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A Long Slow Road

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Everything is very very slow.

HEALTH/ME :

Trying hard to get a bit better health-wise.
But it’s like walking such a fine line with ME.
Do just that bit too much and the payback is punishing. You crash, so many symptoms go thru the roof, and it feels like back to square one again. Then you rest to recover, try to build up a bit, feel a bit better, physically stronger, some more energy. And you try to do something big – like just go out!
Then wham and crash – all over again.
This condition is such a nasty piece of work. And I have to manage it on my own.
No medical help at all.
Last weekend I managed to get out twice – late on the Friday and also the Sunday afternoon. This was marvellous and I enjoyed both so much. But then “crash” – and I had to spend most of the last 6 days in bed again. I’m not even going to bother detailing all the different symptoms as I’m so sick of them.
But its not easy.
And painfully slow.

BANKRUPCY STUFF :

This is painfully slow too.
I don’t mean the waiting to be discharged from bankruptcy. This can happen after 1 year – or it may take up to 3 years. And of course is on your record for ever. Well, 6 years I think is technically correct. But as good as forever I feel.

That’s not the problem.

The problem for me is the amount of mail, phone calls etc that I still get from people like mortgage lenders, etc. And the adverse effect it has on me every time.
Last week alone my husband posted off 3 big A4 size envelopes stuffed full of letters, demands, threats, etc to our Trustee In Bankruptcy. We try to send any mail on every week. Last week was admittedly worse than usual – but even then.
It’s not ideal.
And this is maybe 18 months after we first took advice from the bankruptcy adviser.
And later decided to proceed. My health had totally crashed to my lowest ever level of functioning in Feb 2014 so I really felt this was the best, if not the only option.
All this time – and still it all goes on and on.
Nobody seems to even acknowledge that we are Bankrupt. The Trustee say Yes they tell everyone. But still I am being pestered.
Getting to the stage (again) that I don’t even want to switch on my mobile phone. Because of missed calls, voicemail messages, etc. This isn’t good because I still want to be able to use text messages at times, or maybe listen to calming music on the U Tube app in the phone. Even if I can do very little else some days.

I think I have said this before – this process has been torture for me. And has had the effect of worsening my ME overall. I have more symptoms now than when it started.
Plus recurring nightmares over the last 18 months.
My automatic stress response to this stuff is very heightened now. Very over sensitive. The smallest of things sends my nervous system into orbit some days. And this triggers off so many debilitating symptoms (eg, the severe headaches). It’s automatic and just happens without any thought about it. Or choice. And it takes ages (sometimes days or more) for me to “come down” again. And for the symptoms to lessen.

Basically, my whole nervous system feels like it is in shreds.

And the point of the Bankruptcy (the WHOLE point) was to give away all control of everything to a Trustee In Bankruptcy. So they would deal with everything and everybody. Most especially all the properties and all the mortgage lenders.
That was what we were told would happen.
If I was able to continue to do stuff like this – then I wouldn’t have chosen voluntary Bankruptcy in the first place.

If I had a pound for every time I’ve said this over the last 12 months . . . .

I do realise that people may read this and think – yeah, but you must have been in a big mess financially ?

And yes, of course debts had accumulated. I had been hemorrhaging money over a few years leading up to Feb 2014 because my health had been getting even worse. I mentioned this in a previous post somewhere.
BUT – if I had been able to keep going then these would have been cleared in a few years by selling maybe 2 or 3 properties. But I couldn’t keep going – as there was no way of getting a reasonable break from everything.
ALSO – if it was just about financial reasons then we could have sold our home ourselves. Rather than handing it over the the Trustee. They sold it at a cheap price (as expected). And within just a week.
And the profit made (or equity released) was approx £150,000.00. No small sum.
Plus our 3 mortgage Endowments were taken from us and cashed in. (This was a total shock.) Producing over £40,000.00. Again, no small sum.
So we “gave away” almost £200,000.00 in “available assets” to the Trustee.
My business debts (property debts) when my health crashed early 2014 were nowhere near this sum. And at this point everything was being paid ok, nothing was in arrears, no missed payments or anything like that.
I was even still getting 0% balance transfer offers from a few of the credit cards that I was using for business cashflow and expenses.

So the issue wasn’t the amount of debt being carried – but more the fact that I could do no more. Physically (and mentally) I had nothing left.

So everything given up in return for Bankruptcy = a Trustee taking over and dealing with everything = total rest and peace of mind for me = the chance of my health improving.

It has been nothing like this.

