…and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him…

I don’t think I have the energy to write much because I have big plans today like making a few phone calls and washing my cpap. I’m also determined to do my stretches today, which I haven’t been able to do for ages. I had 19 very bad days. The worst day of all was two days ago. My brother, a pilot, was in town overnight and I wasn’t able to see him. I haven’t seen him since August, 2011 ~ two months before I got sick. I kept thinking, I manage to get to a doctor appointment and talk for 45 minutes, but I’m not able to meet my brother for breakfast? But he has another layover here in two weeks, so I get a second chance.

Then, right after that horrible day, miraculously, yesterday I felt better. Not great, but better. I wish I could adequately describe the difference between a bad-but-not-horrible day and a good-but-not-great day. They are worlds apart. Instead of getting out of a chair like a crippled, arthritic 90 year old, I get up like a typical 39 year old who is in pain. Instead of walking up the stairs to the bathroom delicately, with difficulty, concentrating on each baby step and clutching at the walls, I walk up slowly, heavily, but without much thought. Instead of watching tv as still as a statue, unable to smile, needing to block my ears at loud noises, but having a hard time holding my hands up to my head, I can laugh and operate the remote control. Instead of unhappily eating an apple or drinking an Ensure to pad my stomach for the pills I have to take, I am hungry and look forward to eating a (really boring) meal.

I looked in the mirror yesterday and there was pink in my cheeks, but not in a feverish way. I had been ashen for weeks ~ grey skin, dull yellow eyes ~ and overnight it looked like I had taken a walk outside. It feels like the Monster, who has been crushing you in both hands for weeks on end, had to scratch his nose or something and, with one of his hands not pressing in on you, you are suddenly able to take a breath… to have a conversation without sweating and shaking… you are able to pet your dogs and hug your husband and make granola. And the whole time you are thinking, thank you thank you thank you. That is when I can see a tiny seed of hope. I have to remember in the despairing, dark days of pain, that there will be another day in the future when the Monster has to let go to answer the phone or smoke a cigarette or whatever… and you will be able to move a little easier.

monster

I saw the Good Doctor on Monday and she is adamant that I stay away from dairy, gluten and grains still. I am also back on all the same supplements as before, plus berberine to combat yeast and magnesium to help pain and sleep (note to those that may not know: magnesium glycinate is the form that should not mess with your bowels. Other forms can help you poop or cause diarrhea, depending on how much you take). I’m thrilled. After months of stagnation, I have forward momentum. I told her, “I don’t care what we do, but I have to do something. If you don’t want me back on the supplements yet, I’m going to start the Chinese herbs.” After much research online into ME/CFS experts’ protocols, I was bolstered to see many of the same supplements that the Good Doc has me on (CoQ10, fish oil, acetyl-L-carntine etc.). I started them again on Monday and I wonder if they contributed to the uptick on Thursday. Placebo effect doesn’t really work with this disease in me, as much as I wish it would. It might make me feel a little lighter or more hopeful, but the placebo effect cannot cause the difference between practically bedbound and able to walk and talk. It’s more likely the fact that I slept fairly well Wednesday night ~ 8.5 hours. My plan is to start Cymbalta on Monday or whenever the initial nausea from the supplements wears off… so I can deal with the initial nausea of the Cymbalta. Joy.

Here’s my daily regimen:

 daily pills

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An Update on my day-to-day…

Here is an update for those of you that have tried to contact me. I’m okay. Not great, but okay. After the Worst Headache, I had an up-swing for two weeks, feeling like I had more energy, less pain, more mobility and JOY. Today is day 14 of the subsequent down-swing. I have been struggling. I’m in constant pain, which gets worse in the evening. I have a headache and sore throat every day, my neck and my lower back are stiff, inflamed, screaming. There are jolts up and down my spine. My hands ache, my jaw is tender and I don’t even recognise my eyes anymore. Sunken and puffy, swollen, red, dry and circled with purple. I’ve had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, I’ve only been able to do my stretches every other day, I’ve only been able to do 2 to 6 laps of the house, I’ve been walking somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 steps each day. I haven’t been sleeping very well and my deep sleep keeps dwindling (according to the Zeo). However, I’m still walking, I’m still talking, I’m still sitting at a computer, I’m still bathing myself and making my way around the house. I’m still breathing. Focus on the positive!

