Looking back on past Christmases with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I recall some ups and downs.
Six years ago, on our 25th anniversary, I thought I was having a stroke. Spent the day seeing my doctor then at the hospital for tests. Spent the next four months in bed. For Christmas, I was in bed 20 hours a day. My family made dinner.
Four years ago, I had almost no use of my right arm. My knees and feet were deteriorating. My breath came in gasps. Christmas, from the little I remember, was a pleasant affair because my family makes it so.
I spent an hour or so in the afternoon, and an hour or so after dinner with them. Then I retreated to bed with a book while they played cards and chatted and laughed at the other end of the hall. At the other end of the universe.
By Christmas time three years ago, I'd been seeing my naturopath for a few months. My energy was better. Pain level was lower. Mental confusion and neurological buzzing was less.
I recall being in good shape, even did my own Christmas shopping. This state of balance and bliss lasted till half an hour into Christmas morning. CFS buzz and confusion moved in, hand and hand. My daughter recognized the moment it happened. Someone had handed me a gift. I stared up at them uncomprehending. And that was that.
Somebody got me some ham, because protein would often stave off a good buzz within twenty minutes or so. It helped. But my wagon had been tipped and eventually I surrendered myself to bed. Took several weeks to recover from that CFS crash.
I'm probably in the best shape this December than I've been in a decade. I'll be able to help with the cooking, spend time with my family, and expect to be alright afterwards.
Not all my thoughts will be with the comforting presence of my family however. I'll also be thinking of those countless individuals being crushed, immobilized and separated from their loved ones by this crippling condition of CFS.
I've been worse off than some, better off than others. I am recovering. Many are not, and are faced with the prospect that perhaps they never will. These people who bear this condition day in and day out, are heroes of epic proportions.