“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Lucid Day

It all started while I was reading a book on marketing and advertising. I shared a few quotes with my husband, and then I had a brilliant idea for an ad phrase we could use. Simple, straightforward, to the point. His eyebrow raised a little and he said, "Wow, that was a really lucid thought."

It didn't stop there. I went to church and in Sunday School class, I was asked to be the scribe for an activity we were doing. As people tossed around suggestions, I wrote them down. I then presented our ideas to the class. I kind of reworked the suggestions in such a way that revealed the point behind them. When I sat down, my husband leaned over to me and said, "Wow, that was really good. You did a remarkable job."

I like to participate in class discussions, because I know how much better the lessons are when people share their thoughts. It's easier on the teacher. So, during class, I looked for times I could make comments, and I shared a few of my thoughts.

Later in the day, at home, I was giving the lesson for Family Home Evening. Again, I was able to stay focused on what I was trying to teach, and we had a rather sophisticated gospel discussion as a family -- amazing with six kids ranging from six to 17 with limited attention spans. My husband said, "Kids, I just wanted to point out what a lucid day your Mom is having today! She has really been coming up with some good ideas."

Finally, we went to bed and had an hour's worth of discussion together. We talked about the business, the church lessons, our kids. My husband said, "Wow, look at us, we're having a discussion!"

Ah, a lucid day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bad Medicine

I ran out of melatonin a couple of days ago, so I decided to try traditional sleep medicine instead. I chose some generic brand liquid gels. Well, it didn't help me get to sleep at all; my mind was racing with business stuff, and it took awhile to finally fall asleep.

I think I slept soundly, pretty much, but oh my gosh -- waking up was brutal!!! I couldn't do it! I try to get 8-10 hours of good sleep a night; more than that, and I never quite shake off the sleepiness. I finally dragged myself out of bed at 10:00 am, after a good 12 hours of sleep. I could barely make my bed. I know I did yoga, but I don't think I finished it all. I can't remember doing the final back stretches and corpse pose. Did I stop in the middle? Did I get distracted? I just don't know.

Bad medicine! Bad! You are heretofore banished from my home. I'm going shopping for more melatonin today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Little Thank You

Oft times, when you have CFS, the littlest accomplishments take the biggest efforts to achieve. Inside, you're cheering yourself and feeling proud. Outside, you're a little embarrassed to be making such a big deal out of such a little thing.

Once in awhile, someone dear to you notices your accomplishments and the effort that went into them. Today is my "recuperation" day. I've been overdoing it all week, so I was going to stay in, maybe do a little laundry, and work and play on the computer. Well, Rom had loaded the empty 5-gallon water bottles in the truck and was hoping I would make the trip out to fill them up. I dashed his hopes and told him I wasn't up to it today.

However, when I went to pick the boys up from school, I was feeling pretty good. I took the boys with me and we filled up the water bottles. We then went to surprise Rom at work. We stayed for a little while, and Rom got a kick out of seeing us.

When I returned home, there was a message for me from Rom on the answering machine. He said he was so happy to see us today; it really lifted his spirits and broke up a boring day. Then, he thanked me very sweetly for filling the water bottles, knowing I wasn't feeling well today. I loved that he noticed it was an accomplishment for me. I felt loved, appreciated, and supported. I am glad I married such a good man!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chronicling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Someone once said that calling this illness (disease? condition? ailment?) chronic fatigue is like calling Parkinson's "chronic shakiness syndrome." Really, the name is embarrassing. People just don't get it. When they hear that moniker, they think, "Ok, well then just go take a nap!" Ah, if it were only that easy!

So, I'm here to chronicle life with chronic fatigue.

What is CFS?
CFS is the elephant graveyard for all diseases that the doctor can't quite put his finger on -- the ethereal, undiagnosable, strange diseases that in the past were labeled non-existent. So, now instead of "You're crazy," we have CFS.

What does CFS look like?
Fat - I weigh more than I did after my 6th child.
Flabby - I've lost muscle. Like Schwarzenegger without a shirt. (Have you seen him lately?)
Old - I've aged 10 years in the last two.
Lazy - My house is a disaster.
Flighty - I am so forgetful! I even get disoriented driving to the store sometimes.
Flaky - Ok, sometimes I just can't do that, even if I promised or I really, really should.
Turret's - When people see my signature twitching, they tense up, expecting me to start swearing a blue streak.
Beaten up - The permanent dark circles under my eyes make me look like I married a wife beater.
Beaten down - I slouch, even worse than when I was 15.

