Wednesday, 3 February 2016

My M.E Story

I thought my life before M.E/CFS was a productive and fulfilled life. Looking back I see that I was burning the candle at both ends, and it proved detrimental to my health. I loved exercising and would wake half an hour early and go to bed 20 minutes later to do toning exercises. I would spend half an hour jogging on the days I didn't have to go to meetings after work. I would park the car further than I needed to be to walk the rest of the distance, and go for walks in the evenings around the beautiful hilly countryside with my mum. Weekend's were for church socials and parties and I loved to dance, my cousins, sister and I would be the first on the dance floor and the last to leave.

I worked 9-5 in a job I loved. I was a support worker for the mentally ill and I found satisfaction in being able to assist those who struggled doing the shopping, cleaning,  getting to appointments, going out for fun, and being there as a shoulder to cry on.
I was very active in my church and had responsibilities that would see me at midweek and Sunday meetings, making phone calls, typing minutes and other administrative work throughout the week.
Every night I would be out at church meetings or socially and not retiring to my bed till nearly midnight.

I loved my life, but around January 2007 my body started to give me warning signals. I became very tired and had to come home from work on one occasion for no other reason than I just needed to sleep and rest, which was very unusual for me. One Monday night in early February of that same year I wrote in my journal "I feel I'm getting ill, I hope not, I'm too busy to be ill."

As I drove to work I managed to get to the outskirts of Chorley before I realised that it would be dangerous for me to go any further. My head felt heavy and it was a chore to hold it up, I was unable to concentrate and my reactions were scarily slow. My body ached everywhere as if I had the flu and all my limbs were heavy proving a struggle each time I needed to use them. After five days of resting and still not feeling any better I went to the doctors. I was petrified of what they might say as I had never felt so ill before. They took blood tests and explained it was a virus that was going round at the time. The blood tests came back and I was low in iron. I was relieved. I had been anaemic before and iron tablets had restored my energy. Believing anaemia was all I had I attempted to resume normal living and decided to go for a walk as it was a lovely day. As I stepped outside, the brightness hurt and my head started to ache. As I walked my body got heavier and it felt like I was wading in water. Three houses down there were kids playing in the garden, screaming and laughing. I couldn't stand the noise, I turned and went back to the house. Later that day I felt in such pain and walking had become even harder. I just had to lie down. It was even difficult to concentrate on watching the tv or talking to people. This was what life became for me. I also struggled to sleep. I would be awake for hours at night, desperately needing rest, but unable to get it. Numerous blood tests came back clear, so I went to the hospital to have more tests done, only for them to come back clear too. A friend mentioned M.E to me, and so I researched the condition and became fearful. The symptoms described what I was feeling,yet people were saying they had it for years. No, I did not want it be M.E. More doctors appointments, more tests, and they all came back clear. Luckily I had a family and a doctor who believed me and were supportive, or I would have felt crazy, guilty and would have pushed myself even further. After 6 months my doctor could finally diagnose me as my symptoms had not improved. She diagnosed me with M.E/CFS, and by that point I was so grateful to have a diagnosis that I no longer cared. It was a weight off my shoulders that I had a name for what I was feeling, and had come to accept the fact that I was in this for the long haul.