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Headaches and finding a new GP

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Friday morning.

The frustration of this condition knows no bounds, and I guess I just need to write about it today.

Last Sunday I got out with my husband during the day.
Our car is fixed now and it was so good to get out. I think it was the first time I have been out during the day (ie, in daylight) for maybe 8 weeks.  I suspected I’d be paying for it a bit the next day – especially after climbing all the stairs to get back into our top-floor flat once home.
But that would have been ok. Well not ok exactly, but I would have accepted it without feeling too stressed about it.

I’m writing this on Friday morning and have been pretty much bed bound for the last 4 days. Not so much with exhaustion and weakness (although that too). But with crippling headaches (again).
So frustrating after managing a few hours out on Sunday. That horrible reality of 1 step forward then 3 steps back.

It all got triggered by an argument on Monday evening with husband.
Won’t go into details, but it was an issue that’s been argued over many times.  For me, very upsetting. And it always feels unresolved.
Hey ho . . . but that’s married life isn’t it ?
But it made me think about how emotional exertion (from a bad event) can sometimes have an even worse  impact on this condition than doing too much physically. At times.
If that makes sense ?
Well it made  sense to me.
Being in bed for 4 days completely disabled by headaches and exhaustion is bad.

Oh god, these headaches are vicious.

Been using the usual stuff like Panadol Extra together with Ibuprofen – didn’t work. Eventually gave in and resorted to taking Solpadeine Max the last two days – which I really don’t like taking because of the addictive affect of the codeine in it. And you are only allowed to use it for a maximum of 3 days anyway. Also tried using cool gel migraine patches on my forehead.  Some things would take ages to work, or not do anything at all.

Lying in bed with so much pain was driving me mad, but I didn’t have the strength to get up and move around. Or do anything to distract myself from the pain.
All I could do most of the time was try to “go with the pain” and breathe. As slowly and deeply as I could. Over and over.
Most of the time this didn’t work.  And I have to confess I wasn’t thinking calm or relaxed thoughts . . .

I was dwelling on stuff like :

This is the UK with a proper health-service. Not some backwater country with no health service.

It’s ridiculous that I can’t get any help with some decent pain medication.
Its really not much to ask for.

I’ve been mentioning these headaches to GP for years and years.

And at least twice to docs at the Homeopathic Hospital.

But nobody listens to a word I say.

And the last GP who phoned me from the surgery I have been with for 28 years was awful and actually made things even worse.
(See last post. The 5th section – it was quite a long post.)

And it is so bloody hard to change docs. To physically do it I mean. With this condition.

This is a situation I’m really struggling with.  And have done for years.

So far, I have managed to get a registration form from another surgery. But my husband had to go in to collect for me. As they don’t post or email them out  regardless of your situation. The receptionist I spoke to didn’t seem to understand much about the limitations of ME/Cfs. And it will be impossible for me to actually speak to the GP until I am registered as a patient.
(I don’t mean I wanted to speak to him as in a proper appointment, I wouldn’t expect that. But just to speak for a few minutes to kind of see what his manner towards people with ME is like.)

The process, as I understand it, is :

1) You have an appointment/examination with the nurse and fill in the form (I’ll need to complete it in advance).
2) Then (IF they agree to accept you as a new patient) your medical records get transferred.
I was informed this can take 2 months. I have no idea why that long.
NB.  You might not be accepted if it is felt you have “too much” wrong with you. (I heard this unofficially, not from the GP receptionist I have to say.)
3) Once this has all happened you can actually speak to the GP – if he hasn’t retired by that time . . .
and then the crucial one
4) You you have to hope (and pray) that he has some knowledge of ME. And even more importantly – a decent attitude towards it.

So its a kind of catch 22.
You have to go thru this process first, before you find out if it was worth all the effort of doing it (ie, to get a decent GP).
You may be rejected anyway.
You may complete the process then find out the GP and the surgery are even worse than the old one.

The chances of getting a GP who is more “ME/CFS friendly” and informed is maybe 50 – 50. Even that may be optimistic.

After just one phone conversation with the receptionist, I was exhausted. Mentally and physically.
And frustrated that she couldn’t understand why this is a difficult process for folk with ME/Cfs.  And may be pointless for me, and a waste of their time also.
I tried and tried to explain why it was difficult. But the longer I tried the more exhausted I got. And of course, the brain fog always gets worse in these situations. And I probably just started to sound drunk and confused.

I really need to be a lot more well than I am just now, to be able to do this.

When I was more well in the past – that of course is when I should have put all my energy into doing it.
But I didn’t.

But I will really need to persevere with this now.
I have doubts about the surgery for a few reasons – parking issues, suspect it may be quite a noisy surgery, etc. When my husband collected the registration form he said it looked as though it was “full of Romanians and asylum seekers” . . .
All I could think of was – as long as they’re not noisy I don’t care.
But the GP has been mentioned to me.
And I simply don’t have the energy to phone around various places. It would just be the same process everywhere from what I understand.
(Did try one other surgery but it was outwith my post code.)

At one point this week, I was actually trawling the internet for websites that sell you painkillers that normally require a prescription. But without a prescription. They seemed to be mainly American sites. But I couldn’t go any further with that – mainly because I just couldn’t tolerate looking at the tablet’s screen for long enough. And couldn’t concentrate enough to be able to read or digest the information.
However that was maybe a good thing. As this would seem a rather dodgy thing to do – maybe even dangerous.
But the pain was bad.

