Friday, March 02, 2018

Flashback Friday: 16 Years Ago Today...

Happy Illiversary to me!
16 years ago today, my life forever split into Before and After.

16 years ago today, my life changed dramatically, though I had no idea at the time.

16 years ago today, I woke up feeling awful, with a severe sore throat, exhausted, and achy all over. I thought I had a bad virus, but it never went away.

16 years ago today, I forced myself out of bed because we'd planned a day trip to Baltimore with our young sons, and I didn't want to ruin the special treat. I still vividly remember barely being able to hold myself up at the National Aquarium, clinging to the handrails, and thinking that it was the worst sore throat I'd ever had and so different from other sore throats.

(For more details on the start of my illness and those early years, read Our Story)

Another year has gone by of my post-ME/CFS life. Today makes 16 years, but the anniversaries don't really bother me much anymore. Someone asked me yesterday when I got sick, and I said, "About 16 years ago....oh! exactly 16 years ago tomorrow!" That date which once loomed so horribly over me each year now feels like any other day, but the anniversaries used to be tougher.

I was feeling bittersweet on my 5th Illiversary, doing a bit better overall with treatment, but recalling that researchers and doctors often cite 5 years as a turning point (that few people completely recover after being ill longer than 5 years).

By year 8, I was feeling less contemplative. By then, having ME/CFS was just a part of my new normal.

When I hit 10 years of illness, I barely noticed the anniversary date, even though it was a milestone year. I was focused on my sick kids by that point, and my own illness had become the norm for me by then.

Baltimore 2016 - in a museum!
My 14th Illiversary was a triumph of sorts, as I returned to Baltimore with my husband, this time able to enjoy the city, including plenty of walking (though I still needed my afternoon nap!). It was my first time ever visiting an art museum, and the first time since getting sick that I could manage any kind of museum.

I'm sure I would feel differently about my ME/CFS anniversary if I was still as sick as I was in those first few years, but over the past 16 years, I have found many effective treatments that have greatly improved my symptoms (and my life), allowing me to be much more active and making crashes rare. I still need my daily nap and have some limitations, but I am quite happy with my life these days. I met a friend for lunch today, picked up my car from the shop, and spent most of the day writing, so that's a good day for me. Ten years ago, I wasn't even been able to sit up to write - I had to lie down on the couch with my laptop propped up (beta blockers are to thank for that improvement).

So, Happy Illiversary to me!

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