Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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ME better when abroad

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Loop1, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. Loop1


    Is there a reason why my ME symptoms are far less when abroad rather than at home?
    I went to Spain a few months ago and was expecting to spend most of the time in bed or lying in the sun. But I was able to go out and walk 2-3 km each day with hardly any fatigue the following day. This was for four days. I recently went to Holland and the same happened.
    At home in the UK i am in bad pain a lot of the time and have to take a lot painkillers. And walking 2-3 km would affect me for several days afterwards and in bed sleeping and fatigued.
    TiredSam, sb4 and belize44 like this.
  2. TenuousGrip

    TenuousGrip Senior Member

    I'm going by memory, which -- as we all know -- doesn't always work well, but ISTR ... was it @Strawberry ?? who did much, much better when she (?) was away. I'm thinking Hawaii.

    I wonder if he/she ever came to a conclusion about why.

    Whatever it is ... I hope you can identify the factor and then grab onto it firmly and permanently :)
    belize44 likes this.
  3. unto

    unto Senior Member

    surely the heat helps to relieve the symptoms, then there is the fact that on holiday we are more dynamic more active alert and this lowers / covers the intensity of the disturbances.

    in summary this could be the thought of "honest" psychologists:cautious:
  4. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

    Do you have any mould or other environmental factors where you live? Or is your diet different? An interesting mystery.
    belize44 likes this.
  5. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member

    The other side.
    I'm in the UK, which is abroad for nearly 7 billion people, my M.E. has not been improved by this fact. It is unlikely to improve if I go just outside my front door, experience tells me it's unlikely to improve if I walk to the bus stop, It will not improve if i catch a bus to somewhere a mile away, 10 miles away. 300 miles away.

    My M.E. doesn't care about geographical location, it does care about the effort required to change geographical location, and will make me pay for inconveniencing it.

    So if there is an effect, strong enough to overrule M.E.'s dislike of, well, practically everything, careful note taking should be employed to determine at which point whilst in the process of going from "here" to "abroad" this is noticeable - and a simple process would then tell you what the important factor/factors is/are, other than geographic location.

    Once you've done this please, first, come and tell us, and then write and publish a paper on it, .......and then collect your Nobel prize.
    belize44 likes this.
  6. Invisible Woman

    Invisible Woman Senior Member

    I haven't been well enough to go anywhere for quite some time but when I could:

    For a short break - few days to a week I would seem better. Not heat related as I hate hot climates. I reckon much of it was due to not having to use effort into planning or trying to prepare meals & other household chores.

    There's also an element of being able to "push through" cause of the added interest of being somewhere else for a change. I would pay later.

    For longer breaks:. 1 week plus - I would start to become more unwell as the holiday went on. The more severely affected I've become, the sooner this happens.

    From my experience it depends on how badly affected you are to start with.
    belize44 likes this.
  7. msf

    msf Senior Member

    I have experienced the same phenomenon. I think it is two things for me: the sun, which definitely lifts my mood (and possibly has other serotonin or vitamin D-related effects); and walking around slowly (as you do when you are sightseeing, with breaks to sit in cafes, etc), which drains the lactic acid from my limbs, whereas sitting in a chair all day means that it builds up. I only have moderate ME though, so it might work differently for others.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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  8. lnester7

    lnester7 Seven

    I do great at see level too. Which is bizare since plp with POTs is supposed to do better at high altitude but I don't
  9. Basilico

    Basilico Florida

    This is definitely a real phenomenon. For me, it definitely has nothing to do with sun, since I live in Florida and get lots of sun all year long.

    When I arrived in Italy about 2 weeks ago, after an overnight flight, during which I did not sleep at all (so in effect, I had a 48 hr day) with jet lag and the usual stress of traveling, something bizarre happened; my cognition suddenly got much better. Normally, my memory is total garbage, and I have to have redundant systems in place (reminders on phone, alarms, notes, etc... to remember most things)

    Days before we left, I couldn't remember the Italian I'd learned years ago but as soon as I arrived, I was firing on all cylinders, picking up new vocab, phrases, and verb tenses like crazy. It was like all of a sudden my memory worked again. It felt like I had a completely different brain. Even before I was sick foreign language acquisition was a major weakness for me. Now suddenly it seems to be a strength.

    Perhaps there is an increase in cortisol which reduced brain inflammation. I have no way to know if this is a viable explanation. I do tend to feel better after not sleeping (though this is true only for one night of missed sleep, it doesn't hold true for long term sleep deprivation).

