Its Sunday evening and I’m feeling pretty tired…but it’s a good tired. Today my wife and I set off for a walk at 1pm and got home at 4pm. We did about 2.5 hours walking, mostly on the flat and in the beautiful surroundings of Dun Laoghaire in Dublin. The temperature was a very nice 16 degrees and that’s pretty good for November 1st.
I had to do a quick check on my chronology of events to confirm that this time three years ago I had handed in my notice at work and would finish up on the 30th of November. I was in a bad place with my health. No one could tell me if I would ever be fit to work again or indeed if I would ever be fit to do any of the things we take for granted. I was suffering from muscle pain all over my body, not sleeping, had severe headaches and was exhausted almost all of the time.
If you have been following my story on this blog you will know that things have improved greatly since that time. My life is very different today and although I still suffer from many of those same symptoms, I am in a much better place.
So for an update; I still take a steroid but am currently trying to manage on one every two days. I now get about 5 hours sleep at night and I also try and rest / meditate for 90 mins each afternoon. I usually wake up in the mornings feeling stiff and sore and with a headache but these are quickly sorted with an asprin or panadol and a hot shower. I still find it very hard to read as my eyes get tired quickly and if I continue too long, I get a bad headache / pain. In the same way, bright lights or flashing images on the TV bring on the same result.
That all sounds bad and it can be if I don’t manage my condition; everything in moderation and within my obvious limits.
On the positive side I have continued my programme of training with my personal trainer and I have now passed the eighty session mark. Yes that’s right, 80. I started, reluctantly, back on March 9th 2015 and have averaged just over two per week since then. The training consists of one hour sessions starting with five minutes on the bike followed by a tough but graded and varied programme of weight training. Before I started, what little muscle I ever had, was all but gone. I did not have the strength, energy or inclination to do any type of strenuous activity. In fact I was doing very little of anything!
How things have changed! Through the support and guidance of my personal trainer (Paddy), I have built up muscle all over my body and continue to improve every week. (I am currently “dead lifting” up to eighty kilos). I have also changed my diet to include more nutritious food and I eat more regularly than I did. But its not just about the muscles, its more about what I can now do outside of training. My body is now in the best shape it ever was and as a result my mind is in a better place too. I have gone from a point where I believed I wasn’t able (and I wasn’t) to where I am able and I believe I am.
So what difference has all this training made to my life in the real world? I now play golf once a week with some great friends. At first I needed a buggy but now I walk the 18 holes like everyone else. I am hitting the ball further off the tee than I ever did, for three reasons; I am stronger, more flexible and more determined than I ever was. I am also enjoying every minute on the golf course, regardless of the quality of golf.
My overall energy levels have improved as a result of the training and the extra hours sleep I now get each night. Yes, I am exhausted by the time I get home and always ensure I have restful day after the golf; that’s a key part of managing my condition.
I started to write again and recently had a short story listed in a prestigious Irish literary competition. I also have an idea for a novel and hope to put pen to paper this side of Christmas. My social life has also improved and eating out with friends (in a small group) is getting more frequent. This had proved to be very difficult as the energy tank would empty after a night of conversation in good company.
So overall things are pretty good. I still live with CFS / ME but life today is so much better than it has been for the last 4 years.
I know there has been a lot of debate recently on the subject of Graded Exercise Therapy and to be honest I haven’t read much about it or become involved in the debate. I started my training programme because my son encouraged me. I was a reluctant participant. I met a trainer who did not know much about CFS /ME and maybe that was just as well. He did know the value of proper training and nutrition and was sympathetic to my condition. We have both been on a learning curve, sharing information and expertise. It has really worked for me. It has changed my life.