Monday, 27 July 2020

Parallels between CFS and a Pandemic

Who would have thought that there were parallels between getting Ross River Fever and then Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the COVID-19 Pandemic? I didn't...but I'm seeing so many things I've experienced before.

When I had Ross River, I had to give up work, socialising, going out, drinking alcohol... it felt like life. I was confined to a bed or couch for months. Having a shower claimed almost all of my energy for the day. Going to the loo was such an effort that I'd wait until I had to go...but need to give myself enough time to take the slow, exhausting steps to get there. Sometimes I'd have to sleep for a few hours after a bathroom visit - and I got no choice about that, my body would just konk out.

So life became whatever I could manage to do inside the confines of my home. And I grieved the loss of everything I had and was. But giving words to that loss was impossible. How do you explain that?
Fifteen years later, enter COVID-19 and lockdown. I've lost a little bit of freedom but overall my life is unchanged. My lockdown happened years ago with a different virus.

For those of you struggling this year, I understand your loss of life. I understand your grief at having the things you love taken away from you. I understand how your freedom has been curtailed. I know how much your heart aches at the loss of life as you knew it.

Viruses are sneaky little bastards. They sneak in unseen, and cause absolute mayhem and chaos. You don't get to see them - just the havoc they cause.

If you're struggling with the impacts of Covid, can I suggest you check out some of the wisdom offered by anyone suffering a chronic illness? They've negotiated these kind of restrictions and have found ways to live when living is changed.

Here are some sites that have helped me:

Loss of life and the things you have always done is a real loss. It causes grief. It hurts your heart and your mind. The uncertainty around when it may end, or if it will ever end, does dreadful things to your psyche. Depression, anguish, grief, sadness, overwhelm, anger...these emotions and more are all completely valid.

I wish I could give you an easy answer for carrying on. I can't. It's been a struggle to reinvent myself over the last 15 years, and I'm still working on that.

I've decided that life is about living in the best way I can, taking into account whatever has been thrown in my path. So, I'm on an ever evolving quest to bring joy to my life, fill myself with purpose each day...even if that's just taking a photo daily!

I hope you can find some joy and peace in this crazy crazy time.

Cath xo

Friday, 29 May 2020

CFS and the Dentist

Not my teeth! Giant Toadfish
This week's been tough. Unexpectedly tough...even though I should have expected it. And that's the nuisance of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), sometimes the most mundane thing will knock you, unexpectedly, for six.

I went to the dentist a couple of weeks ago for a check up and clean - except they couldn't do a clean yet due to COVID-19 restrictions, so it was just a check up. Dentists in Australia had been shut for 8 weeks during the strictest part of the COVID-19 lockdown, and hadn't been open all that long.

I had a 'soft' part of one tooth, which the dentist filled there and then. No needle, just a 10 or 15 minute job. I came away perfectly okay, with a booking for this week when I could have a clean and he wanted to fill a tiny hole that was on the gumline between teeth (or something, some tricky area that needed more time).

I should have realised it would be more difficult and therefore hit me differently to the easy one...but no. It didn't dawn on me.

On Tuesday morning, I went. Had a needle. Spent 30 mins in the chair with way too many things in my mouth. Then another 15 mins for a clean. I came home, face numb, and began working. Of course work was busy. I worked until I noticed I was in a bit of pain. I swallowed some painkillers and kept working.

You know, right there, I should have realised I was pushing my body too hard...but I missed that cue.

At 4 pm, I had to have a nap because I was pushed way too far (pain, struggling to focus, cranky). I napped for about 90 minutes. Did I then take it slowly? Oh no.

Up and cooked dinner. Finished some work, b
efore going to bed.

And I struggled to sleep.

Another CFS overdone it cue.

I wasn't in any pain from my tooth, just messed up.

It's Friday now, and my body is still a total wreck. Sleep is all jangled up. I'm exhausted by walking a short distance. My body is not doing well eating - it's in healing mode. Focus is out the window. My emotions are all over the shop.

What can I do?

It's taken me about 15 years to know this, and I'm not sure it's right, but all I can do is sleep, forgive myself, rest, let my body tell me what it needs.

I'm a little desperate for acupuncture, but I think I have to wait for that. Hopefully it'll open next week but I'll have to check. Acupuncture seems to send a message to my body that I'm looking after it, that I care, that it can settle down and relax. I've no clue how it does that, but I'm not questioning when something works!

So... two trips to the dentist, with two vastly different reactions. And that's CFS. Sometimes it kicks you in the hardest way when you didn't plan for it.