“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Someone once said that calling this illness (disease? condition? ailment?) chronic fatigue is like calling Parkinson's "chronic shakiness syndrome." Really, the name is embarrassing. People just don't get it. When they hear that moniker, they think, "Ok, well then just go take a nap!" Ah, if it were only that easy!

So, I'm here to chronicle life with chronic fatigue. And, since I haven't told anyone about my blog yet, I can be pretty honest and get away with it.

What is CFS?
CFS is the elephant graveyard for all diseases that the doctor can't quite put his finger on -- the ethereal, undiagnosable, strange diseases that in the past were labeled non-existent. So, now instead of "You're crazy," we have CFS.

What does CFS look like?
Fat - I weigh more than I did after my 6th child.
Flabby - I've lost muscle. Like Schwarzenegger without a shirt. (Have you seen him lately?)
Old - I've aged 10 years in the last two.
Lazy - My house is a disaster.
Flighty - I am so forgetful! I even get disoriented driving to the store sometimes.
Flaky - Ok, sometimes I just can't do that, even if I promised or I really, really should.
Turret's - When people see my signature twitching, they tense up, expecting me to start swearing a blue streak.
Beaten up - The permanent dark circles under my eyes make me look like I married a wife beater.
Beaten down - I slouch, even worse than when I was 15.

What does CFS feel like?
Think Christmas morning, 6 am, after staying up "playing Santa" until 3 am. That's on a good day. Then, it gets progressively worse, day after day, until "the crash." All functionality flies out the window until I am able to recuperate back to just feeling deathly tired. Mornings are the worst. Opening my eyes feels like peeling off band-aids. You know that feeling you have after a good night's rest, when the baby has slept through the night, and no one climbed into bed with you, and you wake up all by yourself without the help of the alarm, and you feel so good and refreshed? I haven't felt that in two years. Add to that regular headaches (minor to moderate) and a debilitating migraine every month or two. Also throw in some daily aches and pains and little annoying illnesses like sore throats, sniffles, a cold, and the flu.

What does CFS sound like?

"Um, we think it may be perimenopause... hormones... too much/little progesterone/estrogen/testosterone (what?!)... hypo/hyperthyroidism... anemia... nutritional deficiency... migraines (ok, yes, but only as a symptom, not as a diagnosis)... depression... inactive/overactive adrenal glands... MS... seizures (Ok, you know it's bad when you're disappointed it's not a brain tumor -- at least they could cut the stupid thing out and I could GET BETTER!!!)... blepharospasm... hypoglycemia... sleep apnea..."

What helps?
Yoga. Arbonne. Lowering expectations. Knowing my limits. Pacing myself. Priesthood blessings from my husband. Being aware of how much I'm still contributing.

What doesn't?
Trying to play catch up. Comparing myself to "superwomen," including who I used to be. Over-committing. Setting my expectations too high. Praying to make this go away. Trying to make everyone happy. Yo-yo dieting... BUT I STILL DO IT!