If you have been following my blog then you will know that I am going through some tough battles at the moment. I am in the process of finding out if I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (twelve month waiting list for the local fatigue clinic – way to go NHS waiting times, only another possible nine months to wait). After having ruled out the majority of potential illnesses and disorders that a GP can exclude I am now going through the wonderful process of trying to find some way of managing the pain and fatigue so that I can function like a “normal” human.
Last time I wrote about My life, my journey… I was waiting to see my doctor again as I had been experiencing the worst flare I have ever had. The outcome was an increase of Gabapentin to 600mg per day and to go back on the Amitriptyline with a dose of 20mg per day (to help me stay asleep at night). Three weeks on and I am noticing a difference, I certainly hadn’t been feeling as tired as before, for the most part and the pain is more manageable than previously. However I am finding that most days I am maxing out on Paracetamol still (and the occasional Ibuprofen).
I forgot to keep up with the mild muscle & relaxation exercise techniques that I was going to try out, mainly due to the fact that my memory is shot to pieces and my brain seems more fuddled than I am used to. That is not to say I am not exercising though. Over the past three weeks, I have managed to continue two regular garden stints (i.e watering, planting, pruning) a day and I have taken up crochet too (to keep me off Facebook and give me something constructive to do while recovering).
Although I am doing my best to keep myself active, I have noticed a decline in my social interactions. I haven’t been out very much and I haven’t kept up with my favourite hobbies. The only socialising I have been doing is when people come over here to visit or via social networks and even that has been tough on the old grey cells. Which leads me to believe that the latest flare has left me feeling very fragile on an emotional level. I have been hiding away almost like a hermit trying to protect myself from the outside world and all its influences. But what help is that to me really? All it has done has begun to cause all the negative thought patterns to creep back into my mind. Such as feeling guilt about not keeping the home clean and tidy and not seeing friends, anxiety and panic about how to keep the bills paid, feelings of uselessness or failure that I am not doing right by my children. All the emotions that if not dealt with can push me the over the edge into the dark abyss of depression. Thankfully my close family are very understanding and see my internal battles on an daily basis and allow me / encourage me to speak out. This is what really helps to keep the depression at bay.
Saying that though, there has been a slight “plus” side to having rested so much over the past month. With the fatigue levels almost at “my normal” and the pain virtually manageable I have been able to concentrate more on my diet, that is the diet where I find foods that don’t make me feel unwell and discover the foods that will eventually make me thrive and put on a little more weight again. I have already been on a gluten free diet for 10 months but have recently been asked by the GP to try the FODMAP diet. I don’t know much about it other than it is meant to be a good one for IBS sufferers. Basically there are many good foods out there that aggravate the intestines & bowels. Anyway, what I have had to do is eliminate certain foods containing fructose, lactose and other words I cannot remember or spell. When I first read through the list of foods containing FODMAPs I was able to eliminate a very large proprtion of them as they were foods that I don’t have anyway, which pretty much left just lactose products and a few of my favourite fruits. So this month I have cut out milk and other dairy products… And what a change I have noticed. On the occasions where it has been pretty much unavoidable but to have milk in a hot drink, guess what? It has aggravated the IBS symptoms. Trouble is I now have to read every set of ingredients on everything I plan to eat which makes choosing some foods a mammoth task.