Today however, it is much less.

And I’m writing again – even if it is a bit negative.
I will try and do some lighthearted posts, I promise.

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The Real Face of CFS . . .

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OK, here are 4 photos.
I think I am being quite brave putting these on. Especially as photo 3 is awful !

Photo 1 : A Good Day

Photo 2 : An OK Day

Photo 3 : A Bad Day. In bed, exhausted, in lots of pain (head, eyes, neck, shoulders). Unable to function.

Photo 4 : The same Bad Day, but the pain starting to ease off. Maybe 5 hours later.

When people see me – I am maybe like photos 1 or 2.
But for most of the time, people don’t see me. And this is very typical of people with CFS or ME.
This year, I have probably looked like photo 3 for a huge amount of the time – maybe 75% of the time.
In bed, exhausted, in pain, not functioning in any way.
Just ill.
It has been one of the worst years I can remember in all my years with CFS.

But I think I’m starting to improve slightly now. Very very slowly – baby steps.
I’m almost scared to say this – incase its tempting fate. If that makes sense ?

I wanted to publish these photos – as Photo 3 is the “real face of CFS”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOK DayBad Day Recovering

My CFS Symptoms

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I decided to list my symptoms with CFS.   Not for fun (!) but for various reasons :

I’m sure there people out there who still assume Chronic Fatigue Syndrome just means that we get a bit tired. And get tired more often than average.
And therefore they regard it as not very serious.
But (unfortunately) there is much more to it – as you can see from this list.

It is rather a long list – and I realise that I have some symptoms now that I didn’t have eg. 6 years ago. I feel that the longer you have CFS and/or the longer you had to go before getting diagnosed – the more it may become “entrenched” or “ingrained” in you.
And all the harder to get rid of.
NB. This is just my personal opinion and not based on any medical facts.

But I also know I am very lucky in that my symptoms do fluctuate and I am not hit anything as badly as some who are classed as having severe CFS or very severe CFS. Or severe ME & very severe ME.
Plus in making this list I noticed that some symptoms I had quite badly years ago – I rarely get now, eg. IBS.  (= good)
But on the other side of the coin I have developed other new symptoms in recent years, eg. 21 – 23.  (= bad)

Anyway – here they are :

1) Flu-like exhaustion (no strength or power left)
2) Muscle weakness
3) Muscle pain (esp neck, shoulders, upper & middle back)
4) Stiff neck
5) Sore/stiff right arm and wrist
6) Headaches (more often & severe last year or so)
7) Weakness & lack of grip in right hand
8) Out of breath easy
9) Chest tightness or heaviness
10) Heart pounding/racing
(Pulse Rate always high : eg. lowest usually 80 – if feel well and am very rested. Can be much higher – eg. 141 the other day after having a shower.)
11) Blurred vision
12) Always thirsty
13) Memory bad
14) Often forget point I’m talking about mid-sentence
15) Find it hard to be concise – often go off on tangents
16) Cannot find the right words at times
17) Poor concentration – cannot focus on 1 thing at a time
18) Racing thoughts – all jumbled up/so many things that need doing/
19) Brain Fog – thoughts very slow, as if they cannot get thru,
20) Eyes get tired very easy
21) Cannot tolerate bright light some days (eg. from TV or PC screen)
22) Cannot tolerate noise some days or sudden change in noise levels (eg. different sound levels on diff TV channels)
23) Cannot tolerate moving images some days (eg. on TV)
24) Prone to getting cold easily (especially if overdue food)
25) IBS
26) Excessive sleeping some days

A Small World

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Right now I feel as though my world consists of 2 rooms upstairs in my home – ie. my bedroom and my office (which is in the next bedroom). And my day to day life is just : work – exhausted/CFS worse – then sleep.
Then more of the same.
But at least I do have the luxury of working from home and for myself. Which is just as well as some days I work very badly or slowly. And some days I don’t manage at all. But thats nothing unusual with CFS – it just wouldn’t be much good to an employer !
The biggest problem I have right now is when I try to have a decent break to allow my CFS to get a bit better – all the work problems escalate. (I always have a backlog as its hard to get on top of things.)  After a few days off I will feel rested and stronger – but then have to face problems that have resulted from me missing things that maybe had to be done by a certain time. And with it being property – almost everything has a financial penalty or cost of some sort. This then causes more work and problems . . .  and a lot of stress.
An awful lot of stress !
So I seem to be in a vicious circle which is hard to get out of.
But I have to keep going – no other option. I did choose to get into property because I have CFS. (Realise that will sound odd and will explain more in another post).
I never expected it to be easy or a short-term thing. But right now it is quite a struggle.
Its difficult to get any balance in my life – like doing nice things eg. actually seeing people, friends, actually getting out of the house. Even just watching TV or reading would be nice !
I seem to be cancelling things more – or just not making any arrangements in the first place, as I know there will be a high risk I will have to cancel if not well on the day.                                                                                                                       So its not easy at the moment – but I will get there.

NB. I’m not looking for sympathy here – I just want people who know me to understand. Because I don’t think very many people do ?

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