Christmas is upon us and here in Norway we start the celebration on Christmas Eve. Actually most of us start on December 23rd which is the day the last details are supposed to be put in place. I can’t manage three days in a row now so my Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve) was spent resting, taking a shower and making the Norwegian version of sauerkraut.
Our sauerkraut is not fermented like the german version is. It’s delicious tho and is perfect with the pork based feast we traditionally eat on Christmas Eve. To make it you need:
1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup white wine vinegar/apple cider vinegar (maybe a little more if it needs it)
2-3 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 l Stock (I use chicken)
Salt and pepper to taste
I cut the cabbage into wedges and then into strips in the food processor. Cut the apple into smallish cubes (it will dissolve when cooked). Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil, simmer for about two hours until it looks like this:
Heat before eating.
My mom and I have spent a couple of hours tonight with me in my new Christmas PJs. That is a new tradition that we started after I got worse again. She left me while I still had some energy left and has gone up to my uncle to spend the rest of the night there with some more of our family. She’s picking me up tomorrow to go to hers for christmas breakfast (traditionally it lasts all day here but I probably only have about two hours in me).
We’ve eaten our pork belly, pork meatballs and pork roast and had cloudberry cream for dessert. We’ve opened a few presents and toasted in non alcoholic beverages. I do miss having a little Aquavit to drink but that seems like an incredibly bad idea right now when just a little alcohol makes me very hung over and this particular drink has a lot.
I wish you all a very merry holiday and hope to come back with more in Romjula (day 1-5 of Christmas).
When I was better I managed to take rest periods on the days I worked from home, and I’d take a break or two to regroup when I was at the office, and when I came home. This meant I had absolutely no social life at all and I had no energy to do anything else than basic stuff. After I my big crash last year my baseline has been difficult to find. I still do way too much on the days I feel a bit better. I’m semi mobile and manage to feed myself and keep myself and my place in ok shape but I just want to do everything. I’ve finally accepted that I need help and my mom comes in and does the heavy stuff, but still…
Resting is very hard for me. My brain starts working on high gear almost immediately after laying down, and before you know it I have analyzed Jurassic World and worked myself into a little bit of a furious state. Yes she is their aunt, but for fucks sake she is running a multi million dollar business that requires her attention and is not a convenient babysitter service for sisters who are getting divorced without telling their kids first.
(How did this movie happen btw? You must have a pretty bad script and a really bad director to manage to get this calibre of actors to be thisbland. Omar Sy is in this mess for fucks sake, and Pratt should manage to be funny if you just let him do his thing. Bryce Dallas Howard has nothing to work with here, you can see the struggle if you look.)
Sometimes I design my dream house in what is supposed to be rest, and end up in trouble when I eventually have to look up if whatever it is I want is possible. I don’t want a large house just a fantastic one. I’m thinking I need a view like this and a house with large windows facing the right way.
I’m trying the guided meditations on youtube and I think I need to try to stick to a set schedule so I’m being a bit more proactive here with my rest. I’m so bored these days I’m doing the boom and bust thing and as a result spending even more time in bed and that is not good.
So this was all rambly and possibly a bit incoherent but hopefully you get the gist?
26. October – Not the fun kind of anniversary, the serious kind. It’s been a year since my brain haemorrhage. This year has been strange to say the least. It’s been marked by emotional ups and downs, and a turn for the worse in my M.E. It’s been a short year in many ways, time seems to shwosh by these days and I’m stuck here inside not getting to be a part of it much.
It’s also a month and a half more than eight years since i first got M.E. I have the same story as a lot of us, getting a viral infection and just not getting better again. Except I did for a while and then I overdid it massively, got new infections and crashed again to a much worse version than I ever had before. I’m on the severe side now, before the brain haemorrhage I was just tipping over moderate towards severe.
I know how M.E. works now, and I did a year ago so the absolute unexpectedness of something new happening was a massive shock to the system. I didn’t actually think it was all that bad although I realised I needed help and called my mom and then an ambulance. It took many months for me to realise that the reason they drove me in with the sirens on was not because of traffic like they told me, but because they thought I was having a stroke or bleeding out and needed me to get in fast enough to start treatment.