I have no idea what’s going on. And it’s very hard to get anything in writing.
From day 1 – I begged for everything in writing. From the bankruptcy adviser and then from the Trustee In Bankruptcy.
(Because of my health and most especially the brain fog.)
But it just doesn’t happen.

But I know the only way thru this – is to go thru it.
And short of medicating myself into a stupor with perhaps very strong anti-depressants – I just have to take it.

GP PROBLEM :

After 10 months of trying – I’m not much further on with getting an ME friendly GP or any help or support.
The health centre I was trying to join – I had to admit defeat. And give up. A GP there had been mentioned as being good. But the staff (a nurse and 3 different medical receptionists) had no knowledge or time for people with ME. They just kept telling me to do things I wasn’t able to do. And were abrupt and totally lacking in any understanding or patient care. Every interaction I had (one appointment and 3 phone conversations) resulted in just making me more ill with the upset and stress of it.
These people are being paid salaries to treat people like this.
So it was 9 months of time and energy wasted for me.
As I’ve said before – you need to be much more well to be able to cope with this sort of stuff.

However, I think I am now successfully registered with a new small GP surgery.
I say I think – because I haven’t had any card from the health board or anything in writing to confirm this yet. The receptionist said I should get a card to confirm after a few weeks. Hasn’t arrived yet. But hubby phoned and the receptionist said it was OK.
This surgery is small with just one GP. But there was no in-person appointment with a nurse or GP required to apply to join. Just a form which was fairly simple. OK, it still took me ages to complete with the brain fog, headaches, etc. But fairly simple by most people’s standards.

The only thing is – I have no idea what the GP’s view and attitude towards people with ME is yet.
I will just have to hope for the best . . .
Anyone reading this who has no experience of ME may think I am over-worrying about this.
Here are just 2 examples from folk on twitter very recently of how it can be :

example 1
A sufferer’s GP told her father that he “didn’t believe in ME” and that it was “a charter for malingerers” .
This resulted in a long standing family break up. As it presumably resulted in the person’s father disbelieving his daughter and giving no support.
Which to be honest is absolutely unforgivable. But the GP did terrible damage here.

example 2
A male sufferer changed to a larger health centre to try to get better treatment, more respect.
There were 8 GPs in this health centre.
Over time (probably a long time) he found out that 7 out of the 8 GPs did not believe in ME. And only 1 did.
At least there was one.
But that’s a rate of 88℅ who would treat you poorly at that centre. And just 12% who would be likely to give you any support at all.

I do hope this isn’t reflective of the nationwide average . . . .

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Ok, thats all for now.
Incredibly exhausting to write all this. Much longer than I planned.
But it is therapeutic.

My Life so far – NOT what I expected

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I save a lot of pics like this if I see them on twitter or somewhere – just because I like them.  Mainly funny, upbeat,  philosophical, inspiring,  motivating etc.
Something a friend said to me in a text message recently reminded me of this picture.
It certainly describes my life.

But I’m not OK with it – yet. That will take a while.

I’m 55 – and now have nothing.

The post from 7 Feb 2015 titled Battered, Bruised and Bankrupt explains.

When I say nothing – I mean nothing financially. And no security.

No money
No income
No savings
No ability to earn any income because of all the ME symptoms severely affecting my life. (Certainly not just now.)
No Benefits – I am not well enough to deal with the process. Nowhere near well enough.
No GP ( or as good as no GP).
I do own 50% of this flat I now live in with my husband – but at the moment this is 50% of nothing (financially). As it has a large mortgage on it and there is no equity in it.
And we now have nothing to pay off the interest-only mortgage with in 8 years time. We did have various mortgage Endowments – but they were taken from us by the Trustee In Bankruptcy and cashed in.

Worked hard since 17

With Commercial Union Assurance (now part of Aviva) for 19 years.
Then Prudential for almost a year.
Then NTL ( now Virgin Media) in telecoms for 4 years

Studied for professional qualifications in Insurance (Life and Pensions) and Financial Services (for Compliance work).
Obtained A.C.I.I ( ie. Associateship Of The Chartered Insurance Institute) in the Life & Pensions branch early 1980s .
Obtained MLIA {Dip) and FPC (Financial Planning Certificate} in early 1990s.
During the early 1980s I also worked in pub jobs for 3 (sometimes 4) nights a week – on top of my full time job. I did this over a period of a few years and think I worked in 5 different pubs.
The reason – to save up for my 1st flat. For the deposit, costs and fees, furniture, etc.
I was keen to do this but not have any debt when I moved in.

All these jobs/careers I had to give up and resign from due to my health. And all the symptoms of what I now know to be ME (or CFS as it was called at my diagnosis).
NB. I left all these jobs with nothing – even after 19 years in Commercial Union.
There was no help or support from my GP at all. And I just wasn’t well enough to be able to push for more help.

