Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New year, new diagnosis, new decisions

2010 was the ride of a lifetime. It was one of the craziest, most emotional, most life changing year I've experienced in this lifetime. I married the man I truly believe I was made for. We bought, built, and moved into our first home. We brought home a puppy, who has become such a huge part of our lives, we sometimes forget we didn't always have him. I brought home and "A" in a psychology class that I barely participated in around wedding planning, working out the house, and working full time. I survived my first year of 12hour dayshift.

But I'm not gonna lie.

Not all of it was amazing.

My relationship with my mother went through such an upheaval that some days I thought we'd never speak again after I moved out. By the time my wedding day came, I was so tired of planning and thinking and stressing that I basically just endured the day. (The photographer captured some of that in at least one shot.) Between a bad cold and a concert in the city, Valentines day was a disaster. We came home from our honeymoon to my father-in-law's house, where we lived for the next two months.

And then there were the physical things, bot pre and post wedding. I could wake up one morning feeling fantastic. I'd get my laundry done, run some errands, spend time with Jason, do all kinds of things around the house, and feel good. The next day, I couldn't move. I'd sleep until 10, barely get moving, maybe take a nap in the afternoon, and go to bed early. Everything hurt, pretty much all the time. Even on a "good" day I'd feel tired if I stood still too long. And not just your normal "oh, you've been working too hard" tired. No, this is your "I haven't slept in 24 hours" kind of tired. A tired that doesn't go away when you wake up in the morning, no matter how long you've slept. I had chronic sinus infections. I had mood swings like crazy! One minute I'd be laughing, then next I would literally be crying or screaming. And forget about a sex drive, since every intimate touch sent me through the ceiling in agony.

So we did bloodwork. Maybe I was anemic. But no. CBC was completely normal, despite the fact that I foolishly had it done in the midst of Aunt Flo's visit. We did allergy testing. Big surprise, dog and cat dander came up high, along with several different grasses and molds. So I started on allergy meds. We checked thyroid levels, since hypothyroidism runs in my mother's family. That was fairly normal, but we started a low dose of meds just to be sure. After a couple weeks I felt even worse and took myself off them. After some research, I thought maybe it was the birth control I had changed to, and we switched me back to one I had been on previously. That helped with the mood swings, but not much else.

So more bloodwork. Another CBC. Another thyroid panel. Then an Epstein-Barr titer. Bingo!! Positive! We finally had an answer.

Apparently, the Epstein-Barr virus is connected to several diseases, including Mono and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Through process of elimination, my doctor has diagnosed  me with CFS. Thankfully, it's only a mild case. I've been reading stories of people diagnosed with CFS that can't get out of bed for days at a time, and barely have the strength to get from the bed to the bathroom. (For more information on CFS, check out the CDC's case definition )

So now that we know what's going on in my body, how am I going to handle it? I bought two books off Amazon last week (you can find them here and here ). The first one arrived the other day, and I devoured it in about an hour. The author had lived with CFS for a couple years, and beat it. I'm waiting till the other book comes, but I think I've got a handle on what I need to do.

I hate new year's resolutions, because you're basically making promises to yourself you're going to break by the end of April. So along with my "treatment", here are my 2011 decisions

  • Stay hydrated. I am notorious for being chronically dehydrated, which contributes to my sinus issues. To make this realistic, I've decided to drink at least six 6-oz glasses of fluid a day. This makes it easier for me to measure my progress, as the "fruitables" and juice boxes I've been packing for lunches are approx. 6oz each...get 6 of those down during a 12 hour shift is mentally a lot easier than trying so suck down one huge 32oz bottle! 
  • Have some salt One of the points I read was some CFS-ers tend to have a drop in blood pressure when they stand up, and that their blood pressure tends to drop in the afternoon. My goal is to get down some kind of tomato-based juice (which is actually pretty high in sodium) in mid afternoon when I start feeling the late day drag, and see if that helps.
  • Better diet! Diet plays a role in recovery from CFS just like any disease. Hubby has been encouraging me to create a diet for him so he can shed some excess baggage, and the Flat Belly Diet really seems to be something that would work for us. My decision is to follow the recipes from the (3) cookbooks I got as much as possible, and to cut down our eating out to once a weekend instead of most of the weekend.
  • Exercise This one actually isn't too hard to follow, and actually helps my symptoms! I received a stationary bike as a birthday present, and my mother-in-law recently gifted us with her old treadmill. These are set up side-by-side in one of the spare bedrooms, and on the days I'm off Jason and I spend half an hour on them after supper. As long as I'm on the treadmill more than 4 hours before bed, I actually sleep a little better.
  • Have some "me" time" My parents gave me a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas, and my hope for the year is to set a little money aside each pay and go for a massage once a month.
  • Finish the projects! For each sewing/knitting/crochet project I want to start, I must finish at least two that I currently have in progress. I have entirely too many projects in process (more than I had shown previously!), and keep starting new ones! My hubby says I have an obsession...I'm thinking he's right.
  • Clean out the closet, decorate the haven My closet is such a sore spot for me...I just have no inspiration for how I want it to be set up. It tends to be the place where hubby throws stuff when he's trying to straighten up when someone is coming over unexpectedly...and it shows. So that needs some organization. Also, my big project for the spring is to finish decorating our bathroom, since that's really the only room left to do.
I'm sure I can think of more, but I think this is enough for one year and budget!!

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