Pick yourself up, brush yourself off…

by Claire

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off…

Thanks Ginger, don’t mind if I do! Firstly, thank you to everyone who called, sent me texts or facebook messages of support, and of course, blog comments in response to the last article. CFS is a lonely condition and it’s good to know I have so many people that care about me. I am recovering quickly; 72 hours after falling into the conveniently placed arms of my boyfriend, most of my symptoms had subsided, bar a little muscular weakness and post-exertional fatigue (exertion being anything other than sleeping) and of course the ever-present sore throat and mild fibro. Almost a week later and I am still not at the same level of activity, but I have resumed my morning/evening stretches and have started the wii fit again (3 minutes of boxing in the morning). I can drive short distances if I rest immediately after, and I think I’ll be up to walking in a few days.

This setback was heartbreaking, but I am determined to learn from this.

What went wrong? Put simply, I was doing too much. Far too much. Sometimes it would be that I was too happy to slow down (Father’s Day – a whole day eating, drinking and making merry), sometimes I would ‘manage’ my activities irresponsibly (1 hour ballroom dancing lesson, 10 minutes dancing, 10 minutes sitting), sometimes I would try to pack too much into the same day. Always I would be prepared for the push/crash response – a few days in bed as a consequence of doing too much, and then getting up and doing it all again. What I didn’t realise was that even though I was resting after a ‘push’ cycle, it was still creating a load on my energy reserves; wearing them down (even when compensating afterwards) is just not sustainable.

How can I do it differently next time? I must try harder to do less. Rather, not do less, but work on the push/crash cycle so that instead of doing a lot and then spending days in recovery, I create a sustainable level of activity that I do every day, no recovery required. Realistically this is difficult because it does not allow for dinners with friends, grand final days, shopping trips or cleaning. Activity replacement can help but is difficult to get right. My new mantra is “I can’t do it unless I can do it every day”.

What else can I be doing? Going back to The Plan, I am doing quite well but this has made me realise that what I was doing was not enough. Time to step it up! 1 Rest:  I am meditating regularly (about 30 minutes a day) but I can add more. I have realised that I don’t sleep as well as I thought. I will try sleeping tablets for a week to encourage good habits. 2 Research: I am researching and reading to my capacity. 3 Graded rest: This is where I was pushing myself too much – I will scale back the unmeasured exercise (cooking, cleaning, socialising) and make sure that I rest after any periods of activity. 4 Healthy Body: I have done well with quitting sugar and feel much better for it. I have given up alcohol, am about to start medication for Candida and am going on a very restrictive diet to reduce allergens – no gluten, dairy or yeast and continuing with no preservatives, nuts or sugar. 5 Mental/Social wellness: I will be unable to go out for a few weeks based on the “I can’t do it unless I can do it every day” principle, but I hope that I will be able to get a few friends who work in the city to visit me on their lunch-breaks. Half an hour or 45 minutes is really the longest I could talk for and this means that I won’t have to walk anywhere and can go to bed straight after. 6 Routine: No more deviating from my routine except for doctors appointments. 7 Support: Based on the “I can’t do it unless I can do it every day” principle I won’t be able to clean for the next month, or cook for the next two weeks. Guy is wonderfully supportive, but caring for someone who can’t do anything is a big burden. He is able to do the laundry and housecleaning, but I am going to be proactive and ask people to help us with frozen meals.

I always knew this would be difficult, but I know I have it in me. After falling over, all that’s left to do is ‘Pick myself up, brush myself off, start all over again’…

fred and ginger