A Day With ME/CFS Part 2
If you are just joining, start with Part 1 of what it’s like to live with ME/CFS.
You stand up from the table to put your Bible away (if you remember to put it away, that is), but you stand slowly. No dizziness right now. That’s good. Thankfully, this symptom is nothing new. You’ve dealt with it your whole life – it’s just a little worse now.
What you hate is when a wave of dizziness hits for no reason while you’re on the stairs.
The Other Things
You’ve started talking about your ME journey a little bit because you realize so many people who have it are not as fortunate as you. Some are housebound. Others are bedridden.
Driving to work, you see a homeless person asleep in a bundle of blankets under a bridge and wonder if he suffers with ME/CFS.
Still, you hesitate to talk much because of the stigma. So many people think it’s all in your head. You were once one of them.
But time after time, you pushed through and pushed through only to end up with bronchitis or meningitis or some other major issue as your body simply couldn’t muster the energy to both push through the fatigue and produce an appropriate immune response.
Some days you drive to work but have to take a 20-minute nap in the car before going in. Or you have to pull over and take a 20-minute nap so you don’t fall asleep at the wheel.
You realize you are nearing a crash. Thankfully, it’s Thursday and the weekend is coming, although you’d really like to do something with your weekend other than recover. Like clean. Or even something fun.
The body aches are annoying. Your thinking is sluggish and you feel generally unwell – like the beginnings of a bad cold or a mild flu.
But you’re thankful it’s not a bad day.
Even on a not-so-bad day, it feels like the air is made of molasses. During class, you slur a few words and tell your students to get out their cameras. You meant to say laptops. Ah, aphasia! So a migraine plans to join the party. At least there’s medicine for that.
Your students help you sort your words out. Thankfully, they are sweet girls and you already told them not to worry if this happens. More than likely, it’s a migraine prodrome and not a stroke. You rely on the weird manic energy you’ve been able to concoct in public for the last several years to get through classes. And you don’t sit still for long so you don’t fall asleep.
Your gut is a mess, but you decide not to get into that. It’s just unpleasant to talk about.
On the drive home, your body hurts worse and you look forward to bed. Now that you’ve learned to balance things a little better, gotten strict with your sleep schedule, and accepted that you can’t exercise like you used to, bed is no longer the only thing you look forward to.
The heartrate alarm on your watch goes off because the organ decided to jump up over 100 beats a minute even though you’re just driving. So weird. You shrug.
Before bed, you thank God for His mercy. You realize that ME/CFS has made you rely more and more on Him, and so it’s good. It’s also given you compassion for others, because not everyone who looks healthy, is.
Even so, you have days of sadness. You miss being able to get up super-early, working out, and being productive. It’s hard to feel like crud most of the time. You don’t really get excited about much these days except Eternity and God. You keenly feel the truth that “the outer self is wasting away but the inner self is being renewed day by day.”
You try to decide if your achiness is enough to warrant taking an OTC medicine or if you can sleep reasonably without it. It’s best not to since you need to save things like that for migraines, so you skip it.
You skipped dinner because of the gut thing. That’s OK. There are people all over the world who skip dinner because they don’t have any. You thank God that you have the option and pray for those who don’t.
As you turn out the lights, your heart does a gymnastics routine. It feels like a guy with a peg leg trying to run through a yard riddled with mole hills – but in your chest.
You pray – in part to keep your mind focused on the Lord and in part to suppress your body’s adrenaline response to the weird heart stuff. As you do, you feel comforted that you have the Lord. He is with you.
You pray for people who don’t know Him and have the peace of trusting in His plans. You imagine ME/CFS without God. If you didn’t trust Him, didn’t trust His purposes for allowing this in your life, there would be no point in going on. Without the certainty of His goodness, you would have given up long ago.
You thank Him for being a God who is not a stranger to suffering, and you surrender to His plan.
You can rest in knowing He is good, even when life is not.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4