When it turned out it wasn’t a stroke I figured they would send me home the next day. Turns out they take unexpected events in the brain department pretty seriously in 40 year old women and they kept me in hospital for over a week. I came home the day before I turned 41.
I didn’t notice massive problems at first, and some of the ones I have now are difficult to separate from M.E. problems. No matter what, I was massively lucky in position and size of the bleed. My eyesight has deteriorated quite a bit, I had to get new glasses and I’m not certain it had stabilised when I got them. I think I should take another eye test soon. I have some problems with my fine motor skills. I don’t always manage to hit what I think I am and things like typing is sometimes difficult (I touch type and learned to do it without looking down). My memory is bad, but that’s a symptom of M.E. so I’m not sure that is a consequence of the bleed. I have some anxiety issues that developed from this, but I think mostly it’s natural to get scared from something so serious so I try not to beat myself up over it.
Now this sounds like I have a lot of complaints, but I’ll tell you something. I’m not unhappy. I wish I could do everything I want to of course and I have shitty days quite often, but there are positive things happening in my little life as well. I’ve taken the scary jump to talk to some new people every day and even made a few new friends I hope. I’m thankful for those people every single day, they make me feel like fighting and laughing and making jokes again.
I’ve started up a few hobbies again. I knit and draw and colour in. I’m trying to write a bit, I have some story ideas. It’s slow going, but I hope I’m getting somewhere. I’m reading again. I do this blogging thing which is also a bit scary since traffic is picking up. My soup series seems to be a hit, and I hope to do some more cooking stuff. I used to be a chef before my knees decided to give up on me and I’m trying to come up with more food that is quick, simple and tasty but also nutritious.
Anyway, I’m doing ok although I’m not well. I’m doing my best to entertain myself from the crushing boredom of being housebound and unable to be social in real life. I sometimes get scared it’s going to get worse, or that I’m getting another bleed and that isn’t much fun but somehow I manage to shake myself out of it every time. I try to stay positive – not always succeeding but as long as I do my best I think I can be proud of that. I’m pretty emotional this week, I didn’t think it would be this hard to reach the one year mark but I’m still here and still trucking on.
I’ve talked bit about habits before and how I use them to preserve energy. A few years ago I found a tumblr called Unfuck Your Habitat (UFyH) and that started changing how I approached housework. I used to be really messy, and would clean and tidy up in a panicked frenzy when someone was coming to visit. Naturally that meant I hated every second of it.
It’s a lot of work changing habits like these, it has taken me about a couple of years to get to the point I’m at now where I have a home that is pretty much always – if not super clean – at least tidy. It feels good to have gotten this far being as sick as I am.
So what sort of routines have I created for myself? Well the rules of UFyH are pretty simple; put it away not down, laundry has three steps – wash, dry, put it away dammit, everything has to have a place to live. Most importantly the system emphasises working within your limits. I’ve not documented the paring down of my excess stuff since most of that happened in the middle of the renovation of my living room and kitchen, but trust me I got rid of a lot of stuff I never used.
The routines I have now is as follows: Keep the kitchen and bathroom spotless by doing a little bit every time I’m in there. I wipe down counters and sinks and put stuff away pretty much on automatic now and I think that I might use about 10 minutes or so a day keeping things clean. I had to get a new dishwasher for my new kitchen and bought a narrow (45 cm) one because a full size one wouldn’t fit in the new layout. Best decision ever! It’s more than enough space for one person, and has a very handy short program that I often use when the machine isn’t full. Not filling things up to the brim makes it easier to empty again strangely enough 😏
About a decade ago I was an apprentice in a restaurant kitchen, and pretty much the first lesson I got was to keep your workstation clean. Don’t know why I stopped doing it ’cause it turns out it’s a lot easier to cook when I do it now. We separate out food leftovers in green bags Oslo (they turn it into bio fuel) so I keep the (smallish) bucket I use for it on the counter while I prepare food and have less steps to go to get rid of vegetable peel and eggshells etc. Packaging gets tossed in the sink first and sorted later. Most of it is plastic and gets recycled and some of that needs to be rinsed before going into its blue bag (blue and green bags gets separated out by a giant robot named Bagsy and goes to making new stuff. The leftover garbage gets burned and is used for heating homes, like mine). My bins are under the sink so its a short distance.
