An anniversary of sorts

NOR Høst

Høst – Bendik Riis, 1946 – ©Riis, Bendik/BONO – Owner/photo: Nasjonalmuseet

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.

Aftermath – a hangover of the M.E variety

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.

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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

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#MillionsMissing – part 2

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.

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#MillionsMissing

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.

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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!

 

Severe M.E day

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:

#MEAction

Open medicine foundation

25% ME group

Phoenix Rising

Please let me know if I should add some more.

Things that make my life a little easier

Over the last year and a half I’ve had to adapt to a whole new way of living. A lot of it is spent resting and even though my couch is great, my bed is better. I’ve found a few things that make being in bed a lot a little better.

  1. Hotel pillows:  Giant soft pillows that makes sitting up and lying down in bed comfortable. I have two of them stacked up under my normal pillow and they make things much easier.
  2. A tray for coffee cups, water glasses, phones and whatnot. I have several, but the plastic trays from IKEA functions beautifully. Get one with a bit of edge in case of spilling things.
  3. A bed table/laptop table. I use mine all the time, but I’ll probably get a new one that I can tilt up for even more comfort.
  4. Mason jar drinking glass with lid. I have spilled a lot of water on myself while in bed. The drinking glasses with a lid is brilliant. They are a bit heavy, but being glass they keep me water cool much longer than a plastic glass would. It’s also easier to drink enough when drinking from a straw for some reason.

Other things that keeps my life a little better:

  • My Sodastream machine. It’s sometimes difficult to drink enough. Carbonated water is easier to swallow for some reason. I also gave my mom one a few years ago for Christmas, and it still functions beautifully even though that was the cheapest version.
  • Cleaning as I go. My kitchen is spotless. Always. I keep it that way because I’ve discovered that it takes a lot less time and effort to clean as I go than say once a day. I probably use about a minute every time I’m in there to make sure everything is in order. I have a small kitchen and it is just me here so this might not be something everyone can do.
  • Getting groceries delivered. This is a new discovery, but it’s so great. I think I can manage to get deliveries about once a month if I plan it well enough.
  • Soft clothes.