Saturday, 28 December 2013

Post Christmas Exertional Malaise

Owww. Ouch! Bleepy bleep bleep bleep. Yes that is how good I felt yeterday. And all because I dared to celebrate Christmas. How dare I try and be normal. Christmas Day wasn't too bad I spent the majority of Christmas day in bed resting and then came downstairs for a couple of hours in the evening. It was strange though excluding myself from dinner (even though I cannot tolerate it) but it's difficult to not listen to that voice that says that you should be joining in the festivities and that you are being completely unsociable. But it was the right thing to do, to help myself recover from Christmas Eve. Boxing day my symptoms were more prevelant, aching and fatigue. I managed to have a bath with help in the afternoon, trying to make the most of being able to get to the bathroom and not wanting to smell of course. I rested again afterwards in the hope of getting downstairs again that evening. Remember my basic target is to get downsairs everyday. I managed to get to the top of the stairs and went to shout down for help to get down, but that just ended up as a "help, me stand up and get back to bed." I was in too much pain and exhausted to manage it. It made me quite dissapointed as I was bored lying in bed and wanted some company but in the grander scheme of things that's the first time in a long time that I've not managed to get downstairs at least once a day. And I had a pretty good reason for not being able to. So I wasn't too down on myself.

Boxing day night the wind was terrible, but luckily I was so shattered that I managed to sleep well. I think though that listening to the wind made me huddle up more in bed so trying to get up yesterday morning was just agony and I couldn't do it without help. Damn bladder again, I would have stayed where I was if I hadn't needed to pee. I'm sure my Mum appreciated the 5am text for help too.

Yesterday (27th) was probably the worst suffering wise, all my muscles ached and my pain killers weren't having much of an effect. I thought though that if I could try and move around a bit it may help to loosen up the muscles and distract me somewhat. Luckily I managed to bum shuffle downstairs and plonk myself in front of the television for the afternoon. Woo back to back Cake Boss and the Downton Christmas special! This made the suffering more bareable but I was still clock watching for my next lot of pain killers.

One thing that did really help me through the post Christmas suffering though was the support of other ME suffers on Twitter. We all knew that we weren't the only ones in pain and could help each other through. I have 'met' some lovely peole on there, one even sent me a handmade personalised bracelet as a Christmas present. It's good to be able to reachout to people that know exactly what you're going through and can help you to see some brightness. It's also lovely to be able to offer support to others and feel part of a community, which is difficult when you can't socialise often. It's difficult to cope with the feeling of being punished for just trying to be 'normal.'

So enough of the rubbish and let me focus on the good. Because it's really important to find something bright in each day even though on the whole the outlook is bleak. Well actually Christmas Eve was filled with lovely moments and I was able to do as I planned (see my post It's beginning to look a look a lot like Christmas).

The day started earlier than planned as my nephews came round earlier  so I lost a couple of hours rest. But I hate not being 'present' when my nephews are here. It's easy to get into the mindset though of 'I'm just sitting.' They came round early as they were full of cold and then of course in the spirit of Christmas generousity kindly gave me a cough. I love them really. Then everyone else kind of arrived at once. I met my cousin(ish)/Polish Goddess's new boyfriend (Hi Jon!) and cue giggles and some very in depth conversations about ME and mental illnesses. And how horrified we were about the sign language interpretter at Nelson Mandela's funeral being mocked. That man has reached the most prestigous height in his career to have been given the duty of such an event despite all of his demons of such a misunderstood illness. He was left on his own whereas they should work in teams infront of the worlds media and some of the worlds most powerful people yet he fought to get through, he couldn't very well leave the stage. How many people when faced with trauma and distress could keep calm? Schizophrenia does not make someone a violent person. If he had suffered something physical on that stage he would have had sympathy but instead he was mocked. Okay, sorry for going waaaay of topic. It's just something that really riled me. It annoys me that mental illnesses have such bad reputations. Most people that are diagnosed with a mental illness just want to be able to live normal lives and are scared not be labelled.

