1. I can stay out of bed during the day.
Before Chronic Fatigue Syndrome led me to my naturopath Dr. Kelly Upcott, I was spending anywhere from 5 to 8 hours during the daytime in bed. I was also sleeping 8 to 10 hours at night.
The rest periods have very gradually been shrinking to the point that most days I don't need them. If a day has been too busy then I'll lay down for a half hour or so, but these times are becoming less and less frequent.
2. I don't hurt all over.
Before my naturopathic visits, I had pain in my arms, hands, legs and feet. I limped when I walked. I couldn't open a bottle or jar, or hold a pen without serious pain. I lost the use of my right arm, without warning, for months at a time.
I no longer limp. I type like greased lightning, and have flexibility and strength back in my fingers. I can go for an hour-long walk without faltering.
3. Flareups of tendinitis take a few weeks to heal instead of a few months.
I still have times when I'll have major problems with my arms and hands. But I use castor oil on the afflicted area, and I apply an ointment that helps lymph move at a better clip. I take omega-3 oil every day which seems to have made inroads in my chronic inflammation.
I may get derailed from time to time -- and do -- but it's not as intense or as long-lasting as it used to be.
4. My face, arms and hands don't vibrate or become numb anymore.
Well, hardly ever.When I began to vibrate and shake, that used to be my signal to eat something. I didn't get hungry, but I would feel my ability to think drain away, and my body and brain would fill with a physical white noise. I could hear the ocean roar -- or the beast of CFS -- in my ears.
But now, when I need to eat, I know, because ... I get hungry. I'm still capable of overdoing things. Occasionally I have more to do than I can handle, and I'll start to get some of these CFS symptoms, but now, half an hour away from the offending activity is usually all it takes to clear things up.
5. I'm not dizzy all the time.
I had such vertigo at one point, walking down my own hallway was a challenge. The walls seemed to undulate in on me and the floor seemed to rise up. I felt like I was going to bump into things even when nothing was near me.
Now I can walk without fear of tripping or falling over. I can drive a car. I can ride a bike, and even look over my shoulder for traffic while I'm riding.
6. I don't have bags and dark circles under my eyes.
I looked so old at 49 I didn't recognize myself. Every glance into a mirror was cause for mourning over my lost self.
The first acupuncture session I had made an ever-so slight rejuvenation of my face. My eyes were just a little bit more like my eyes. After a few months of acupuncture I began to cautiously believe that maybe I was in there somewhere after all.
I look every day of my 55 years, and have earned it. But I look like I'm alive, and I look more like myself again.
7. I can talk on the phone.
Before I was hit with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I spent many hours with a phone stuck to my ear, talking with homeschoolers and planning meetings and events. But that came to an abrupt halt when I got sick. Even a moment to say hello would be enough to make me dizzy, nauseous and vibrating.
I am not presently in the market for long conversations every day by any means, but I am no longer a basketcase when I hang up.
8. I'm no longer panting and gasping for air all day.
I would pant like a decrepit old woman from the exertion of walking from one room to the next. Standing up to cook or wash some dishes would have me puffing so loudly my husband could hear me from the next room.
I still have periods of time when I deal with this, but at one time it was a non-stop affair from the moment I dragged out of bed to the moment I collapsed back into it -- usually an hour after I'd climbed out of it. For weeks at a time I can now move through my house without my location being advertised by my gasping.
9. My sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is no longer in constant overdrive.
Even writing a four item grocery list used to put me to bed vibrating with a CFS kaleidoscope in my head and a barely containable desire to scream for it all to stop. I could lay there for hours without relief.
Adrenal support seems to have been helping me with this, from the use of various adaptogens like ashwagandha and deglycyrrhized licorice. Improved messaging of my central nervous system due to things like omega-3 oil and acupuncture seem to be restoring a sense of serenity more of the time.
10. I can think again.
Ten minute conversations used to exhaust me, sending me to bed to regroup my energies. I did not plan, I did not look to the future; I could hardly deal with the present.
My CFS symptoms were so overwhelming they were all I was aware of much of the time. I could spend a few minutes with my family after dinner, and then it was off to my bedroom with a head full of white noise and devoid of thought.
Now I am able to write articles and put in a respectable work week, spend time with my family, and think lovely thoughts about having more to life than Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I spent 15 years losing the battle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Four years ago I found treatment that worked for me, and now I am making a comeback.
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