I’ve also gone back to preparing all the ingredients before I start cooking (mise en place) – it saves a lot of energy since you never have to hurry to finish chopping something up or finding something you need. And as always – there is no shame in using frozen and already prepared ingredients. If you have a food processer of some kind using it as often as you can does save your energy.
Laundry gets the same treatment. I thought I had to get a narrow top loaded machine for my tiny bathroom (a narrow frontloader will fit I found out later) and had no room for a tumble dryer. Hanging laundry can be really heavy work, but I tend to run smaller loads these days so I manage to get it done. When I can tho, I’m getting a combination washer/dryer so I can just skip the hanging up all together and go straight to putting it away dammit.
My mom comes in to change my sheets and mop the floors for me and do other heavy stuff, but I manage to stay on top of most of my chores even if it gets a bit dusty in here sometimes. I have though about getting a robot vacuum cleaner but my google skills has failed me a bit on finding one that will work well in a small apartment with a lot of walls and furniture in the way. If anyone has any suggestions I’ll be grateful.
I hope this didn’t come across as too splainy, I’ve re written this post a few times and still think it could be better. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask ( I might take a little time to answer tho, I haven’t slept that much lately and it feels like I might be able to now :))
It’s been a few days since the brilliant #MillionsMissing protest. The aftereffects for me after something as adrenaline inducing as this is being “wired but tired”. Real rest becomes even more difficult, my brain and body works on high gear for days and days.
It was a really good day though. I loved seeing our community coming together like that. I talked to a couple of people I’ve never spoken to before. I was seen by lots of people on twitter even from my couch. I saw the amazingly brave people who could be at the protests do amazing things. I got to tell my GP about our day of action so she is informed. I wrote something on facebook to my meatspace friends and put in a link to my blog for the first time. That was scary, I’ve separated the two on purpose for a while.
When the inevitable emotional crash came, I was watching the live stream from Oslo and the camera operator focused in on a pair of kids rubber boots. I was sobbing my head off and had to stop watching. At this point I was utterly exhausted, but I wanted to be part of more.
Responses has been trickling in for a few days. Some good, some bad, some a bit baffling. I think it’s a sign we’re winning the publicity battle, and I also think the desperation from some quarters shows we are on the right path. That the #MillionsMissing day 2 happened right after the PACE victory is a real boon to us. If you don’t know what I’m talking about please read Julie Rehmeyers piece on Stat.
I’m still running around in my red t-shirt although it needs a wash now. Very comfy and excellent to nap in – 10/10 would buy again
It’s the second #MillionsMissing day of Action – Take Two It’s Bigger and Better. I wish I could be present physically in front of the parliament building in Oslo today, but I’m not up to that and I have some other things happening today that I can’t move. Hopefully I can participate in the flesh next time, I should have a wheelchair by then.
Instead I’m wearing my red t-shirt at home, and at my GP’s office. There is a massive amount of things happening today – for me that is. They are changing my front door today (literally), so builders are running around everywhere making noise. I’m gonna do a little protest in front of them here at home.
If you are wondering what you can do to help please consider donating to Millions Missing Crowdrise campaign or The Open Medicine foundation. I would also like for you to sign the stopGet petitions if you can (One for brits, and one international). It’s to stop potentially harmful research treatment on children in the UK and is really important to me. It’s one thing to do this research on adults but since we already know it doesn’t work on us it’s diabolical to do the same thing to kids.
I expect I’ll be exhausted by the end of the day and anticipate a crash. I’m really proud of the M.E community and what has been achieved over the last few years. It feels like we have finally managed to gel into a coherent mass with common goals and I can’t thank the organisers of the different campaigns and organisations enough. I wish I could be more useful.
P.S. I can’t wait to have a new front door. The one I have seems to magnify any sound coming from the stairwell and is leaking air like you would not believe. A new fireproof door and new insulation around it should fix the worst of the sound problems. Not hearing the kids on the third floor running up and down the stairs screaming (not really, they are good kids but kids are heckin loud) would be great!
I haven’t been very active on my blog lately, my ME is currently kicking my cognitive metaphorical butt. I have about eight pieces of writing in the draft section but they all need pictures, fact checking and sourcing and so on, and I’m just not up for that at the moment.