    So far, I'm not feeling any better physically (though when traveling, I often do). I fully expect that my new-found cognitive abilities will disappear just as quickly as they showed up, so I'm just trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Luckily, we are staying with family who is taking care of things like cooking to give us a chance to rest.

    Unfortunately, my husband does not experience this phenomenon; he's feeling just as crappy as ever, and is quite depressed that we are so close to so many countries that he'd like to visit, yet it feels completely out of reach for him to do much of anything.

    I would like to understand why some people experience this and others don't, but I guess that's just one more mystery to add to the mountain of unanswered questions.
    Jennifer J, TiredSam and belize44 like this.
  10. Strawberry

    Strawberry Senior Member

    Seattle, WA USA
    Yes it's me. My allergies and MCS go away in Hawaii due to the clean air. As soon as I get to the airport and breathe in the jet fuel it all comes back. It takes about 3 days in Hawaii before I start feeling stronger, but one minute of pollution to bring the jello legs back.
    TiredSam and belize44 like this.
  11. Webdog

    Webdog Senior Member

    For me personally, trips seem to make no difference.

    After taking a few days to recover from the actual travel, my ME/CFS feels basically the same. No matter if the destination is hot or cold or wet or dry or sunny or cloudy.
    sb4 and belize44 like this.
  12. gettinbetter

    gettinbetter Senior Member

    San Francisco Bay Area
    I have had this experience also more than once

    I also feel better at sea level

    I also have had the experience of feeling much worse just by being in another location and it was not overexertion I mentioned it to my Doctor and he suggested Ozone

    I am amazed other people are also effected by location

    I am guessing air pollution and electromagnetic pollution are the causes

    I would love to know if more people experience this phenomena and why they think they do
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
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  13. sb4

    sb4 Senior Member

    United Kingdom
    I do not believe this is psycological at all. Many things change when you move location. Big ones are Sun and EMF. Sun does many things, much more than just vit D. It fixes your circadian rhythm (hormone release), increases ATP through your mitochondria, lowers BP, builds hormones, catalysis reactions etc.

    I know I feel a lot better just sitting all day in my garden (as opposed to house) and this is in the UK, with my feet grounded to the grass. I have also had success with light therapys.

    To the guy who went from florida to italy. Have you measured the EMF in your environment? I have heard florida is particularly bad.
    ScottTriGuy likes this.
  14. Stretched

    Stretched Senior Member

    U.S., Southeast
  15. Francis Hale

    Francis Hale

    Maybe the reason is in the climate. For your condition, a warm and dry climate is favorable in Spain, rather than wet and cold as in Britain. In any case, a very important observation.
  16. erin

    erin Senior Member

    Its the wet weather, humidity in UK is bad for me. I live abroad for 6 to 8 months. I enjoy dry heat, wind and the swimming in the sea. I feel much better outside UK.
  17. Tammy

    Tammy Senior Member

    New Mexico
    I have traveled once in the 20 yrs I've been ill...........and it was to Hawaii. I can't say my CFS symptoms were better...........however I slept like a baby the time I was there. After returning home my sleep was horrible again.
  18. Murph

    Murph :)

    I've experienced this on trips to Spain, the USA and Japan. It's not a cure-all though. I've also had trips (NZ and Japan) where I pushed too hard and got really, really ill.

    I am increasingly wondering if there's mould in my house. I can't find any but it is an old house. I might get the professionals to come and look.
    Invisible Woman likes this.
  19. mariovitali

    mariovitali Senior Member

    I don't think that this is in your head. I use a Kestrel Weather Station (see attached images) to track several aspects of Weather. The worst to induce Symptoms appear to be Humidity changes followed by Temperature changes.

    In my area i talk with a couple of Fibromyalgia / CFS patients and whenever humidity rises above 62% they have more pain ( i also had that when i had CFS). I checked with others too so there may be a pattern here that deserves more investigation.

    Tammy and Invisible Woman like this.
  20. Basilico

    Basilico Florida

    Funny thing is that I live in Florida, get a lot of sun, and feel like crap. Now that I'm in Italy, I am getting significantly less sun (now that I'm in a northern latitude, it's colder, the sun isn't as strong, and I'm inside most of the time) but my cognition is better. This would support that the sun is impacting me negatively.

    I haven't measured EMF. However, I've lived in 8 different places in the past 5 years in the US (3 in Florida and the rest in the Northeast) and I felt equally bad in all of them. I think it's unlikely EMF could be a viable explanation.
    Invisible Woman likes this.

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