Best Laid Plans

This is not the day I planned to come back from my holiday hiatus, nor is this the post I planned for the beginning of a new year. But as they say: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”

I made it through the holidays pretty well. One final family event was beyond my capacity, and my husband proceeded to come down with a sinus infection during his time off, but compared to previous years I was doing alright in early January. I gave myself extra days of rest, and I made some fabulous lists of things that either need doing or that I want to accomplish. I felt like I had a handle on things. Which, of course, is the signal in my personal universe for the wheels to come off the cart.

I got a norovirus.

Or something like a norovirus. Stomach bug, food poisoning, stomach flu, whatever. The acute symptoms lasted about 24 hours, and my gut took another four days to normalize. But it’s the fatigue to the point of prostration that kicked my butt. For about a week, I was sleeping ten hours at night and another three to five hours during the day. And the time I was awake, I spent staring out the window or watching tv. The first sign of improvement was when I started to stress about everything on those lovely lists I had made the week before. I’m sleeping a little less now, and writing this post, so I guess things are looking up.

It amazes me that even after more than 18 years of this disease, “fatigue” can still take me by surprise. Fatigue is such an inadequate word to describe the experience. And as most patients know, even the small systemic disruption caused by a common virus has an enormous negative impact on our body systems. I seem to be strongly resistant to upper respiratory viruses, almost never catching my husband’s colds. But we are the reverse when it comes to gastroenteritis – he never gets it and I do.

If the severe fatigue cleared up after a few days, it wouldn’t be so bad. But as it stretches into week two, I get more anxious. Will I get back to baseline? Will this acute illness cause a permanent worsening of my activity? How will we cope if I become more disabled? How will I endure day after day of sleep and misery? So far, I’ve been lucky. I always return to baseline, even though it can take weeks. And I have learned (the hard way) to listen to my body when it screams “SLEEP!”

So Happy Freaking New Year. I hope this is not an omen for how the year will go. And I hope I’ll be back to baseline and resuming my planned activities and blog posts very soon.

This entry was posted in Occupying and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Best Laid Plans

  1. LJ says:

    I hear ya! it’s not an omen — it’s the holiday crush — people think before Christmas is the worst but frankly, I find it is after Christmas that is bad — our holiday fatigue and stress from visits confronts January germs/viruses and we lose every time; this year, this stomach bug is all around our town and my house – ugh…. just spent several days on the couch — I just decided to go with it … and think how nice it was to hold Emmy and see the doggies with her! now I am feeling better – so hang in there and stop fretting! of course, it only took me this long to learn this lesson! love you!

  2. LJ says:

    one more thing — I froze some of the Christmas cookies so I didn’t eat them all at once; yesterday, I had a Christmas tree light with glitter and part of a ginger Christmas stocking – felt better right away! thanks for making them!

  3. Suzi M says:

    I’m so sorry you’ve been so sick. You aren’t alone. I started a CFS flare 1/2/13 and was in bed till yesterday. During that time I left the house one evening only, when I picked up a cold/cough virus. Lots of sleeping, dizzy, coughing, depressed me to no end. I finally got up today (1/15/13) I was functional, fairly. My endurance sucks but improving every day. I’ve been sick since 1996 and this was one of the worst flares/viruses I’ve had in quite some time.

    Your blog kept me busy reading and is an encouragement. Thanks!

  4. Anne says:

    What a horrible start to the new year. I know how extremely ill we get wih stomach bugs, how much that infection worsens our ME/CFS – it’s horrible. I too have wondered in that situation: has this put me down to a new level from which I won’t recover? I hope you do get back to baseline. (And I hope the baseline improves in 2013!)

    Don’t see it as a bad omen – noroviruses don’t care about the calendar, I think… 🙂

  5. I have the same thing happen, whenever I get an acute illness. My mind starts to spin with worries about whether I’ll ever get back to baseline, how we’ll cope if I don’t, etc. I’m always reminded of a great Jack Kornfield line: “The mind has no shame.”

    I’m glad that you’re beginning to feel better. And as Anne so beautifully put it above, it’s not a bad omen—noroviruses don’t care about the calendar!

  6. Melissa says:

    I’m going through the same exact thing right now, Jennie. The fatigue is unbelievable, and I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in bed. I can’t believe how these viruses do us in. All of the worries you just expressed have been swimming around in my head for days. And Tony, I love your Jack Kornfield quote. So true!!!

  7. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! (the word speedy relating to the different time frame those of us with ME/CFS have to live by!) I’m sure you’ll get back to your baseline and then beyond it. One tiny step at a time!

  8. Kate says:

    Jennie, I just discovered your blog and SO appreciate it! From what I’ve read so far, we have very similar levels of illness. So when I read this post I burst out laughing. I literally could have written every word. I got sick with the norovirus on Dec 24– had 24-48 hours of gi symptoms and fever. But when those ended, I was left with the most debilitating fatigue and weakness that I’d had since the first two years, when I was that ill constantly.

    The thoughts and fears are almost as excruciating as the physical symptoms. I couldn’t stop crying– I just kept thinking over and over, what if I feel this way for another two years?? I can’t stand it. I’m not going to do it (Ha! Like I’d have a choice.) I was just in so much pain.

    Luckily after about 2 weeks I slowly started improving, and now am back to where I was before the norovirus. I am so grateful, but also traumatized. The feelings of fear are so intense that I’ve been wondering if it might be helpful to do some EMDR to try and deal with what feel like PTSD symptoms. Has anyone else either tried or considered this?

    • Jennie Spotila says:

      Thank you, Kate, although I wish our experiences were not so similar! I have wondered about PTSD and other emotional consequences for people who have been isolated as long as we have. It must affect our decision making, coping and emotional well being. I’m not aware of anyone who has tried therapy targeted at PTSD related to CFS though.

Comments are closed.