Watch your back Mary Berry!

I am on a quest to find an M.E-friendly hobby (if such a thing exists!)

Now I have never been a culinary whizz. Far from it. When I worked as a nanny I was known to manage nothing more than burnt beans on undercooked toast. I had never chopped an onion until the age of 21 and once used a garlic press to ‘grate’ cheese because I had no idea what it was really for. Nevertheless, I thought I’d have a go at baking.

I am in the process of trying to find out what foods disagree with me and my M.E. I’ve just finished a sugar detox where I completely cut out all sugar, even natural sugars. This was not easy!

So I’ve bought myself some ingredients to give me something to do and to also give me something to eat that won’t upset my stomach.

To be able to bake I had to adjust my baseline targets. I had to miss out having a shower and getting changed. I also skipped my drive.

Baking. Sounds simple enough. Wrong!

First, you have to get your ingredients out of the fridge or cupboards. This involves walking to and fro, bending down, pulling open the fridge door, carrying ingredients that is actually quite heavy for weaklings like me…

Next I have to bend down to get a mixing bowl and the weighing scales. This makes the muscles in my legs burn and I usually haven’t got enough strength in my legs to get back up without getting on my hands and knees and pulling myself up by grabbing onto a chair.

Then I sit in a chair and put my legs up on another chair because my body struggles to pump blood back up my legs which can make me feel faint…

Now I have to concentrate on the recipe. I have to read the instructions carefully, all the while contending with my blurred vision. I have make sure I put the correct quantities in and double check everything because I can no longer trust my brain to follow instructions first time round.

I have to use my arms to mix the mixture, or cope with the noise of the food processor. I have to get up and down from my chair to get ingredients from the fridge that I’ve forgotten, or to put things in the bin.

When I’ve actually mixed the ingredients it needs to go in the oven. I must remember that ovens are hot and so I need oven gloves on. I have to bend down and balance so as to get the trays into the oven without falling over or dropping them.

Then I wait. But I can’t relax because (as I have learnt) it isn’t wise to forget about things being in the oven!

I know this must sound ridiculous. It sounds a bit silly to me too because baking used to be just one, simple task. Now though it is many tasks under the umbrella of baking. It’s all exhausting. You might be wondering whether it’s all worth the effort, especially when my creations taste much like cardboard! You might be right. Maybe it isn’t worth it. The payback that comes hand in hand with any activity can certainly make me wonder whether I should bother in the first place. Alas, I cannot live my life like that. I can’t, and won’t, avoid things just because they are no longer simple or straightforward or because I will suffer from the exertion afterwards. To do that would be to give up.

Last week was a baking week. I didn’t overdo it but I am paying the price for it anyway. Such is life with M.E! It is frustrating and soul-destroying and demoralising, but it is what it is. It’s no shock that I will suffer after activity. That’s how it works with M.E. In the same way that a ‘normal’ person might feel exhausted and sore after running a marathon, we feel that after most things. Daily life is our marathon.

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