Monday, May 15, 2006

Out of the Abyss - Again

I feel as if I've just woken up from a week-long coma. I haven't felt good in several weeks, but I was coping. Then, last Monday I went into a severe crash - one of my worst ever - that lasted a full week. I spent most of the week in bed, too sick to even read or watch tv.

I feel the need to document this lost week, so I won't forget what it's like and what I'm fighting against. I also want to remember how much other people with CFIDS are suffering. Whenever I crash badly like this, I think constantly about all of the people who feel that bad every day. I know I am lucky to have periods where I can still function, even if it's only 60% of how I used to function. I am appalled and amazed at the thought of so many people, all over the world, who cope every day with the kind of debilitation I experienced last week, being housebound or bedridden and feeling unable to escape.

My one week seemed unending. We spent the weekend at my Mom's house in Connecticut, along with my sister and her family, to celebrate Mother's Day. I was struggling to get through the weekend, but by Saturday night, I hit rock bottom.

I hurt all over, felt exhausted but couldn't sleep, and no longer had the strength to keep my spirits up. I crawled into bed and sobbed. After a week of suffering, with no end in sight, my mind was in a near-panic state, all optimism forgotten. Terrified thoughts bounced around in my head: "I can't take it anymore. Nothing can help me. I just want to escape." I stumbled into the room where my boys were sleeping, to remind myself of what I was living for, what I was fighting for. I said a silent prayer that it was me suffering so much this time and not either of them.
Desperate for any comfort, I gently removed one of their many stuffed animals from the bed. I went back to my own bed and resumed my tossing and turning, clutching the tiny beanbag dog like a life raft. Benadryl and Ambien finally won out over my pain, but I felt as if I was only half-asleep all night. My body hurt wherever it touched the mattress, so I was constantly moving around to try to get comfortable. I awoke in the morning no better, still in a fog of pain and exhaustion, still feeling as if I could not live with this illness a moment longer.

By the time we got home last night, I felt good - not just better, but really good for the first time in weeks. It was like being reborn. I felt like myself again.

What makes this crazy illness turn itself on and off? It's maddening to have no control, to be so helpless. During my crash, I tried everything to make myself feel better. Meditation, gentle yoga, lots of rest, extra supplements - all of these things will normally help me. None of them are miracle cures but each thing helps a little bit. Not last week. Nothing I did made any difference at all. It didn't matter how much I rested, I always woke feeling even worse. Maybe this crash was triggered by allergies (my eyes hurt horribly last week), maybe a virus made my immune system go into overdrive, maybe all the storms last week affected me. What does it matter if there's nothing I can do about it?

As important as remembering the extent of my suffering, I also want to remember what it feels like when it ends. I was elated last night by the simple, normal feeling of having energy - just normal energy like most people have every day. I could sit up, I could take care of my kids, I could sleep without heavy sedation. What a gift!! I am so thankful today to feel "CFIDS-normal" that just writing about it brings tears to my eyes.

To all those people out there who suffer so much every day, my thoughts are with you. I admire your courage and will do all I can to help move research forward for myself, my children, and everyone else suffering from this horrible disease.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some recent British CFIDS links for you. (But we call it ME or CFS)

(Meridian TV is a major local news programme for the south of England. The Daily Mail and the Telegraph are both national British newspapers.)