Diet… Day 51. Wash-Out… Day 12.

Last night I drempt that I had been out socialising with friends and I started to crash. I couldn’t get back home, so I was trying to get my husband to find me a hotel room… I had to lie down… I was going to collapse… please help me, it’s dark and wet and where is everyone?… I just need a bed for a few hours… I don’t want to die… And then rats attacked me. They were fat and wet and squeaking and hanging off of me everywhere… I woke up panting while I was being eaten by the rats. I was scared shitless and didn’t know where I was and my sheets were wet from sweat.

I have, however, been feeling a little stronger the last few days. Not strong, but stronger. My headache has eased up enough to be manageable with epsom salt baths, the tens unit and icy hot spray on my neck. The pain and stiffness in my back doesn’t have me in tears and the exhaustion seems to be controlled. Just a normal ME/CFS exhaustion, not a crippling, slurring, crawling-up-the-stairs exhaustion. I have a new symptom driving me batty: constant pins and needles in my right foot for the last 3 days. It moved into my calf last night, but doesn’t seem to be there today. I have had this before in my hands and I have the Raynaud’s issues in my feet, but I can’t remember this maddening constant tingling before.

My days have become very predictable. I am up at around 8:30am, after about 7 to 7.5 hours sleep. I have GREEN tea now and, for breakfast, homemade granola with almond milk and a smoothie (today was pear, pineapple, strawberry smoothie with flax seed, coconut milk and walnuts) while I do some “work” on the computer (pay bills and curse Comcast and Verizon, see how our budget is going, answer emails, apply for disability but get overwhelmed and stop, try to make an Amazon Fresh shopping list because I can’t go grocery shopping and decide it’s too much energy and too expensive, research ME treatments and start to bang my head off the wall, research MRI stories and wish I had the option of Valium, write in my blog etc.). Then I warm up my muscles with a bath or the hot tub, do some stretches and then a meditation, which I always try to turn into a nap. Then lunch (usually a salad or soup or tuna and I’m currently addicted to Terra Chips) and maybe some house chores if I’m able. Maybe some reading or some more computer time. Another meditation (rest before and after activity, always. Resting is considered only lying down with eyes closed, awake, meditating or sleeping, says Dr. Bested). Walk around the house, if I’m able and then the evening with my husband, having dinner (whatever is leftover or whatever he makes because I’m virtually never able to stand for long in the evening without hitting that pain and exhaustion wall), watching a movie ~ whatever I can manage. Another meditation if I’m not going to bed early. Most of the time I’m in bed at 7 or 8pm, reading/researching. Some of the time I can stay upright until 9 or 10pm. I usually don’t turn off the lights until after 11pm.

My sister-in-law sent me a Stretching for Beginners DVD and usually anything anyone buys for me is too advanced because I’m more decrepit than they realised, but this DVD is good! I have done the sitting, standing and lying stretches ~ one on each day that I’m up for it. So far, it has felt good and I’m so proud of me. And I’m ecstatic that I haven’t pulled a muscle doing it. Maybe I’m finally learning. I walked five laps around my house yesterday. I’ve been wearing a pedometer this week and have taken between 1,700 and 2,200 steps each day. I realise this is not a lot — my dog park visits alone were over 2,000 steps — but, those numbers are including 400 to 500 steps walking laps around my house. There are many, many days when I’m not able to do that and my pedometer would say more like 1,000 steps at the end of the day, so I’m happy. I want so desperately to double, triple those steps. I want to go outside and run as hard as I can for as long as I can. On top of everything else I have had to endure, the patience needed to deal with this disease is mind-blowing. Every time I have to go upstairs or downstairs, I think, “What can I take with me?” so I don’t waste any trip. Every movement is about conservation, every day is planned, every physical feeling analysed to ascertain whether it was caused by too much of some activity or emotion. Damn, I shouldn’t have done laundry… I knew I shouldn’t have chopped those vegetables… If only I hadn’t lost my temper… From now on, I must sit down when I dry my hair…

My mood is much better, which is probably why I’m feeling stronger and my symptoms seem a bit more manageable. I think my Mother and brother being here helped give me strength. Plus, I got to Skype with both of my best friends in the last week and that is like a pain killer. Literally ~ people can be pain killers. It’s amazing.