What does CFS feel like?
Think Christmas morning, 6 am, after staying up "playing Santa" until 3 am. That's on a good day. Then, it gets progressively worse, day after day, until "the crash." All functionality flies out the window until I am able to recuperate back to just feeling deathly tired. Mornings are the worst. Opening my eyes feels like peeling off band-aids. You know that feeling you have after a good night's rest, when the baby has slept through the night, and no one climbed into bed with you, and you wake up all by yourself without the help of the alarm, and you feel so good and refreshed? I haven't felt that in two years. Add to that regular headaches (minor to moderate) and a debilitating migraine every month or two. Also throw in some daily aches and pains and little annoying illnesses like sore throats, sniffles, a cold, and the flu.

What does CFS sound like?

"Um, we think it may be perimenopause... hormones... too much/little progesterone/estrogen/testosterone (what?!)... hypo/hyperthyroidism... anemia... nutritional deficiency... migraines (ok, yes, but only as a symptom, not as a diagnosis)... depression... inactive/overactive adrenal glands... MS... seizures (Ok, you know it's bad when you're disappointed it's not a brain tumor -- at least they could cut the stupid thing out and I could GET BETTER!!!)... blepharospasm... hypoglycemia... sleep apnea..."

What helps?
Yoga. Arbonne. Lowering expectations. Knowing my limits. Pacing myself. Priesthood blessings from my husband. Being aware of how much I'm still contributing.

What doesn't?
Trying to play catch up. Comparing myself to "superwomen," including who I used to be. Over-committing. Setting my expectations too high. Praying to make this go away. Trying to make everyone happy. Yo-yo dieting... BUT I STILL DO IT!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chronic Fatigue vs. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two very separate things. Most of us have experienced fatigue as a symptom of illnesses such as the flu, pneumonia, or a severe cold. It can also sneak up on us through extreme stress, poor nutrition, or lack of sleep (remember those "just had a baby" days?).

Chronic fatigue is that kind of unrelenting fatigue that persists for more than six months. It is a symptom of other diseases such as infections, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, depression, fibromyalgia, anemia, or sleep apnea. If you cure the disease, the fatigue goes away. If the disease is chronic, then chronic fatigue can be treated but not cured.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an actual disease recognized by the Center for Disease Control. It is a neurological and autoimmune disease. The main characteristic of CFS is severe, disabling physical and mental fatigue that gets worse with even minimal exertion. In addition to fatigue, people with CFS also exhibit at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Post-exertional malaise (extreme, prolonged exhaustion and sickness following physical or mental activity)
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain without swelling or redness
  • Headaches of a new type or severity
  • Sore throat that's frequent or recurring
  • Tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes
In addition to these diagnostic criteria, people with CFS have up to 50 other recognizable symptoms, including dizziness, numbness, allergies, anxiety, blackouts (remember that car ride that started this all?) and irregular heartbeat.

CFS for me is typically a cycle where I feel pretty good for awhile, then I start to deteriorate and end with a crash that can last days or even weeks. I go into survival mode during the crash period, which apparently lets me recuperate and I gradually get back to feeling better. I'm in the process of trying to figure out what triggers my crashes so I can avoid them more often.

I'm grateful for a loving and forgiving family that steps up and helps out when I'm in the middle of a crash. I know this disease has hurt them tremendously, but I swear I'm doing all I can to make things better!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reality Check!

The kids went back to school last week, and I had the whole house just to myself for six hours every day for the first time in 17 years. Pretty amazing! So, I decided that I could probably tackle some projects. I decided my attention would first go to my own bedroom. I wanted to create a relaxing, calm environment for me to escape to and unwind.

I did it, and I was pretty excited about it! I blogged about it on my other blog, a little tongue-in-cheek (I mean, c'mon, people clean their rooms every day!), but I was celebrating my accomplishment.

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So, I guess it was time for a reality check. My husband came home after work last night with our store's delivery guy. We own a mattress outlet store, and he was here to swap out our mattress. As I sat there on the couch in the living room, watching TV surrounded by my messy home, I was so humiliated! The only thing that could have been worse is if I had been eating bonbons. I realized that although I cleaned my bedroom, every other room in my home is a disaster. Suddenly, my great accomplishment paled and seemed so trivial.

Time and again, I try to come to grips with this delightful disease. I try to be gentle to myself; I try not to get discouraged. But time and again, all I can see are the many failures piling up around me making my successes look small. Chronic fatigue syndrome means being tired -- tired every day, but also tired of failing, tired of not being able to do the smallest tasks, tired of not being able to enjoy the smallest pleasures, tired of looking bad, tired of feeling bad, tired of disappointing people.

But, tomorrow, I'm starting a new project.