Being so exhausted after a shower or bath that I was unable to go out.
Or do anything.

Having to eat my dinner in bed. Sometimes in a lying down position if unable to sit up. (Not ideal for digestion I wouldn’t think. )

Usually needing a seat with a high back to support my shoulders, neck and back of my head.
Without this I often wouldn’t manage to remain sitting upright for very long. As neck pain would set in. It often feels like my head is too heavy for my neck to support.
Maybe I have a very big brain . . .

Having to buy clothes that will not need ironing.

Actually buying clothes is only done rarely because of the massive difficulty with it.
(This would need another blog post to explain to non-sufferers.)

Same with going to the hairdressers.
I managed recently to get my hair cut and coloured.
This was the first time in over 3 years.

Washing clothes/laundry – but the stuff lying in the washing machine for 3 days until I have enough strength and energy to take it out.

The struggle just to fill in a simple form, and the mental exhaustion afterwards.
eg.
Filling in a Dvla form for a new driving licence recently took me ages. I had mislaid my licence ages ago. But have now moved house also. From the guidance notes I couldn’t decide if a fee was required or not.
Should have been simple but this took over 2 hours to do.
Because of brain fog and headaches.
(and No – I couldn’t phone to ask. See next point.)

Phone calls are almost impossible most of the time.
Unless there is no queue, no more than 2 options to select from, and just very quiet soft music while holding on.
Even on “good energy” days, the brain fog and headaches make this simple task incredibly difficult.

The internet and using my laptop or tablet are torture a lot of the time. (And my mobile.)
Because of hyper-sensitivity to them. Headaches get triggered almost immediately. Brain fog gets worse. And some days it feels like my whole nervous system goes into overdrive.

Doing a simple Asda shopping online yesterday was agony.
Should have been simple. I had made the list the night before. But it took ages.
And triggered off so many symptoms that I was in bed the rest of the day recovering.

Keeping in touch with people is hard when I often can’t manage to type an email, make a phone call, or write a letter or card.
Or I manage to do it – but pay for it with nasty after-effects (exhaustion, headaches, even worse brain fog, etc).
Even text messages can be hard to do as I can’t tolerate using my mobile at times.

Reading a book.
Another simple task most people take for granted.
But I’m very limited in being able to do this. For lots of reasons.
Brain fog – this causes so many problems. Have to keep re-reading stuff as memory is awful. Or I just can’t take in what I’m reading.
Lack of strength in arms – makes actually holding a book too hard some days.
Headaches – often as soon as I try to concentrate.
Hyper-sensitivity to reading a Kindle download on my tablet.
A neighbour loaned me a book when I first moved here.
It took me 11 months to read it . . .

This list could go on and on and on.
But that would be very boring. And you get the picture.

But I guess the 2 hardest things about day to day life for me are :

1) Having to choose between small things because you can’t do both.
eg. Put grocery shopping away OR have a shower.
eg. Make a phone call to pay a bill OR send a text message to a friend.

and

2) The length of time it takes to recover from doing things.
To be stuck in bed all day recovering from just doing an online grocery shopping is pretty grim.

But this stuff (struggle) varies from day to day and week to week. It doesn’t move in a straight line. Up or down.
And while this does make it almost impossible to monitor and control – it still gives me hope that things will improve in time.

I mean, if something varies then it can surely improve in time ?
And more of my iceberg will move up above water . . . .

Brain Fog & Racing Thoughts

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A Wasted Friday

I am glad its Saturday.

Yesterday was a rubbish unproductive day!
Now I don’t obsessively measure my days in terms of “productiveness” in the way that I remember employers doing. But it was a write-off.
But unfortunately it hasn’t been written off in my mind yet and I’m still fretting about it.

This is why I’m adding it to my blog at this early hour on a Sat morning. An early hour for me at the weekend but my sleep pattern is “gubbed”.
Nb. I have borrowed this marvellously fitting word from a great blog called :
http://www.velo-gubbed-legs.blogspot.co.uk by Nasim Jafry. I hope you don’t mind Nasim?

Anyway the very poor summary of my work yesterday consisted of :

a) One letter which took me a ridiculous 2 hours to type ! Yes – that was it.
(I changed the content and tone of it so many times.)
b) Plus a lot of thinking and mulling over property & tenant problems – but no actual “doing”. About 3 hours spent (wasted?) here.

All the usual CFS or ME problems were present.
But I seem to be finding that the “neuro-type” symptoms have been getting worse and worse for some time now. Certainly a few years at the least. And even more so over last 12 months – really hindering me.

For the benefit of non CFS/ME sufferers : by neuro-type symptoms I mean :

Brain Fog :
Cannot think clearly, if at all. A bit like your thoughts are trying to get thru mud or treacle. And it is all so very very slow . . . Plus trying to find the right words can be hard too. Or to finish the point you are trying to make. (Or even work out what the point is . . ) Forgetting the point of what I was talking about mid-sentence is common. A total nightmare if in a phone call – but not easy either when a letter or email.

Hyper & Racing Brain :
Dozens of thoughts racing about at 100 miles an hour, conflicting thoughts, decisions, changing mind, more frantic thinking, cannot decide what best to do, or what to do 1st, or in what order, etc. Just unable to think straight or focus or concentrate.

Out of these 2 symptoms this 2nd one for me is probably the more exhausting as my brain feels as if it has run a marathon afterwards. If that makes sense?
Often I still have to later change what I have done or decided – as it can seem obvious (when rested) that I have made a bad decision. Or I have just confused everyone – including myself !

The headaches are so bad too. They come often with quite an intensity. Plus I find more and more that I cannot tolerate even looking at a PC screen for long. Or a TV screen. I seem to be getting more and more sensitive to colour, moving images on TV, sound, etc.
Which isn’t helpful at all.

Anyway by 5pm I just had to give in – and took painkillers and went to lie down in my bedroom next door to my office. With the black-out blind pulled fully down. Had planned to get up after a few hours, but ended up getting into bed and staying there for 10 hours – until 3 am.
I was just too exhausted to get up before then and my brain felt burned-out as I was still thinking about so much stuff while in bed.
But hunger finally got me up and went down to kitchen for something to eat.

Not the way I would choose to spend a Friday night.

Just realised this is another long post. (Have no idea how I manage on Twitter . . .)
And it is rather moany again. I admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. Although now that I’ve typed it I feel much happier.

Note To Myself :
Some Aims : do shorter posts and more fun ones !

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