Something else helped nudge me from defeat into fight-mode: I read that there are multiple studies putting the average age of death of ME/CFS patients in the late 50s. That’s about 30 years too early. On the one hand, I’m very grateful that I might have 20 more years to live and, on the other hand, I’m devastated that I might only have 20 more years to live. I’m not emotional over it. It just caused me to think, Alright, time to get over this now because I’m not going to die in my 50s, dammit. Obviously, I’m not just going to “get over it”, but it made the fight come out a little. I can’t just accept that this is permanent because I don’t want to be one of those statistics. So, time to heal. Seriously.

My back is killing me, I have to stop typing now. So, a moment of gratitude: I am grateful every single day that I am not worse off. I am grateful for walking and talking and typing. I am grateful for eating and drinking and showering myself. I am grateful I was never in a motor vehicle accident, never got fungal meningitis from a steroid injection, never got shot or stabbed or beaten up. Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more… oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!

It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it
are troubled with troubles almost every minute.
You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot,
for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not!

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F.E.A.R. … for everything, a reason.

I have so much to say and nothing to say. I have never been so emotional in my life and never been so numb.


Quick recap: while having a “good day” last Thursday, I met with my old bosses, went to a two-hour doctor appointment and walked around the dog park for an hour. For five days afterwards, I was in extraordinary muscle and bone pain, had crushing headaches, could barely move, couldn’t stop crying and have had night sweats every night. Last night I took a quarter of a Norco and it took the edge off the pain. A quarter of a pill! People take, like, ten of those a day. I don’t get it.

After researching the number of cases of M.E. that are significantly worse because of enforced exercise or the patient pushing themselves, I am hanging in this limbo of fear. Fear of unintentionally overexerting myself and setting back my recovery permanently. Can I not go to the dog park? Should I not be talking on the phone? Should I stop people from coming to my house? Because the second I feel better and the pain eases up, I want to do things. And by “things” I mean take a walk, try cooking a meal, fold the laundry, play with the dogs. And what if I try drugs that make me feel better? It’ll be even harder to refrain from activity. God forbid my pain is taken away and I walk upstairs too quickly or laugh too hard. I’m also in fear of losing all muscle mass, all flexibility, all joint movement, and, scariest of all, fear of irreparable damage to my bones. Years ago I was diagnosed with osteopenia in my hips after a bone scan. I think it was 0.1 point off putting me in the osteoporosis range. They told me to take calcium, vitamin D and do weight-bearing exercise. Did I do any of those things? Nope. I started taking vitamin D about 6 months ago, I still don’t take calcium and now I’m not eating dairy and I’m unable to do weight-bearing exercise. Or cardio, obviously, which is sorely needed, since I’ve never done cardio workouts. My job was my exercise ~ running around restaurants ~ and yoga, too, back in the day. I’m also in fear of the drugs that might make me feel better. I don’t want to try 20 antidepressants to find the right one, I don’t want to put on 30 lbs from Lyrica or gabapentin, I don’t want to feel groggy and crazy from sleeping pills, I don’t want to deal with weaning off and withdrawal symptoms… But, most of all, I’m terrified of an allergic reaction. Having experienced anaphylactic shock, swollen tongue, not being able to breathe, syncope, headaches that feel like you might die, low pulse etc… I know how scary it is. And I hope I never have to use my Epipen because I HATE epinephrine. It feels like I’m jacked up on speed and not in a good way. It feels like it stops my heart and then zaps it back at 5 times the normal heart rate ~ I won’t even let them use it at the dentist, I’d rather have a 100 injections in my gums than just one with epinephrine that’ll keep the anesthetic in my body. Finally, despite my 8 commandments, I am in fear of being home-bound (not homeward-bound, big difference. I wish I was…) for the rest of my life and losing my mind. Or, worse, being drugged out of my mind and my husband having to take care of me and losing his mind. Or, worse, getting worse in this disease or another disease or getting a cold or a chest infection or food poisoning or any of the millions of things that could make this so. much. worse. … and not caring anymore whether I even have a mind to lose.