I continue to use the CPAP, but I’m still having difficulty. The nose pillows-with-tape-over-my-mouth routine allows me to move around in my sleep and rest my head on its side, but I wake constantly from the air inflating my cheeks or traveling around my gums. It is the weirdest thing. I will wake up because there is a worm of air crawling its way along the outside of my bottom teeth. It will journey along my gum line in the front of my mouth and find a tiny outlet between my lips to whistle its way out. Or, I will awaken with one cheek suddenly puffed out, ballooned with air. Or, my whole mouth will inflate so I look like a chipmunk ~ with a mask plugging my nose and tape over my mouth, I expect my ears and eyes to bulge out like those squeezy rubber dolls we played with as kids.

Also, the tape is wreaking havoc on the skin around my mouth and the inside of my nose is raw and sore. None of that happens with the full face mask, but I can’t turn on my side without it moving, air escaping and me waking. Unbelievably,  the former situation is the lesser of two evils. Far fewer mask parts to wash, too. The washing of the CPAP parts is a huge ordeal for someone with ME. It is not an easy chore and almost negates the better sleep I am meant to be getting. The dental device that my father recommended costs $600 – $800, which I would spend if I could be guaranteed it would work. For right now, I just don’t have the energy to tackle a new appointment with a new dentist to get a new device.

The last few nights I have awakened in the throes of the full-body flex that I have talked about before. It’s as if there is an arc of electricity going through my body: back arched, toes curled, arms and legs rigid, hands in fists. I have thrown my neck out this way before. I now wonder if a muscle relaxant taken before bed is the answer for this. I’ve taken 1mg of melatonin a few nights this last week and I think it might help a little (or maybe it’s the placebo effect), but not enough. I should have taken my GP up on the offer for Ambien or Traxodone or Flexeril, but I’m such a scaredy-cat. It has to stop, though. I don’t think I’ll improve without pharmaceutical intervention. I’ve been taking tylenol with codeine every day the last few weeks and it’s not very effective at the low doses I like to take ~ plus, it gives me a kind of hangover. On Monday, I start Cymbalta. Duh duh duuuhhhhh….. Please don’t let me chicken out. I need to try something. My doctor said to expect to feel crappy for the first few weeks. But, in theory, it should help with the chronic pain, sleep and anxiety.

I continue my no-dairy-no-gluten-no-eggs-no-most-grains diet. I enjoyed starchy veg and popcorn over the last week, but, starting today, I am removing them from my diet again. I might be removing rice and/or oats, too. I am going to talk to the Good Doctor about that on Monday. After a lecture from my husband about what systemic yeast overgrowth might look/feel like, I am also going to try a little more diligently to cut down on sugar in all forms ~ fruit juice, dried fruit, Theo chocolate bars, agave syrup in my granola, cane sugar in my almond milk etc.

I sit here looking out the window at my husband in the garden, pruning our plum tree. He is tireless. Even when he has no work, he never stops working. He rakes leaves and mows the lawn and scoops poop. He shuttles me to and from appointments, does the shopping, cooks dinner. He washes dishes, hoovers, puts on sheets. In the past few years, he has rewired the house, replumbed the house, put in under-floor heating, cleaned out the rat shit and reinsulated the attic, built a second bathroom, expanded the first, built a shed for a new water heater and installed it himself. He landscaped our whole garden with an expertise that knew what it would look like in years to come ~ if he planted certain shrubs, trees and flowers in certain places at certain times of the year, given time, it would be a masterpiece. He built and tends the vegetable garden, he repaired our chimney and built me a porch with a little heater so I could get some daylight in the winter. He deals with his own physical problems and health issues and never complains. My brother called him a saint. My mother called him a hero. I call him a life saver. Without a shadaw of a doubt, I wouldn’t still be here without him. Gratitude is too small of a word.