Sunday, March 06, 2011

Feeling Better?

At one time I thought: “if it doesn’t get me back to work then I don’t want to know” when considering a “cure” or treatment for M.E. But in the past two months I’ve picked up around 10% in my overall health – and that 10% makes a big difference.

I can now drive short distances. This means I can go to the library, do some grocery shopping, get a hair cut, and go for some medical appointments without needing to ask for help. The sense of independence this provides is liberating – I am so dependent on others for many crucial aspects of life – and lifts my mood on days I go out.

The question I’m asking myself now – and if you have M.E. you may be thinking it too – is what have I done to feel better? Following are the main variables that have changed in my life in the past four months since moving to Melbourne from Malta:

Less exercise: I no longer need to carry my groceries – either someone else is doing the shopping, or I go by car; I no longer need to do all the cleaning myself; I no longer use stairs on a daily basis; I no longer have cats to clean up after and entertain (I miss them, but that’s a different matter).

Diet: I have been careful about diet for a long time, but have recently made further changes: cutting out sugar and sweet things entirely; cutting out wheat and gluten almost entirely; greatly reducing the amount of carbohydrates (rice, oats, bread, pasta, etc) eaten; reducing the amount of food I eat and eating smaller portions for all meals; limiting fruit to 1 piece a day (or less). I am in the process of getting tested for a wide range of food intolerances, including testing for celiac disease, so expect more adjustments to come.

Climate: Melbourne has a significantly drier climate than Malta, where humidity causes a lot of discomfort for people with ME and MS, in both summer and winter.

Noise: I now live in a relatively quiet suburb where I’m exposed to far less noise from neighbours, traffic, and local construction projects. The level of noise pollution in Malta has reached intolerable levels, and caused me a lot of stress.

There are other differences, but I think these are the most significant. Or it is just in the nature of this disease with its fluctuating symptoms that I happen to feel somewhat better at present. I must still be on my guard: a couple of hours away from home, spending time with another person, will still leave me feeling brain-fogged and drained. Ready to return to work I am not.

Visiting my father's photographic exhibit at the Monash Gallery of Art on one of the hottest days of the summer.