So, my doctor appointment today. I had a physical and a stress test. They told me to fast for blood work, which turned out not to be necessary. I don’t know about you, but, not having my tea and breakfast in the morning messes everything up — and now that includes my supplement schedule — so, I was not functioning. I was shaking and achy and cold. My blood pressure was 84/60, my temperature was 99.4. A doctor finally touched me! He poked and prodded and said my labs looked fine (cholesterol, liver). Shocker. He wanted to do X-rays of my spine but I asked him to hold off because I have had a LOT of radiation lately and in life. He referred me to a neurologist and a rheumatologist (more doctors, yay) and gave me an Rx for Ambian CR and Lyrica.

I said, ” You’re starting me at the lowest dose of Lyrica, right?”
He said, “Yep, 75mg twice a day.”
I said, “If there is anything lower, PLEASE start me lower.”
He said, “Ok, 50mg twice a day.”
I said, “Ok, 50mg once a day.”
“Ok…50mg once a day to start with…at bedtime.”
“No, in the afternoon so I can monitor the effects.”
“Ok, fine…to start with. See me in a week so I can see how you’re doing on the Lyrica.”
“See you a week after I start the Lyrica?”
“Yes, which will be in ONE week because you’re starting it tonight.”
“Don’t count on it.”

That’s the exact conversation. I then went to do the stress test. They hook you up to electrodes and put you on a treadmill. It took about 45 minutes to get to the standing on the treadmill part. For fuck’s sake, I don’t care if you see me take my shirt off, you don’t have to explain everything in minute detail at a snail’s pace, I know what an electrode is, I know what a heart is, I am freezing and hungry and I’ve had no tea and I need to get home and sit down, hurry up! Here’s the sad part, I walked at 1 mile an hour for 2 minutes. It felt fine, like being at the dog park. Then she increased it to 2 miles an hour. This was fast for me. I don’t walk this fast since I got sick. I did it for 2 minutes and then the incline increased. I was fine, but starting to get worried about the repercussions. My thighs started to burn, but I was fine, it actually felt good. Burning muscles! What I would give to work my muscles so hard they burned from the effort and the next day I would be sore and think, “I had a great workout.” But, after the past 5 days, I was so scared of what this atypical movement would do to my body. The fear of tonight, the fear of no tomorrow. At the 6th minute, when the incline went up again and I really wanted to push myself, see how high my heart rate could go and feel my breath quicken, I quit. I felt okay, I felt I could have pushed through. I probably even could have run briefly, but I was too scared of what it would do to my muscles and how it might set back my recovery. The monitor moved and blipped steadily with my heart… But it didn’t show it breaking.

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Diet Day 16… Breakfast Oat Bars: Dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free (one of them).

So, here are the two different versions of breakfast oat bars I made. I think they’re both pretty good and it was only my first try, so I’m sure I’ll make them even better next time.

Baked Oatmeal Sugar-free Bars

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup any chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup any dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup any seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1.25 cups soy milk
  • 1 egg (I substituted apple sauce)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Mix dry ingredients.
  3. Mix wet ingredients.
  4. Pour wet into dry. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish either coated in cooking spray or lined with parchment.
  6. Bake for 40-60 minutes.
  7. Cut into squares.

While delicious, the only sweetness in these comes from the dried fruit. Add in 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar  or splenda or agave syrup or whatever sweetener you like.

Chewy Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup any chopped nuts
  • 1/4 cup any dried fruit (optional)
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vanilla-flavoured almond milk

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Process 2 cups rolled oats in blender until they become flour-like.
  3. Mix “oat flour” with dry ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Mix wet ingredients.
  5. Pour wet into dry. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour into a 9×9 baking dish either coated in cooking spray or lined with parchment.
  7. Bake for 20-40 minutes.
  8. Cut into squares.

Of course, I prefer the second “chewy” ones because they have all that syrup and coconut, but that’s not the only reason. The first ones are kind of wet. It’s like the milk bound to the oats, sunk to the bottom and got claggy. It’s not bad ~ it looks pretty on top with all the nuts and fruit, but I think perhaps I need to cook it more. Next time, I think I will make the second version, add seeds and dried fruit (which I left out) and omit some of the syrup…