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. 


Liz Willow said...

It's great to hear you're feeling a bit better, Nicky! One never knows if change will help or not, and if so, what kind of change.

I chose to move to a quieter neighborhood some years ago. The move itself was very hard on me and I crashed at first, but the new location definitely made life easier for me in the long term.

Nicky Reiss said...

Thanks, Liz! My first two months here were really rough and I had a few "crash" days, so it's a pleasant surprise to find myself picking up now.

cinderkeys said...

I'm not sick, but I know that in general, when things have been awful, a little bit of improvement can make a huge difference. I'm happy for you and hope you continue to feel at least that much better.

jenny said...

Am very happy for you, Nicky. Ten percent is ten percent! Maybe also the proximity of loved ones helps?
Hope you will continue to improve!

Dad said...

Nicky, it's wonderful to have you here, and to see how much better you are feeling.
Thank you for including the picture of you at my
exhibition in your blog.
Good on ya !
Much love

nighearain said...

I had an improvement some months ago but then went downhill somewhat when I was forced to move back home. The differences were among those you mentioned: I was living in a suburb of Dublin beside the sea, now I'm just outside the city, so there's little letup when it comes to noise. I'm also living with other people who make a lot of noise. Because of the noise I feel less control over my environment and keep on forgetting to take my vitamin and mineral supplements. Also, the winter has been especially harsh which wrecks my circulation. You wouldn't necessarily think these things could make such a difference, but they do.

Nicky Reiss said...

Claire - not fun to see yourself get worse. Noise is a huge problem and it seems that people in general just don't understand this issue. And there's no doubt that cold weather makes things worse - there are now studies showing that more people have heart attacks in cold weather. Keep warm!

Carolyn said...

Hi Nicky, I've no idea why, even though I'm following you, your blog does not appear in my blog roll when you put up a new post??

Or maybe (more likely) my brain fog turned into a Welsh mist when I look !!!

Anyway, I am glad you're doing 10% better. It really makes a difference to day to day life. I totally agree with you on the "variables" that you've factored in. The diet in particular is crucial to get sorted.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Nicky Reiss said...

Hi Carolyn,

I've no idea either! I can see my blog listed under your "Blogs I follow" on your Blogger profile page - so when you go to your Dashboard any updates from blogs you're following should show up there.

I enjoy reading about Austin's antics!


Carolyn said...

I reckon it's because I'm a bit "fick" lol. I don't even follow that many blogs, as don't want to overload myself, but now some cat lovers are following Austin's antics, I need to get my act together! It's the perennial problem of balancing need to rest with desperate need to engage :(

Not too good at the moment :( Your "advice" above is excellent. xx

nmj said...

Nicky, You do also often find small improvements with time, slowly but surely, snail-like progress, and if I could do it all again I would rest MUCH more at beginning, but I just didn't know, there was no advice in 1983! Great you are enjoying some better times, and i know you are very sensible, but please take care and don't over-do it! How cool to go to your dad's exhibition, it looks great.

Nicky Reiss said...

Thanks, nmj!

Yes - I'm always wondering if improvements are just due to the remitting/relapsing nature of the disease. However I'm so glad I was able to get tested for the fructose/lactose malabsorption problems. Have had digestion issues my whole life - it's a relief to finally find the cause. For those who are in a position to do so, I think that thorough testing is a good idea.

And I'm strict about rest - by 2 pm every afternoon I'm horizontal! And stay that way for 2-3 hours, unless I'm so full of energy I can't bear to remain in bed (extremely rare, unfortunately).