So, we have finally made it to the end of the introductory course, and it finishes, like the predicted demise of our planet, with a whimper rather than a bang.

Confession:my interest in the course has rather waned, as fewer people have made contributions each week. This reminds me of an oversubscribed drawing course I attended years ago. On week one: there were not enough chairs and easels for everyone..and by week 7 it was just me, a bloke who had been going to the same class for years, our tutor and the life model. We humans have the tendency to be strong on enthusiasm and short on commitment.

In the case of the ME course many of us have been in flare up- some, including the course moderator, severely so. It does not exactly inspire confidence to know that the person leading the course is not doing any better than us newbies(!)...and would seem to reinforce the argument that pacing is not an answer. Someone on PR described pacing as like treading water until the lifeboat arrives ( apologies for stealing your idea, and I can't recall who wrote it) I do not see pacing as The Solution, but I have seen how it is a helpful tool, and doing this course has helped me to focus on the things I want to do, and to break tasks down into shorter blocks of time.

A person popped up on the last week to say that despite not contributing anything they have enjoyed watching us all from the sidelines. I suppose is another big advantage of it being a 'virtually attended' course. You can sit in on the class without actually being there; the ME equivalent of 'dogging'. Otherwise there have been a loyal band of contributors, some of who have had their own protocols, diets, methods to recommend...but basically we are all in the same boat and the waves are constantly choppy with the ever present threat of a storm.

So what did I learn? It is enlightening to see other people in the same position as you- it is like taking a long hard look at your own reality. I tend to be a glass half full type of elephant, but I think it is fair to see that with moderate- severe ME. the glass is always half empty as well as half full..Early in this course, I realized that my 30% was actually wildly optimistic, and 20-25% is nearer the mark. This has been devastating as I have been forced to adjust the amount of energy I have to be active from 2.5 hours to 1 hour. I have cut down on computer use, let go of several responsibilites and have generally said 'no' a lot more often..

I have also been using a tip that one of the course participants gave me, to write down one or two things you plan to do next day, and leave the note by your bed so you see it first thing. You do not add to the list unless you know you are able to expend more energy. This has been surprisingly successful, and although I am doing far less over all, I have been able to plan my week and do the few things I have planned.

Good things about the course overall: contact with a group of your peers all struggling with ME/Fibro, re- reading the book ( which you can buy seperately from doing the course), corresponding with those in the group I had something in common with, it also gave a solid focus to my pacing, as we had to set goals each week, people's friendliness and kindness. After doing this course it is possible to join the course alumni and be part of that forum.

Negatives: A vast amount of emails to read and process (85 email to read, plus the ones I had to write!) The course is for both ME and Fibro, so some of the information does not apply to ME, the course is quite speedy and some ( in my opinion), key topics, like exercise,were only add-ons to other topics.

Have I learnt anything useful? Yes.
Do I think this course has helped me to live better? Yes, just not as much as I had hoped.
Do I believe this can help me get better? No

So, is the course worth doing? If you have enough cognitive function and would like the social interaction, then it is worth doing, as it is inexpensive and you can work at your own pace. There is always more to learn, and some people found the course REALLY helpful.

If you don't fancy all those emails, you can buy the course book from the site: It is a good basic guide to the nuts and bolts of day to day living with ME and would be good to share with carers and family members.

There are a very varied and helpful selection of articles on the site, all written by suffers talking about what has helped them. The emphasis is on practical problem solving, and sharing of experiences, good and bad, rather than positive thinking.

Well... I must pack up my quill pen and ink pot and I end with the words of Bugs Bunny.....' That's All Folks!'


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