Finally got diagnosed with what was called CFS in 2003.
After more than 12 years of going back and forwards to GP – but feeling I was being treated like a time-waster each time. As if I was just being lazy.
Appalling treatment really.

By 2004 I had to accept I just couldn’t risk working for an employer again. Assuming anyone would have me . . .
Although I was feeling a bit better again after some rest time, I still had a lot of symptoms to cope with. I knew I could only work when I was able to. And would often need big rest and recovery periods.
No employer could be expected to cope with this.

So the only option left was to work for myself.

In 2004 I started up the Property stuff seriously.
Buying the 2nd flat to rent out (ironically the one we now live in and are very glad to have !).
By using savings and remortgaging our home I got started.
Then managed to build up to owning 15 flats by 2014.
Mainly by remortgaging them or using additional borrowing to raise funds for the deposit, fees and costs to buy the next flat. When the value of the property had increased enough to allow this.

The point of this was to get to a point where I would have been able to sell off a property every year. Or maybe every 2nd year.
And the profit would give me an annual income.
(It is very hard to make any real monthly income from the rent – there are so many expenses and things to deduct from it.)

Ironically, if I had done nothing at all we would now be much better off financially.

Hindsight again . . . . A totally useless thing.

Remortgaging our home was a calculated risk. But it was the obvious and only option to use. Neither of us have ever had any inheritances or lottery wins !
It had loads of equity in it at 2014.
Partly because of the increase in the property market. But also because we had bought it in 1998 with a very small mortgage. We put down a large deposit of 65% of the purchase price.
This was done partly by saving up very hard for a few years and going without most things. Really scrimping on everything.
And the reason for this – our future security . . . .

Now at July 2015 – Bankrupt.

Husband dragged down with me – as some properties were bought in joint names.
But he has been totally supportive and never blaming me. And I’m so grateful for this.
So, the loss of everything – apart from the flat we are living in.
Oh, and we were allowed to keep our beloved BMW. Because it is so ancient now ! (Think I mentioned this in a previous post.)

As I explained in previous post, the Bankruptcy was voluntary because of my health.
I couldn’t go on.
And this was the only way, as I understood it, to give away all control and responsibility for all the properties. And hand over all dealings with everyone to a Trustee In Bankruptcy. ie. All dealings with banks, letting agents, tenants, insurance companies, etc etc.

It hasn’t worked out quite like that . . . .

But that’s life isn’t it ?
You get told something but the reality turns out to be quite different.

But at some point all this horrible Bankruptcy stuff will come to an end. And I will be able to “relax” and have some peace of mind.
No idea when this will be – impossible to get any clear info in writing.
And I will have the energy (well, more than just now) to hopefully find a decent “ME friendly” GP.
Not really for treatment – not expecting miracles. But just for some symptom control and support.

At the moment I have none of this. Just nothing at all.

But I’m still here.
And there are many people out there with ME or CFS who are much much worse than me.

So I’m grateful that I’m not even worse than I am. And that I do have “mini bursts” of energy. And can do some things. Even if the recovery time after it takes days . . . !

PS.
Apologies for any typing errors. I tried my best to check it before hitting the publish button.
But I really struggle to use my laptop or tablet etc. And am all out of energy now.

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.

Battered, Bruised and Bankrupt

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Voluntary Bankruptcy

This was the biggest and most life changing event which dominated most of last year.
And is still going on now.
I became voluntarily bankrupt w.e.f September 2014.
Or “in Sequestration” to use the correct scottish term,

I had to make this hard decision because my health was so poor. It had been steadily getting worse over the last few years and I was living a “non-life” really. In bed most of the time (maybe 80% or 90% of the time) struggling with all the horrible ME symptoms (an ever lengthening list). And at the same time trying to keep the property stuff afloat – mainly from bed. With my mobile phone for texts, emails, internet banking. And of course – actual phone calls. But phone calls had to be kept to an absolute minimum as I was too ill most of the time to carry out a business type phone call, or remember accurately what had been said . I relied mostly on emails as I could take breaks in a way you can’t in the middle of a phone call. Plus I needed a written record of almost everything – as my brain fog was severe.

But this was in no way ideal. You can’t deal with everyone purely by email or text. Plus a simple email that should take maybe 20 mins would often take me 4 hours to type. And that could often take me a day or two to recover from the exertion of doing even that.

My “PEM” or “PENE” (post exertional malaise / post exertional neuro exhaustion) has been severe and punishing.

Sometimes I would manage out of bed and get to my desk in my dressing gown and slippers. Looking like an unwashed wreck. Often I had to choose between washing/showering and getting any work done.
Almost every small bit of energy I could muster up had to go on work/property stuff. But over the last few years, I had built up a massive backlog of stuff that I would never have gotten on top of.

In the end I had to choose between my health and my ME getting even worse – or giving everything up.
When I write it like this, I can see there really was no choice.
But I went thru a lot of mental agony and anguish before deciding. Even started to have panic attacks at one point.

Doing this stuff had been my life for the last 11 years.
And I had struggled on for a very long time – because you can’t just get rid of 15 flats overnight. And I knew the consequences of “giving up” would be awful.
It wasn’t like resigning from my career in insurance in 1997 because of my health, after almost 20 years with the same employer. And walking away with nothing. And that door just closes behind you.
That was simple compared to this.

This has been terrible, and caused my health to go even further downhill. Which was one of my fears about doing it.
But it had to be done – and it was done to give myself a decent chance to improve again in the future.

When everything is more settled, and I get to a stage where I have some peace of mind.
I feel sure I can start to improve then.

I’ll probably write more about this in later posts.
As it has been traumatic, and I do need to get stuff out.

 

Moved house

For 2 reasons :

1) I wasn’t managing in our home very well any longer.
It was a semi-detached house with stairs (obviously). The stairs were hard. I could manage them some days – but with bad exhaustion after. Other days I couldn’t manage at all. My bedroom had been moved into a downstairs room some time ago – but the bathroom was still upstairs. (Had a downstairs loo, thank goodness.) My office was also upstairs (and I was hardly managing into it). The kitchen was too far away from the bedroom and living room for me. And when I did get into it, I often couldn’t stay in it for more than a few minutes at a time – as there was nowhere to sit down. And various windows throughout the house (incl my bedroom) I was unable to open – which would drive me mad.
It had a garden of course, but I rarely managed to get out in it over the last year or two. Any “good” days were spent trying to work and keep everything afloat. Not every one of course, but most of them.

2) The other reason was that we knew we would later voluntarily hand over our house to the Trustee In Bankruptcy. It would have been “taken” off us anyway. We had lived in it since 1998 and there was plenty of equity in it. So we knew it would be sold off to take the equity.
It has just gone onto Rightmove for sale this week. And it looks so sad and empty.

A house move is a stressful event anytime.
We moved well in advance of the bankruptcy taking effect. I actually moved into the flat before my husband at the end of May 2014. As I was desperate to get away from the house, its stairs, and all the other problems.

But as anyone with ME will know – a house move takes a huge toll on your health. Even when it’s a happy house move.
But in these circumstances . . .
I’m just glad its over – and I pray that we don’t have to do it again.

 

Had to change Banks – twice

How would I describe doing this (with ME) ?
Complete bloody torture . . .
The 1st change was recommended by the financial advisor and done ages before the bankruptcy. Bank manager clearly informed of probable future bankruptcy therefore ensuring everything done properly.
It took me months to get all the direct debits set up again – as I can hardly manage to tolerate using the laptop, or phone, etc with my ME being so bad.

Everything was just getting settled and running fine – then the bank decided that they were freezing and closing down all accounts (nationwide) for any bankrupt people. No notice was given at all. It just happened instantly.
This threw us into chaos.
Husband’s salary had just been paid in a week before this happened and we couldn’t get it back out. Well, we did eventually. But with a lot of hassle.
And trying to get a new current account once you have actually become bankrupt is very difficult. (No surprise really.) Most banks don’t want to know, and I actually thought we weren’t going to be able to open one at all at one point.
It was chaos, and mega stressful with ME.
Because you can’t pay many things without a bank account. And, as already mentioned, I am very limited in even being able to make phone calls. Or use the internet. And physically going out to places to try and pay things in cash was totally beyond me. (Still is most of the time.)
We now have a new account up and running (thank god).
But almost everything (DDs etc) have still to be set up all over again.

Not easy . . .

 

Homeopathic Hospital (or Centre Of Integrative Care)

Had a 5 day in-patient stay in January 2014.
This was a huge disappointment and actually resulted in my condition getting even worse afterwards. Especially when I read the doctor’s report a few weeks later.
There were many good things about the stay – I must add this.
Eg, the company of the other patients, getting good food at a regular time, the garden view from my bed (and got out into it twice), some of the meditation classes, a marvellous massage (called a Bowen Therapy massage), a great adjustable bed, a chair in the shower area to sit down on.
But there also a lot of odd, weird things that I tried to ignore and block out while I was there. This was hard work to do mentally, as a lot of things didn‘t “feel“ right.
But I didn’t speak up while there.
Partly because too exhausted – the whole effort of getting organised and getting there had taken its toll. And my husband was ill too and I was worried about him.
And the brain fog doesn’t make it easy to think clearly or express yourself when needed.
The other thing was – I didn’t want to be labelled as being “over-anxious” or having a “depressive/negative mood”. So I just kept quiet about things I was concerned or confused about.
But when I read the doctor’s (fairly short) report later – I was horrified. Angry, upset and despairing at what a waste of time and energy (mine) it had turned out to be.
Most of my symptoms had been ignored. And I reckoned about 80% of what I had said (or tried to say) had been dismissed or ignored. Or I hadn’t been allowed to talk about some symptoms.
Looking back – the total time the ward doctor spent with me was maybe 45 mins on the 1st day. Out of a 5 day stay. For 25 years of illness . . .
And a list of symptoms that was getting longer and longer. And more severe.
I had been so “grateful” and “positive” and “upbeat” while I was there. And on the last day, And even when I was just home.

But it all knocked the stuffing out of me.

I tried to reason with myself that I maybe had been expecting too much. But I just expected a doctor/doctors who had some knowledge and understanding of ME/CFS. Then I used up even more energy trying to go back over how it had gone so wrong, why had I not been able to make myself understood, did I not speak clearly enough, had I been speaking too fast (trying to get 25 years of history out remember), etc etc etc.

But it was damaging.

 

Have no GP now

Well, that’s not totally correct. But as good as.
The combination of having moved house to a different post code (although I’m actually closer to the surgery now), and the fact I haven’t been able to get into to surgery since 2011, means that I was told in October 2014 that I had to find a new GP.

I’m still reeling from the phone call that day.

A GP that I had never met or even spoken to before phoned me after my husband went into the surgery before going to work that morning. To ask for better (any) painkillers for me. My headaches have been very bad the last few years (mentioned while in the Homeopathic Hospital, but not taken seriously). And I had been awake most of the night actually crying with the pain. One of the worst nights ever, pain-wise.
The GP who phoned was abrupt and aggressive, wouldn’t let me speak, and I’m not sure she even understood what I was trying to say part of the time. She had a foreign accent.

She used phrases like :

“What’s wrong with you – are you housebound or something ?“
(Re why I haven‘t got to the surgery since 2011)

“We only do home visits for elderly people or people who cannot walk”.
(I didn’t want a home visit – just some effective medication.)

“If we come out to visit you and find out you CAN walk – we will be very angry with you.”
(I didn’t want a home visit but I was speechless at this.)

“I am noting your records now that you are not to be given any more prescriptions.”
(She talked to me like I had done something wrong. And was therefore punishing me.)

“There’s no rush – just within the next few days.”
(Telling me I had to change to another GP surgery – despite me trying to explain I hardly managed out, or even to make phone calls most of the time.)

And it went on and on.

I was in tears (of frustration) after it. And my heart rate felt like it was thru the roof for days later.
I have been with that surgery since 1987 and l don’t think I’ve had a home visit (or even asked for one ) in all those years.

 

Asked 2 ME Charities for help in finding a new “ME/CFS friendly GP”

1) Most recently (a few months ago) :
Paid £20 to join one and used a lot of time and energy emailing their advocacy worker. To explain in detail how limited I am and why I was asking for their help with the GP issue.
She was very nice, but explained she had a big backlog of people with ME needing help. And couldn’t really spend any time with me at this point in time.
She did mention one GP but I don’t think the practice is going to be suitable for other reasons. Even if he still works there, which she wasn’t sure of. And I would still have be a lot more well than I am just now to be able to make enquiries, or go there.

2) A few years ago :
The other charity (or maybe its more of a support group) – I used to be a member of years ago. But only managed to go to 2 or 3 meetings.
Anyway, I asked if I could pay the annual membership and rejoin. And explained my main need was for help finding a decent GP.
(This has been a big problem for me for years.)
I had hoped that somebody/anybody could just give me a recommendation for a decent one. I got an email reply just suggesting I come along to their next meeting – although I had tried to explain how limited I was, and rely mainly on email. I emailed back a few times asking could I pay their membership and rejoin anyway – but they just stopped replying.
So I gave up.

 

Car broken down at end of road – 5 weeks ago

I went into bankruptcy for health reasons.
To relinquish all the properties, and all the work and responsibility that went with them. And all the dealings with Letting Agents, Tenants, Banks, Mortgage Lenders, Tradesmen, Factors, Insurance Companies, etc etc etc.

It wasn’t so much for financial reasons – although debts had certainly built up over the last few years with me not being able to deal with things well, or quickly enough. I was making losses and haemorrhaging money.
But before the process started, everything was getting paid ok and nothing was in arrears. But it was a struggle trying to juggle it all.
Our assets well exceeded any debts – on paper anyway.
After the process we are left with almost nothing.
The Trustee is allowing us to keep this one flat to live in – mainly because it has a big mortgage on it and no equity in it.
But any life assurance and mortgage endowments were taken off us and cashed in.

But – the one bonus for us was they allowed us to keep our beloved BMW.
Only because it is so old – it is a Y registration. Which is roughly 15 years old I think. And it is probably worth less than £1000.
I have always loved this car.
It is the most reliable car we have ever had – and it looks good. And is so comfortable and secure to drive (when I’m able to.)
I was forever boring people with how reliable is has been.

5 weeks ago it broke down at the end of the street . . . .

A major suspension issue – involving a lot of labour time to fix (as well as an expensive part). To have it fixed by a BMW dealer or even a smaller garage would be unaffordable. The repair would cost more than the value of the car itself.
However, we are lucky that a friend of husband’s is working on it. Which will be much cheaper. But its a very slow process as he can only do bits at the weekends. In daylight. And the weather hasn’t helped.
But it will get fixed – eventually

 

– – – – – – – – – –

 

This blog post has taken me ages to write. I changed it so much. And didn‘t want it to be so long – but felt the need to get all this out.

And it will be the first that most people in my real life will learn about the Bankruptcy.
I have only managed to tell a very small number of people. Mainly because my health has been so bad and I have hardly managed to see anyone.
(And it’s not really suitable for a text message . . . )

I’ll probably write more about much of this stuff in future posts.
I’m desperate to be writing again.
It is a struggle as I’m still feeling quite unwell much of the time. And just trying to think and concentrate is exhausting. And using my laptop feels like torture some days.

Doing this post will no doubt wipe me out for days. I feel totally wrecked after doing it.
But in this case, it will be worth it.
The more I can pour all this stuff out (onto this Blog) – the more it is out of my head. And creates “headroom” for better stuff.

That‘s the plan anyway . . .

The Secret CFS/ME Files

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The Secret ME/CFS Files
File No : FD/23/4553 from the Medical Research Council (MRC)

This week or weekend I am planning to settle down and read this file. Probably with a cup of tea – although given the contents a large gin & tonic might be better.
To explain – this will be no pleasant read and have no doubt it will make me very angry. But there is no question at all that I am going to read it.
All 158 pages of it.

This is a file from the Medical Research Council (MRC) on CFS/ME. It had been filed away in the UK National Archives in 1997. And wasn’t due to be released until 2071.
The contents seemingly go back as far as 20 years.
NB. The lady who has obviously done a massive amount of work bringing this to the public attention is :

Valerie Eliot Smith ( @SnakeTempleGirl on Twitter )

She is a long-term sufferer of ME/CFS and describes herself in her twitter profile as an “angry bird”.  And how well I understand that anger. It is the Number 1 reason I started this Blog.

Why am I angry ?

1) Because of the poor treatment I have had from GPs since maybe the late 1980s. So far back it is hard to be sure now. Not angry at the fact that I wasn’t cured – but more the way I have been treated all these years. With contempt, bullying, disbelief (obvious but unspoken), no respect, disinterest, irritation, silence, blank looks, etc etc etc.
Left to rot would basically sum it up.
Take anti-depressants and get on with it.

NB. I should add here that 2 of the 3 GPs I have seen over the years I’m sure are nice people & good GPs when it comes to other problems/conditions – ie. not CFS or ME related.  (In fact they have been quite nice with a few other things over the years.)  The contempt and bullying I mention was from the 1st one and goes back a long time now.

2) Secondly because of the way people with CFS or ME are often treated by the general public.
This can include employers, work colleagues, acquaintances, relatives – and unfortunately sometimes even friends and family. We are desperate to talk about it to people important to us – not because we want sympathy or attention. But because we want them to understand how bad this condition/illness can be and how much it limits us at times.  All we want is understanding and hopefully some allowances made for us – so that the friendship can continue even when we are limited.
But sadly, sufferers sometimes experience boredom, impatience, no empathy or understanding at all, intolerance, disbelief and even nastiness.
Plus many marriages have broken down, with partners leaving. I read somewhere it was estimated 50% of marriages break down when one partner has CFS or ME. I wasn’t shocked – only surprised it wasn’t more. The stress and strain can be terrible, intolerable even, on both people. Especially over the long term.
My own marriage almost didn’t survive and came very close to breaking down in January this year. After being together since 1991. Many reasons. But I would say most caused by me having CFS such a long time. Directly and indirectly.
The sheer stress of everything over so many years, without any help (for either of us) almost finished us off. We are still struggling. Maybe not so much with our marriage but with almost everything else in our life !  It has been very hard indeed the last few years. But, after a 9 month spell apart, we are now living together again.

