Fall. The children are back in school. The leaves are changing color. There is a nip in the air. It is time for the annual contest to see who is lucky enough to get the most catalogs, from the most places. The amount of catalog “junk” mail seems to multiply like rabbits this time of year. It sounds like I’m complaining about the catalogs, but I’m not. They are certainly better than bills. Although there is nothing I, or my budget, needs to purchase, I enjoy looking at most of them. And every so often I run across something which really touches me or makes me think.
Just that happened when I was glancing at a gift catalog I get fairly frequently. One of those with the cute little gifts for everyone. This is a wall hanging meant to be an inspiration. It s a quote from Mother Teresa which says so much about her life, but is very applicable in mine as well. It says “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
Mother Teresa did, indeed, handle many things in her life. I’m sure she had her periods of frustration as all of us do. But she prevailed. She handled situations and problems most people would turn away from.
We, too, have to handle many difficult situations in our lives. Our disease makes changes in our abilities, our coping skills, our endurance, in all aspects of our lives. We have to deal with pain, fatigue, mental fog, and trying to maintain our roles in society, at whatever altered level.
Last week, I had an experience which really frightened me. I developed a serious case of vertigo. I know this can be a symptom of FM, but as a nurse, I also know there may be other reasons for vertigo. Mine came on very suddenly at Physical Therapy. I went in, feeling fairly well. After my hot pack treatment, I tried to sit up. Each time I lifted my head, the room started whirling around, and I got nauseated. It took the help of the therapist, and about 30 minutes to get me very shakily on my feet again. I sat around until I felt safe enough to drive home, and I did get home safely, but probably should have called for a ride.
I went back to bed, but continued to have symptoms all day, and the next morning, when I first woke up, my closet doors looked more like the wheels of a slot machine, turning very rapidly, then slowing down to a stop before I could get out of bed.
I tried to call my doctor, but we missed connections somehow. I checked all the things I could think to check: my blood pressure, my blood sugar. Have I eaten anything different, or taken any different medications? Everything was in my normal range, and nothing new had been added. So I decided to ride it out over the weekend, and see if the symptoms got better. They did, but very slowly. It was like being drunk without the alcohol. When I finally reached my doctor, he was able to reassure me that these symptoms were probably temporary.
What was at least as frightening as the symptoms, was realizing how my life would change if the symptoms did not improve. My spouse would not let me drive, and insisted on taking me anywhere I needed to go. Independence is one thing I am very unwilling to give up. I am not ready to have to inconvenience another person to meet my need to go out. Was this more than I can handle? For a while I thought it was, and it was very disturbing.
This disease requires us to make many changes and adjustments in our lives. We make them because it does not give us a choice. We find ways to continue doing those things which are important to us. But there are some adjustments which are too frightening, or too difficult to make. Driving was one of these, at least for me. For others, there may be other changes which are more difficult.
Is this more than I can handle? That is yet to be seen. I know there have been other situations in my life since diagnosis, when I have said to myself “I can’t do this, or I can’t deal with this”. But I have muddled through. I have adapted. Each time there is a new hurdle, I don’t know if I can make it, but somehow I do. We may have a choice of how we confront a new symptom or restriction, but we will have to deal with it. Life and the disease don’t give us a choice.
Because we are faced with these challenges, it is important for us to build a support system. There are many things my mental health would not have survived without encouragement and love from family and friends. They may not understand what you are dealing with but they can still supply support as you face the adjustment you need to make. I also have friends “in the CFS/FM community”, mostly online, with whom I can share what is happening. They give me input from like or similar situations they have encountered. We are able to help each other.
There will be times when each of us feels overwhelmed. We need to trust ourselves and our ability to adapt to the demands placed on us by our disease. Use your resources . Ask for support from you family. Let them know what you need. Seek emotional support from them, a counselor, or others who share our diagnosis. I frequently visit the chat room and message boards at Immunesupport.com. I am also on some email support groups. I gain strength from all these avenues. I seek and provide the resources to continue fighting to maintain my quality of life. I have learned to trust myself. Take care and be well.
Yours in health,
I welcome your comments and questions at: firstname.lastname@example.org. My
articles and email responses are not being offered as those of a health care
provider. The information and opinions included are intended to give you
some information about your disease. It is very important that you empower
yourself with knowledge and participate in your own search for care. Any
advice given is not intended to take the place of advice of your physician
or mental health care provider. Always follow your physician’s advice, even
if contradicted by something written here. You and your physician know your
situation far better than I do. Thank you and be well.