Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Have you ever woken up and felt so tired you just couldn't imagine getting out of bed, let alone facing the day, maybe you have had the flu, maybe jet lag, maybe that awful fatigue after surgery. Well, let me tell you a little story about being tired.
With my eldest happily ensconced in Elementary school, my 3 year old very content in Preschool and my one year old safe at home with a girlfriend I hired to Babysit, I took the plunge and enrolled in a liberal arts college and declared a major in Interior Design. I was nervously excited! Having left school at barely 16 and having no formal art training I was trepidacious about going to college with people who had actually graduated High School. I was passionate about most aspects of Architecture, Design and Art, so I chose Interior Design because it combined my talents for decorating and sewing and my passions all together.
I started at 3 quarter time and took as many weekend and evening classes as I could so I was home most of the time during the day to be a "MOM" which was my "REAL" job. Everything went really well, I was a 4 point student (Yay Me!). That was so validating to me because no matter how hard I tried in grade school I never got good grades. I always had the sense that I was not good enough and plenty of people in my life re-enforced that too!
I really felt for the first time in my life I had come into my own. I had a loving Hubby, 3 beautiful, smart, adorable and happy children and a home we all loved; And I was embarking on a college degree that would lead to a fulfilling career once all the kids were in full time education. This was what I had worked so very hard to achieve thru all my earlier struggles. I was really rather pleased, albeit cautiously, with myself and quietly confident that nobody could take this away from me.
I was fit and healthy, I ran half marathon distances, I worked out at least 4 times a week weight training and swimming or step aerobics; I made sure the family and I eat healthily. This was the best time of my life.
So, imagine my surprise when I started getting ocular migraines and blurry vision to the point that it became debilitating. I tried to push thru it and continue on my very, very busy schedule but some days it was impossible. I thought, well I knew, I was over doing it; But you know when you get a headache even migraines, although I had never had a migraine before, that eventually they will go away and even if you feel ravaged afterwards you will be able to sleep it off, but unfortunately that didn't happen. I had my blood work checked for the obvious, thyroid panel, blood sugar, hormones etc but none of the usual suspects showed as the cause. In Fact, according to my blood work there wasn't anything wrong with me. I dragged on for a month or so, I continued driving to school at night with blurry double vision after a day of struggling thru taking care of the kids but I wanted to continue going to school it meant so much to me, I didn't want to fall behind and I knew that could happen really quickly. I shouldn't have been driving I could barely concentrate on anything and staying awake was a challenge.
But then the nightmare happened; so suddenly it came from left field. I awoke one morning and was feeling really weird, I just couldn't get out of bed, I was so tired, unusually tired, I had slept well, I always slept well, so why was I so overwhelmingly tired? I just wanted to curl up and go back to sleep forever. Of course I did get out of bed but with a struggle and pushed myself to have a shower. You know when you are feeling tired a shower always seems to help wake you up right, but not this time. I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair and I had to keep leaning against the wall for support I was too weak to stand. I stumbled out of the shower in a daze and was sobbing uncontrollably. I opened the door, next to the bathroom, that led to the garage, my Hubby was outside playing ball with the boys, as I leaned on the door frame for support, I could hear the joyous giggles from the boys and I could see one running away, with the ball, screaming in delight at being chased by his Daddy. The tears were streaming down my face and at that moment I knew deep in my core that life would never be the same again. I told my Hubby I needed to go back to bed, I just didn't have the energy to stand. I knew the feeling! I had had a really bad case of Mono a few years before, but you can't get that twice that intensely, can you?! So what was happening?!?!
I had to quit school! I could barely get out of bed to care for the kids let alone leave the house. It seemed that my dream was being replaced by a nightmare and I had no clue when it would end and it didn't even have a name. After many, many Doctors and Specialists visits and years of misdiagnoses living with this frustratingly debilitating illness it finally materialises as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And so, for the past 18 years I have lived with C.F.S. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and for the past 16 years with Fibromyalgia.
You all know how hard it is to look after young kids on a regular basis if you are healthy so imagine what it is like when you are not able to get out of bed and your Hubby is away on a biz trip and there is literally no one to help! My friends either worked full time or dropped away because they didn't want to "Catch" it (It is a myth that either C.F.S or Fibromyalgia are contagious) All my family were 6000 miles away in England. So there was nothing I could do but literally crawl out of bed and try to do what I could to change diapers, feed little people, get the basics done as much as possible and lie on the floor all day hoping that the next day would not be as bad! Of course it was and the next and the next and the next!!!
Over the years I had to become very organised and very careful with my time and energy, it is no fun living with two debilitating illnesses that can knock you to the floor in a heart beat and leave you down for days, weeks or months at a time. I guess I count my self fortunate that this goes in relapse and remission but don't think for a second that a remission gives me the opportunity to have a normal life at all. It just means I have about a quarter of the energy of a normal 120 year old woman to get what I need to do done instead of lying on the sofa all day in a relapse.
Relapse or remission I am permanently exhausted, in chronic pain and have a constant headache. I can only describe it as the worst Mono fatigue you can imagine along with the extreme pain after major surgery, thankfully I am not a wimp but enduring this for so long makes even the strongest vulnerable. There are no cures for these illnesses.
It is debilitating, exhausting, painful, challenging, depressing but mostly downright overwhelmingly frustrating. Because I am constantly in the pattern of relapse and remission I feel like I am constantly mourning a life that could have been.
I feel trapped in a body that doesn’t work well for me and is constantly letting me down and is, at best, unpredictable but it is the only one I get so I have to make the most of it. :)
I try every day to be positive and realistic but the older I get the harder it is to do that. Yet, everyday, I am truly grateful that at least I have another day to try again. So, I think, when life throws you a curved ball, make lemonade. :)
© Teresa Chipperfield 2010
"Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,"
"The Rainy Day"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Happy Painting/Creating! :) T.