Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Turning point

I haven't written on this blog for quite a while now. This is because it was pointed out to me that some of what I had written was inappropriate and hurtful. I have since deleted the particular posts (although if I have missed any, then sorry) and have said to myself that should I return to the blog that it would take a turn back to the purpose it was intended for - to educate and inform people what it is like to have CFS/ME - and not to be the place I turned to let out my feelings when at my worst. Some people have suggested I step away from the blog, but others have suggested I keep writing and I have thought about this a lot. I have decided to return, but to set a rule to myself that I will never write when I know I'm at my most poorly, and let out any feelings constructively way before they get to the point of destruction.

And so, to start afresh slightly today's post is going to be on things that have helped me with my symptoms and their consequences. I take so many supplements and medications that it is probably a bit difficult to say exactly what makes the most difference, but put together they seem to work. Working out which is most effective scientifically is not possible right now as it may require removing an important medication from my collection and may send me back into a relapse, which I can't afford right now!

And so firstly, here are some supplements that I take:
  • vitamin D - this was suggested by a rheumatologist I saw last summer who found that I had low vitamin D levels in a blood test. Not necessarily related to CFS/ME but it has been linked to muscle function so maybe it has some importance.
  • l-carnitine - this supplement was recommended to me as one that may or may not help. I'm not entirely sure what it does, but I think it may again have a link to muscles.
  • co-enzyme Q10 - this supplement was recommended to me by a CFS/ME consultant on the NHS but I don't think it has any clinical backing. It seems to have had some effects though! Possibly linked to the production of energy in cells?
  • avoiding dairy food - not technically a supplement, more of a subtraction, but it's to do with diet so it's going here. I haven't eaten dairy since I first got ill almost 5 years ago. It made such a difference! I am mildly lactose intolerant anyway and somehow the CFS/ME exaggerated it so this was definitely a good move.
Secondly, here are the medications I take. I know some people are reluctant to take drugs but I have really found these helpful:
  • hydroxyzine - (brand name Atarax). This is an antihistamine but I take it because it has a side effect of drowsiness, with the aim of it helping me to sleep. It doesn't make me drowsy but it does make me feel more relaxed and has made so much difference to my sleeping patterns.
  • vitamin b12 - I have put this here because I have it administered by injection by a nurse instead of taking tablets. These have been taken weekly so far but I think that is due to go down to fortnightly. I believe these have helped a lot too, but having no original b12 deficiency, their prescription was a little unorthodox.
And lastly, behavioural things I do to look after myself:
  • focus on keeping calm - any kind of stress or excitement can increase symptoms and so I focus throughout life on keeping calm and in control. Not easy of course but recognition of these emotions in itself makes a difference.
  • limited exercise - I hate this one, I would love to go running but it has made such a difference to limit my exercise to what my body can do without complaining.
  • proper rest breaks - again, I don't like this either because at 20 I want to be out there doing things but consciously stopping for breaks gets me through the day.
  • making all activity more energy efficient - this involves some conscious thought and self awareness, and so maybe talking it over with a friend or family member may be helpful. What can I do to make that activity less effortful? (e.g. sitting down while cooking).
I think many people with CFS/ME have their own concoction of pills and supplements but I thought that this may give people some idea of things they can try if they are new to this. Unfortunately a lot of these cost money (either shop bought or prescription charge) but I think you can get help with prescription charges if necessary.

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