I will always remember the dates. The date of that first opticians appointment. The date I stopped driving. The date of my first doctors appointment. The date I was diagnosed. The date I first went to the CFS/ME clinic…
On the 10th September 2010 my M.E. journey began. My vision was fuzzy and impaired but different from what you might experience when the prescription in your glasses is incorrect. A trip to the opticians found nothing wrong despite the feeling of intense and acute pressure behind my right eye.
On the 25th September things really kicked up a gear. I had been out for a few drinks the night before and I have been hungover ever since. True story. An ’emergency’ doctors appointment had to be made for the 28th; the first of many that would come over the next few weeks and eventually lead to a referral to a neurologist. By the end of October I’d had to give up my job and had turned down the interviews I’d been offered after graduating.
My wait for answers wasn’t nearly as long as some people’s is but it felt too long when the words brain tumour entered into the equation. On the 18th November 2010, a few days before my 22nd birthday, I got my diagnosis. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. (The doctors would later refer to it as M.E. or CFS/ME or CFS or ME/CFS…I didn’t care if they called it Yuppie Flu, it just sucked.)
I was told by the neurologist to “have a quiet Christmas” and see how I was after that. We’ve had three quiet Christmases now and we’re heading towards our fourth!
I guess the clue was in the word ‘chronic’ eh?
Anyway, that’s all boring. This is meant to be a celebration!
I saw a couple of friends recently and I was asked what I’d been up to. My answer was “nothing much”, but that was a lie and I didn’t even realise it! I had climbed mountains that morning just by getting dressed, and battling with myself to stay calm as the nerves were beginning to rise at the thought of being in a noisy pub, and walking from the car, and coping with the heat, and not bursting into tears when the M.E. suddenly decided it didn’t want to go out and see friends afterall.
Like I’ve said before, these are my greatest achievements but with the predominantly awful month of August, now branded as Awful August, I had lost sight of that fact. I now feel back to my best (obviously not physically) and that is worth celebrating; that I have yet again picked myself up, dusted myself off and carried on.
I am celebrating the fact that I have remained sane and survived three years of near-hell. Three years is a long time. It’s fair to say things have lasted a lot longer than we could have ever imagined. If it was our wedding anniversary M.E. and I would be buying each other leather gifts!
I used to wonder whether certain people looked at me now, or heard through the grapevine about my ‘situation’, and felt I’d got my comeuppance – after years of being sports captain and deputy head girl and getting good grades and never getting into trouble. I don’t think that anymore. If there are people who think such things then they are not good people.
I choose to concentrate on the good. There is much good if you take the time to find it. The bad likes the limelight every once in a while but the good always wins in the end. Well, it does in my head anyway. Sure there might be times when the bad outweighs the good but that doesn’t mean that the good isn’t still there, somewhere.
So three cheers to us! The sufferer, the family, the friends, the people I’ve never met but now know so well. To you all; the people who take the time out of their own lives to read about mine.
Chronic illness has done its very best to beat me down and break my spirit but still it is very much M.E. myself and I, rather than just M.E. I’m giving it a good run for it’s money and, ultimately, we are working together, as a team, to get back to better health and ‘normality’. It’s a partnership, like living with The Gorilla. (The Gorilla In Your House.)
M.E. wins many of the battles but I’ll win the war, even if that simply means I stay hopeful during the darkest of days. Go me!
Any excuse for a slice of cake hey?