Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Orthostatic Intolerance

After a few good rain storms we're having perfect weather right now - if I could freeze Malta's climate at any one point in the year, this would be it. Today we have blue skies, a few puffy white clouds drifting here and there, 25 C, around 70% humidity (lower would be ok too), and a light east northeast breeze. I'm enjoying the weather from my patio and the couch, but frustrated because I had really hoped that with the cooling weather I'd be able to get out more. As it is, on-going dizziness has kept me tethered. I may have worked out the problem: orthostatic intolerance (OI) is a chronic state for many people with ME. OI is a condition in itself (there's a reasonable discussion of it on Wikipedia), but it's just one more of many symptoms experienced by MEites. One solution to chronic OI is to drink a very large amount of water, more than two liters per day. Now, I'm only 5'2", and I find it quite challenging to drink that much water - not to mention the hassle of keeping track, and all the bathroom breaks, and the vast amount of toilet paper used up in the process! Oh, and the cost of water - here in Malta tap water is undrinkable, and I buy mine in 19L bottles which are delivered, collected, and reused. Nevertheless, now that I'm aware of the problem I'm chugging the stuff down just as fast as I can, and hoping I'll be back on my feet and out taking afternoon walks again soon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's for Dinner?

When you spend as much time as I do taking power naps on the sofa, there's not much time left over for less exciting activities such as cooking and doing the dishes. When my blood pressure is having a good day and I can keep myself vertical for at least an hour at a time, then I cook a big pot of something satisfying, with plenty of protein and a garden full of fresh vegetables that take half an hour to chop up. This will last for a couple of days. But there are in-between days when the pot is empty, and having a snooze is a more attractive proposition than doing either the washing up or cooking. Unfortunately my appetite hasn't noticed that I'm expending less energy and still makes urgent demands on my attention.

At around 1 pm today I wandered into the kitchen and realized that the pile of dirty cookware and utensils left me few options for lunch. I resorted to my emergency tuna fish salad: quickly washing my one good chopping knife and retrieving the only clean board left out of three, I chopped up half a small red onion, a couple of tomatoes, and a third of a yellow pepper. On top of these I emptied a small tin of tuna fish in olive oil, a generous sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, and then a spoonful or so of capers. When I remember I add some nori flakes - but I forgot those today. Lunch ready in about ten minutes.

Do you have any quick and healthy meals to share? Healthy for me means no bread, no fruit mixed with vegetables, no preservatives.

Now, what's for dinner?!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Picking up... cooling down.

After my 'crash' two weeks ago I'm gradually picking up again - I won't say "returning to normal", as there is no "normal" for me any longer. At least I'm not spending all day on the sofa (just a couple of hours), and I've been able to go out for a walk along the sea-front again.

Evening walk along the Qawra sea-front.

This morning I was browsing the "Life as we know it" blog and found this link to an "open letter to those without invisible disability or chronic illness" which I think is worth sharing: http://notdoneliving.net/openletter/id

Tourists are still here in abundance, enjoying breakfasts in the open and lining up for the buses; the locals are still parading on the sea-front on cool Sunday evenings - I know, because I can see them from the roof of my flat. But we've had a few short rain storms, the wind is up, and temperatures are dropping rapidly. I call it the start of the rainy season; 'autumn' or 'fall' doesn't quite fit here, as there are no leaves turning yellow, and this is the season when farmers begin putting compost on the fields in preparation for planting.

Another Qawra sunset photo!

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I passed a neighbour yesterday, an old woman with white hair, wearing a loose shift covered in flowers, starting to bend over and shuffle. “It was cooler today” she remarked. If it was, I hadn’t noticed. I’m still changing my shirts three times a day, and you probably don’t want to hear about the various skin problems I’m experiencing thanks to all this heat and humidity. But there are other signs of summer coming to an end: other neighbours packing shopping bags with bits and pieces of their belongings, stuffing them into cars for the short but traffic-clogged drive back up the hill to their winter homes in Mosta or Birkirkara or Balzan. The group of young people in the next-door flat, acrobatic performers from Bulgaria and the USA working here for the season have left. They’ve been a lively and friendly presence during the summer. I went out to my local mini-supermarket at 6 in the evening – unthinkable due to the hot sun just a week ago. I feel like I have evenings back again, though just for a short time, before they disappear into the night of winter.