Anyhow back on topic, perhaps that's where I used up much of my energy. I managed to help myself to some food and feed myself so that was a plus. Most of the evening I was sat with my feet up. At one stage everyone else was in the kitchen and I was the only one in the living room, which felt a bit odd. By the time we got round to giving out presents I was really beginning to flag. I couldn't hand my gifts out and was just sat like the Queen of Sheeba as people came to me bearing gifts. I wished I'd have looked that good and not a baggy eyed zombie moulded to the sofa. I couldn't even open my own presents so my Mum had to open most of them for me. Her trying not to open them and peaking what it was before I got to see. I got one present in a gift bag which I thought I could hopefully manage but someone was a bit over zealous with the selotape and the gifts inside were all wrapped. So tip number one for giving gifts to people with chronic illness or pain; use a gift bag and not seal it shut like an Egyptian curse and you don't need to wrap the gifts that are inside. Tip number two; be economical with the selotape whether it be on a gift bag or wrapped present. And tip number 3; more expensive thicker wrapping paper is very nice but very hard to rip open (yes I know you should unfold it neatly) but ripping is easier on our more weak muscles. So cheap wrapping paper is much better for us. Hopefully it hasn't ripped too much in the wrapping and delivering process.

I recieved some lovely gifts. Very thoughtful things that are much needed like new pyjamas, new slippers, dressing gown ( IT'S SO FLUFFY!) and books. A spa voucher, which I'm thinking maybe to treat myself to an Indian head massage and facial. I do enjoy back, neck and shoulder massages but it can be touch and go with the Fibromyalgia whether it does more harm than good. Lying on a heated surface in the sauna and steam rooms should really help though and hopefully I'll be able to manage a jacuzzi. My most touching gifts, other than the personalised bracelet, was the two spoon necklaces I got (see photos). They will remind me to use my spoons wisely and on the people that deserve them. That it's not wrong to put myself first. Or to waste spoons on matters beyond me or people that do not deserve to occupy too much head space. I also feel that in giving me these spoons it's a symbol of the support and understanding they give me. That they are willing to use their spoons to help me where they can so I don't have to suffer as much. Oh wow this is emotional. Are you crying Mother dearest?

Afterwards I was really struggling. I actually fell asleep. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately it was during a conversation with my cousin and Nanna. I've heard most of it before so I don't think I missed much. My parents tried to get me up to bed with me looking like a drunk being escorted from a nightclub. Getting up the stairs was interesting. I fell asleep and started to slide down. Waking up because of the pain of my parents trying to keep me upright.

So was it worth it? Of course it was. The escapeism of normal life is refreshing. It's good to be included and to join in where you can. Otherwise morale can really suffer and as I have said time and time again I am so conscious of not getting my self into a severe state of depression again. It truly scares me. These moments to spend with family and friends are so important and keep us strong. I couldn't cope without them. I only wish that we didn't have to suffer for it, just for trying to get some normality and fun. It's one of the most unjust things about chronic illness.

So to all sufferers I hope you are resting and regaining some strength. Talk to one another. We can help each other through. But I also hope you feel it was worth it. That you made some lovely memories and had a good time. And for all non spoonies I hope you had a great Christmas too.


  1. I think you're fully entitled to be like the Queen of Sheeba when you're suffering with ME. I love your gift bag tips they are excellent. I'm so glad you managed to take part in Christmas and that you feel the after effects are worth it. You're so right that escapism is vital to maintain a positive frame of mind. I love the spoonie necklace, what a great idea. I hope you're resting up well and regaining your strength. Happy New Year, I hope 2014 brings you health and happiness. Jess xx

    1. I was indeed like the Queen of Sheeba, even had my presents opened. Here's to a positive 2014. So much to look forward to. So take that ME! Sending you lots of well wishes and hope you continue to progress.xx