What I have been doing lately though is reading a bit. I loved Chuck Wendig’s Invasive and recommend it to anyone (if insects isn’t too creepy for you). I hope they make a move of it, it was intense. I’ve been knitting socks while lying down and supporting my arms. I’ve been talking more to people on the internet, it’s scary but feels good. I’ve been overdoing it physically every time I feel a bit better because I’m so effing bored of resting and want to do something (not smart, I know).
I started watching Stranger Things. It takes a while because my memory is shit, and I have to go back every now and then and watch all over again. It’s also creepy in a way that gives me nightmares if I watch to late at night. I love it. I have a few movies to watch like Captain America: Civil War but I haven’t felt up to it lately (Cap’s my favourite Marvel hero).
I’m finally through the worst of the red tape! I just got home from meeting my disability case worker and now I’m getting the money they owe me! After six months without. There is a lot of emotions bubbling, and I’m fucking exhausted but I won!
You know, I’ve grown up in one of the most liberal, safe and frankly happy countries of the world. Norway like the other Scandinavian countries always come out on top. I was born in 1974 to parents who were part of the European 68 generation. They were liberal, equality minded and relatively educated. My mom always worked, and the idea that women were not equal to men was ridiculous in middle class Norway. Or so I thought.
Getting sick is a study in differences. As a patient I started experiencing being disbelieved, not listened to and being talked down to. I get a diagnosis that is a woman’s disease and increases the disbelief. I started researching and it soon became obvious that women and minority populations had massive difficulties being taken seriously when they get ill. There are patient stories from a variety of sources that paints the medical profession in a not very flattering light. There is research supporting this narrative, women’s pain is disbelieved, medical profession vastly underestimates the pain in people of colour compared to white people, it might take an average of seven years to get a rare diagnosis of which many are women’s diseases. The contrast to when my brain started haemorrhaging is staggering. I know people with ME who develop cancer say the same thing.
I became a feminist because of this. Not that I wasn’t one before I just didn’t know it. When I grew up feminists were the hard line second wave white feminists that I had nothing in common with. They just didn’t register. The “new” feminism I’ve discovered now though – the intersectional one – has been a journey to discover. I requires a lot of unlearning and spotlight on both the conscious and unconscious biases that we all have. I hope it has made me a better person.
The empathy as well came in leaps and bounds. I just didn’t understand before, and I think that is true for many of us. Pain was something that happened in short increments, not measured in months and years. Being sick was a week or two with a runny nose and a cough and then you were better again. It’s a learning experience which has been rewarding on a personal growth level but which i would like to be without all the same. I hate my stupid non functional body. If I believed in a creator I would have demanded a refund.
ETA: When I say womens diseases I don’t mean men or other folk wont get them, just that a majority is women. From what I hear that makes it even worse for men to get adequate treatment.
Today, August 8th is Understanding and Remembrance day for severe M.E. It’s very hard to think about, and write about but I feel I have to because I can. About 25% of ME sufferers are severe or very severe, and their suffering is unimaginable I think even for those of us who are just a few degrees better off.
A few years back I was sitting down with a colleague at work who was in tears. His partner had collapsed and was in the hospital deteriorating rapidly. “Did you know it could be this bad?” “Yes.” “Is there anything we can do?” “Not that I know of. She is probably to sick now.” They had decided to have a child, and the pregnancy went well but she deteriorated rapidly after the birth and probably pushed herself far over her limits trying to be a good mother. She has not seen her son since he was a little over a year old and is in a nursing home indefinitely. “I wish she had cancer, we would know something then…” Her son started school last fall.
Years after that conversation, I’m sicker than I’ve ever been. I’m not quite severe. I can take care of myself and live on my own still I am housebound and increasingly in bed. I think about her all the time. It scares all of us that don’t fall into that category, it can happen to us if we are not careful but that’s not the important think to take away from this. The important part is the people living and dying in horrible pain and suffering. The people who get abandoned by medical practitioners, the people who get sectioned because misinformation makes the medical profession believe they are mentally ill when they are not. The research that does not get funded because of this is vast.
Please consider supporting us if you can. Here are a few of our organisations that are working hard to rectify all the years of neglect this illness has suffered: