Feeling Old and Sick

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Today I’m feeling about as old as Bugs and Daffy look in this picture I colored a while ago. I’m only 35 years old, but it often feels like I am much older physically, thanks to the chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. My husband currently has the flu and when he was telling me how bad his body aches and fatigue were, I couldn’t help but think that I’d never be able to tell the difference from my everyday body aches and fatigue. In fact, with my chronic ear and sinus infections, the only way I ever know for sure if I actually get a virus is if I am running a high fever. Otherwise, I figure it is just my normal daily crud I have to deal with.

Sometimes it is easy to forget what it was like to NOT feel sick all the time or hurt constantly. I can’t even imagine living without it all now. I’ve become so used to the routine that I’ve accepted it in a sense and admitted defeat in my own mind. That is likely not a good thing, considering that I feel I’ve lost all hope to ever feel healthy again. I’m not writing this today to try to illicit sympathy or just to whine, but it is what I’m thinking about and dealing with, so I felt it only honest to share. If you are a fellow sufferer, let me tell you that I am truly sorry you have to go through all this as well.

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Sweet Freedom

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I finally have a car again! Since April of last year, my husband and I have only had one car between us. During the summer it wasn’t so bad because he doesn’t work, but when he returned to his position as a special education teacher this year, I started really getting feelings of being trapped at home and desperately wanting to get out, even if it was simply to run an errand or two or people watch (one of my favorite past-times).

We started looking for a car a few weeks ago, using some money I had earned from writing and some savings we had socked away. We only had around $2,000-$3,000 dollars, so we were definitely working on a budget. We finally found a good, reliable used car last week and bought it, but we weren’t able to drive it until yesterday since we had to wait to get the plates and make sure our insurance was covering it now.

So now I have a car again!  I don’t plan to go out and do a lot (my health prevents that) but I can run down to the local post office, library, dollar stores, and McDonald’s myself now! Of course, we live out in the country, so there isn’t a ton of stuff to do within a few miles, but hey, something to do is better than nothing! Due to my health problems, I try not to drive more than 10-15 minutes away from home (I never know when the fatigue may worsen, IBS may flare up, or vertigo may strike), but at least I am feeling a bit more free and able to do things for myself!

Could Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Be Caused by Toxic Mold?

Hello everyone! So today I’m sharing a book review vlog video I made yesterday. For anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, or similar chronic illness, or who has a special interest in those subjects, this book might be something you would want to check out! If you have already read the book, let me know your thoughts!

Bad Night

Tonight was a bad night. The pain, isolation, and despair came crashing down so hard and fast that I crawled off the couch and collapsed onto the carpet, on my side, in a loose fetal position and just wept. I gripped the beige carpet fibers in my fingers and pulled as the tears pooled below my cheek. I pinched myself. I aimlessly pummeled the floor. The anger exploded in that way it always does, boomeranging right back into myself. I considered my options. All the ways it could end. The option of reaching out for help. The feeling that grasping for that help would only inconvenience others. After all, my husband has to work tomorrow, he needs his sleep. I can’t take the car, who would bring it back to him?

Eventually, I made my way outside. Hoping the cold would numb it all. I walked on the icy, wet grass and then took a seat on the deck stairs. Soon my feet were frozen numb, and my body curled inward, instinctively seeking to conserve its heat, even as I wished that I could bear it long enough to freeze. Dark thoughts of black toes breaking off soon made hypothermia a less attractive ending. If only it were like a Jack London novel, a slow nodding off into warm, cozy whiteness.

Eventually, I found myself back where I started, on the couch, hoping to find comfort on electronic waves, here in the place where lost things seem to gather in today’s society. I soon stumbled across someone else crying and hugging a giant stuffed giraffe and it soothed the edges just a little. Now, I can only hope tomorrow is brighter.

When you are sick, but no one understands…living with CFS

"Painful Descent", an expressionistic picture representing the downward spiral into chronic pain that many of us suffer.

“Painful Descent”, an expressionistic picture representing the downward spiral into chronic pain that many of us suffer.

Today’s subject is inspired both by my personal experiences with health issues and the experiences of others I know or have known that suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). Although I myself have not been formally diagnosed with CFS, my doctor has ruled out many other autoimmune conditions and it is looking more and more likely that CFS may be the culprit. Of course, this post is one that many others who have an “invisible illness” will be able to identify with. Please remember that just because someone doesn’t look ill on the surface, doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering or fighting a tough battle.

So, what do you think of when you hear the words Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Do you call it the “Yuppie Flu” like so many others have in the past? Do you think these people are lazy, faking it for attention or all hypochondriacs? I hope not, but if you do, maybe some facts might change your mind. For instance, did you know that fatigue is actually just one of many symptoms of CFS? In fact, you have to have multiple symptoms to even qualify for a CFS diagnosis. Here is a list of some of the symptoms of CFS that afflict most sufferers to one extent or another:

  • Incapacitating fatigue for no apparent reason
  • Extreme fatigue after exercise or exertion
  • Sleep problems
  • Pain in joints
  • Muscle aches and muscle weakness
  • Chronic infections that are hard to cure
  • Sore throat and ear pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Constantly swollen lymph nodes
  • Nausea and IBS symptoms
  • Constant flu-like symptoms
  • Mental fogginess
  • Chest pain
  • Numbness
  • New or worsening allergies
  • Sensitivity to noise, light, odors, foods, chemicals, medications, heat and cold
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hypotension, possibly fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Depression and anxiety

And those are just SOME of the symptoms! I personally have experienced all of the above symptoms, some worse than others, but I am still one of the lucky ones with CFS. I can still get out of bed without fainting and I can still walk and do some normal activities on good days. Some people with CFS can’t climb a flight of stairs to the second floor of their home and some sufferers almost never leave their bed or home (especially those who have severe hypotension and fainting).

Also, for those who think this illness is all in the head, did you know that there have been reported outbreaks of CFS in communities where hundreds of people came down with it all at once and suffered severely from it for at least 5 to 10 years? This research leads scientists to believe that at least some cases of CFS are actually caused by a virus that really messes up the immune system for some reason. Although some CFS sufferers do eventually feel better, only a small percentage will fully improve and never have symptoms again. There is also no tried and true treatment so far. Treatment options currently used include antidepressants, stimulants, exercise, nutrition plans and various other alternative approaches. Although some of these treatments do help some people, there are still many CFS sufferers who have found nothing that helps them. Perhaps that is why the suicide rate for those with CFS is high compared with many other physical ailments.

So, after reading all that, has your view of CFS and those who suffer from it changed at all?