I'm healthier than I've been in many years. So much so that in the days leading up to, and during this Christmas, I often forgot to pace myself and was surprised when the old CFS symptoms began to emerge from their dormant state.
This year I did better than most past years, it was not until December 24th that I could feel the smoky fumes drifting upwards from my brain. And it was only a little bit. But it was distressing nonetheless.
I am one of the luckier ones who are living with CFS. If you didn't know the inside scoop, you would think we were just regular people who preferred the slower lane for the Christmas season.
We didn't have tons of guests but we had family members in as often as possible over a four-day stint. We didn't hit a lineup of Christmas parties but I did go to visit a family member the day before Christmas. We didn't buy out the shops but we bought gifts and foolishness for our kids and each other. We indulged in too much food, too much candy.
My husband bought and decorated a tree, and festooned doorways with pine boughs and lights. I dragged the Christmas tablecloths and candles out of storage.
There was no room on the counters for another thing to be crowded onto them. No surface with space for another coffee cup or glass because the Christmas bear, carolers, and baskets of poinsettias and golden leaves were standing in state. The Christmas bell from my husband's childhood still bears a big red velvet bow and still plays a Christmas song when someone pulls the string -- as someone inevitably does.
This morning, the kids have all gone home, and though most wrapping paper has been thrown out, an assortment of gift bags lay empty and askew. The last few of my daughter's homemade goodies are nestled in plastic wrap on a plate. A box of chocolates is almost empty beside two that haven't been opened yet.
And the brain fog that had slowly begun creeping in is hopefully on its last legs. It got a bit worse through the two busiest days over Christmas, accompanied with a bit of numbness about the lips and fingers, and a little difficulty speaking from time to time.
Really, I should not have been surprised by the advent of these old CFS symptoms. I hadn't been eating right and things had been busy. I'd been staying up late watching old movies, and had been three times that week to my new chiropractor to work on a gimpy knee.
I did at least know what to do in terms of damage control. First strategy is always rest and quiet.
I picked up a book and headed for my bedroom a few times over those days. Read for a few minutes and drifted off to sleep, in a series of naps. My lazy cat was industriously hibernating beside me for two of those naps. My three-legged dog clambered on the bed beside me for one of them, taking up most of the bed and giving me something to lean against.
Taking the dog for 10-minute walks helped me to step outside the whirl of activity (relatively speaking -- I know our household was quiet compared to many). The chilly breeze helped to blow out some of the CFS chatter in my nervous system and the stillness of the air in a neighborhood where streets were deserted helped to level the neurological tempest.
It's a bit like survivor's guilt, this thing I experience at Christmas. Call it recovery guilt.
I am so happy to be climbing back to a life of increasing normalcy. It is a treasured gift, one that had been hoped for but not really expected. But I also feel sorrow and grief -- and yes, guilt -- as I think of those still dealing with the straits I used to be crushed by every year.
May next year be better for us all.
I spent 15 years losing the battle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Five years ago, I found treatment that worked for me, and now I am making a comeback.