NB.  How does this relate to these medical files you may be wondering ?
Well although there is really no excuse for people treating us poorly –  I am sure the attitude of the medical profession ( ie. the experts) has not helped things one bit.

3) The sheer injustice of it all.
Being made to feel I was lazy or work-shy by the medical profession. And sometimes others. Always indirectly of course. Never stated outright – therefore denying me the opportunity to challenge it and put the record straight.
I worked full-time from 1977 until 1999, then part-time 1999 – 2003. And studied hard to get professional qualifications in Insurance and in Financial Services : A.C.I.I and M.L.I.A (Dip) and FPC (Financial Planning Certificate).
In the early 1980’s I worked in numerous 2nd jobs in pubs 3 or 4 nights a week – on top of my full-time job. This was to save up the deposit to buy my 1st flat (and cover all the costs, furniture, fees, etc). I was in my early 20s at the time and most of my friends were enjoying going out, socialising, etc. But I wanted to do this and just focussed on it. It wasn’t easy and I did it over a period of a few years. Until around 1986.
Then to be treated as lazy, or basically “worthless” by the medical profession – how could I fail to be angry ?
The lack of almost any medical help, or any type of help. No “Care Pathways” or “Management Guidance” offered to me at all. And being told that I wouldn’t get any financial help from the State as I would not qualify with CFS. My GP did not help me at all. In fact I think the only time my previous GP agreed to sign me off work (for 3 or 4 weeks) was when both my Mum and Dad were seriously ill in hospital at the same time. My Dad was in hospital for a month and had a lot of health problems. Then my Mum had a heart attack at the same time – and ended in in the same hospital (Glasgow Royal Infirmary) for 2 weeks.
So I maybe shouldn’t complain too much . . . Allowed time off work for 4 weeks. This was maybe 1987.
In late 2002/03 my GP then did sign me off work, and eventually diagnosed my CFS. My Mum was terminally ill at that time, and I was struggling very much even before that.
But in order to get this (signed off work I mean for a few weeks ) – my husband actually had to come to the Doctors Surgery with me. To help me talk to her.

NB. I want to make 2 important points here :

a) I am not angry because I just wanted to have lots of time off work.  Then give it up forever.  Then live on State Benefits. And that my GP somehow stopped me dong this. But it would have helped me so much if I had been treated seriously and shown some respect by GPs.  Because I am certain that if people are forced into struggling on for a long period of years (as I was) then the illness/condition becomes more ingrained. And so much more difficult to get rid of.

b) With regard to state financial help – I wouldn’t have wanted, asked or chosen to live on benefits.  But I fully understand that many have to do so because they have no choice, and are own their own. But to have received some financial help would have been good. I mean people get child benefit (previously totally un-means tested).  And having children is a choice – having CFS or ME isn’t.

4) Now a Landlady – since 2004.
This is hard too and is eating up most of my life just now. Because my CFS has got worse over the last few years. So makes it harder than it should be.
I “got into Property” in 2004 as was no longer employable. It had to be something where I wasn’t answerable to anyone and could do my own hours.
I took a big risk (financially) to start this up. I didn’t have any money other than some savings. Never had any inheritances, or gifts, or lottery wins.
I just borrowed and kept on borrowing . . . !  Including re-mortgaging the house – with my husband’s agreement of course.
It was designed to be long-term – and will be very long-term now. Keeping it all afloat throughout the last few years (since the credit crunch and recession started in 2008) must be one of the hardest things I have ever done.
Unlike GPs and other medical people I have no guaranteed salary at the end of each month. Sometimes a loss. And I just have to work the hours it takes.

NB.  My point here is not meant to be “Oh woe is me” or “I never knew it would be this hard”  . . . etc etc.  It is simply that I am working very hard – but am still treated dismissively at my GP surgery.   It seems that no matter what you do, or say,  if you have CFS or ME noted on your files – you are deemed not worth bothering with.


But : why do I want to read this file, if it is going to make me even more angry ?

Because I have to.
I have to see the contents in black and white for myself.
I feel it will confirm I have not been over-sensitive all these years. In feeling I have been badly treated by people who are highly paid professionals. Who I had turned to and had relied upon to help me.
And it will prove that I have not been alone.  And have a very justifiable right to be angry.

