Foggy is a soft toy dog on an adventurous quest to raise funds and awareness for The ME Association. His best friend Patch’s favourite human has M.E.
His blog aims to show the human perspective of M.E and to raise awareness of the invisible debilitating illness.
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Sunday, 24 May 2015
Rachel's Experience of M.E.
Hello! Foggy asked for guest bloggers to write blog posts for him; this is a guest blog post from Rachel, a mild M.E. sufferer. Hi,
Glandular fever swept through our sixth form college like
wildfire; which isn’t that abnormal amongst a group of 17-year-olds I guess.
Except I never seemed to get better. I was halfway through the second year of my A Levels
combined with Dance Foundation when suddenly I was exhausted all the time, with
a permanent sore throat, swollen glands that never seemed to go down,
migraines and aches and pains all over. Months and months of medical tests followed, all of which
proved inconclusive. In May 1992, I received a diagnosis nobody wants to get,
especially someone just weeks away from their exams. I had M.E.
In the early 90s M.E. was a relative unknown. It was known,
here in the UK, as Yuppie flu because the only people who had been reported as
getting it were burned out city workers.
What did I have in common with them?
There were no support groups, very little research and nothing anybody
could tell me.
I somehow managed to make it through my final exams but all
I can really remember about that period is being bone-achingly tired and having
to take so many anti-inflammatories that I’ve had stomach issues ever since.
Instead of going to university that Autumn I was fortunate
enough to get the opportunity to go and stay with my aunt in Tasmania,
Australia. The sunshine and slower paced lifestyle did this body good and
within a few months I was starting to feel better, needed fewer painkillers and
had put on some of the weight I’d lost. Naively I believed I’d beaten this
thing. I didn’t know then what I know now; that M.E comes and goes
in waves. That, for me at least, it is triggered by stress and overwork.
I returned to England to go to university. Half way through
my degree those familiar symptoms came back. Just in time for my final exams, the M.E. returned with a vengeance. You see what I mean about it being triggered
by stress? After a year of recuperating I moved to London to start my
first “proper” job. You probably won’t be surprised to learn I was back living
with my parents and all my symptoms flared up again within 18 months. That’s when I realised I had to stop this “boom or bust”
road to recovery, and it’s when I started doing a bit of research. Over the next few years I tried a lot of different things
from Acupuncture to Hypnotherapy, from C.B.T. to Reiki and I got a few new
diagnoses, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, I.B.S. and Congenital Scoliosis. I tried
various remedies from the kind you get on prescription to homeopathic and
herbal. But the thing that seemed to work for me was Yoga.
You see, I always loved to move my body. From early ballet
classes to my Dance Foundation I was never happy sitting still. The problem was
since my M.E. diagnosis I found a lot of exercise just completely wore me out. But Yoga was different. I’m not talking about the sort of Yoga that is all over
social media these days, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Cardio Yoga. No, this was
gentle, it involved a lot of lying on the floor, gentle stretching and deep
Some days all I could manage was to lie on the floor, other
days I could do a bit more. Over time, with patience, practice, and a lot
of guided relaxations, I was able to practice gentle sequences. My energy
levels improved, I was slowly able to do some other gentle exercise too
(walking, light weight training). After a couple of years I was back at work
full time. And with regular Yoga practice I could manage my energy better. I
didn’t have those “boom and busts” anymore. Don’t get me wrong though, I still had bad days. I still do.
These days I own a little Yoga studio in Cambridge. I teach
all kinds of people but I run some classes that are dedicated to people with
M.E., Fibromyalgia and similar chronic conditions. Not only is this a chance for
them to do a little movement and a lot of relaxation that is suitable for them,
but it also gives them a chance to meet other people with M.E., something I never got
to do. We keep it very positive in class and try not to moan too much about our
symptoms. Everyone keeps coming back so it seems to be helping! Of course Yoga isn’t necessarily suitable for everyone with
M.E. and it might not help you in the same way it helped me. My point in sharing
all of this with you is to never, ever, give up hope. You never know what is round the
corner. I still have bad days, as I said, but my once moderate M.E. is now mild,
even on a bad day. I’ve come a long way baby.
Rachel is a Yoga and Pilates teacher, massage therapist and
studio owner in Cambridge UK. Check out her website for more info about M.E. and Fibromyalgia http://massage-movement.co.uk
or follow along on Instagram and Twitter @rachel_fusion