GPs treatment of CFS is . . .

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One of the main reasons I started up this blog was to get out some pent-up anger and emotions that have been blocked in over all the years. One area has been dealing with GPs and other health professionals.

Note :

I have removed this post now.  For a few reasons :

1) Don’t want to get struck of by my GPs surgery !
Although it would be good to find another more “CFS/ME aware” GP – I don’t have the energy or the time to do this. Not right now anyway.

2) I don’t want to cause any offence to the clinical phsycologist I was referred to for the standard CBT treatment years ago. He was very nice and easy to talk to, and certainly made me feel much better about myself at the time.  To that extent CBT did some good. On the emotional front.
But unfortunately was no practical help at all for CFS. (Which we now know is to be expected – as a phsycology-based treatment will not cure a physical condition/illness.)

3) I certainly don’t want to cause any offence to David Mickel in Elgin – who must be the best GP anybody with CFS or ME could wish to have. Having met him and knowing his sense of humour – I am pretty sure he would not be at all upset at my list of rants.  But as he is doing some GP work again now (as well as the Mickel Therapy) I decided to add this anyway.

4) Now that I have had my mini-rant and got it off my chest – I feel much better for it !

Anti-Depressants

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Why Happy Pills ?

I have been on anti-depressants for over 8 yrs.
My doc was always keen to give me these since I was diagnosed with CFS in 2002/2003 – after struggling on at work for at least 12 years before that.
With CFS or ME come a big list of physical problems which can make day to day life quite difficult.
Add to that almost no NHS medical help (none that works anyway), no financial help, no practical support, no emotional support.
Plus often boredom, impatience, or disinterest from people in general.

No wonder people get depressed !

Or in my case – more stressed-out than depressed.
If I didn’t “take the tablets” I would be in danger of bursting into tears of frustration and anger at stuff on a regular basis.
Almost every aspect of my life has got harder over the years. Especially the last 2 or so years.
Right now I seem to spend most of my life working – then exhausted – then sleeping.
Then more of the same . . .
There is very little time, space or energy for much else.
Not by choice – but because I work for myself and it takes me ages to get thru stuff some days with the CFS.
If I rest – the work problems and backlog gets worse. And everything has a “financial penalty” of some sort – as I deal with property.
If I just push on and on while feeling ill – I then end up “crashing” physically and mentally. And may end up in bed for a day (or even a few days) to recover. And while recovering – the work backlog and problems all get worse.
Its a vicious circle.
And I have “lost” so many days out of my life this way over the years.

Add to this the problems of trying to do normal daily activities like food shopping, cooking/preparing some dinner, laundry, housework, household finances, personal things like having a shower, or ironing clothes to wear.
These things can be major challenges at times when the CFS is bad – and often just can’t get done. Partly because no time left, but more often because no physical energy left over to do them.
Apart from the most important one – ie. Eating !
Mind you, at times I have even had to resort to just eating some biscuits or a slice of cheese for my dinner before collapsing into bed.
Not ideal.
– Then add to that the problems of having no money to spend, being overdrawn (or close), credit card debts rising, etc. And that’s just the household finance.
– The property finance is maybe 10 times as complicated and the credit crunch/recession of the last 5 years makes this all the more difficult. But I am still managing to keep it all afloat – though it feels like it is taking everything I have got at times.

But no choice here really.
As I can’t just “make it all go away”. And in this market and financial climate it isn’t possible just to sell it all off quickly – even if I wanted to.
I always look at the long picture – and keep telling myself it will be worth it in the long run.
And that I will get there.

My GP’s view on CFS and ME was that you will not get any financial help from the state – as you have to be “virtually in a coma” to qualify. So he would not help me at all. And this was years ago – around 2003.
NB. Can you imagine how angry I feel when I watch Benefit Cheats on TV . . . . Not that I would want to rely on benefits but it would have been nice just to have a little bit of financial help at times! Just to ease the strain.
I mean other people get benefits who don’t always need them, eg. Child Benefit. But thats another issue.

This is why I got into property.
My choices were very limited. And I had to do something, and something that would (ideally) produce some money in the long run.
CFS makes me unemployable – as I can only work when I can work. And I do work most days. But I can spend 8 hours at my desk and PC – but some days only get the equivalent of maybe 1 hours work done.

But I recognise I am lucky that it does fluctuate and I do have good spells too – and actually have a life. Maybe just not every day.

This has been a long post – and maybe sounds a bit “moany”. (sorry !)
But my goodness – it feels really good to get all this off my chest.

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