Monthly Archives: February 2015


When I was in the first stages of my PVF/ME/CFS I can remember having an internet discussion with another sufferer about recovery.  Neither of us knew how far we would recover or how long it would take, but we both desperately wanted to believe it was possible.  I remember thinking that any improvement in my health would improve my quality of life, and I have experienced that all the way through my recovery.

When I was reliably able to pick my kids up from school on my electric bike it was great.  When I was able to shower regularly it was fantastic.  When I could cook meals for my family it was marvellous.  When I started this blog it was wonderful,  when I was able to walk to the end of my road it was amazing. When I was able to go to go on a cycle ride with my family it was fabulous.

Last summer I made some huge improvements, and anyone looking at me would not have known I had ME/CFS.  However, I still felt it was there, lurking.  I still had to be careful about my activity levels, plan activities, say no to a few things and disappear for rests.   This was still the case at Christmas, when I wrote that I was prioritising activities and had declined some invitations.

However, since early in the new year I feel something has shifted.  Now I feel fully recovered.  I don’t feel I have to work around my illness.  I don’t think about it.  I just get on with doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.

I do still take care of myself.  The last 3 years have taught me that’s important.  I’m still doing my Miracle Morning, and I still sometimes rest during the day if I have a busy evening ahead, but that’s because it’s sensible, not because I can’t cope with the evening without resting in the day.

This week is half term and I’ve been having fun with my family.  First was a busy weekend with my siblings and their families, then a day at the Tower of London (lots of standing and walking).  In the lovely February sunshine I’ve done some gardening and played basketball with my son.  Two friends saw me on the basketball court in our village and they looked surprised, but I knew I could run around with my son, come home and carry on with the rest of my day.  No PEM, just a few aches from playing basketball for the first time in years!

So for me that’s what recovery looks like.  It’s feeling healthy again, and just getting on with life.  It didn’t happen overnight, in fact it snuck up me so gradually that I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but I can recognise the difference.  I’m recovered.  I believe it’s permanent, but only time will tell if I’m right about that.

If you’re in the early stages of the illness, focus on resting and pacing and when you reduce your activity enough you will stabilise, and from there you can improve.  If you’re in the later stages of recovery then keep doing what you’re doing, and tweak when necessary until you reach 100% recovered.

Recovery is possible.



I See You

2015-02-10 09.25.26When I was at a really low point with my ME I can remember lying in bed, crying, and saying to my husband “I don’t feel like me any more”.

I have a really clear recollection of my husband’s response to this. He leant over me, looked right into my eyes, as if he was looking deep inside me, and said “I see you”. He said other things after that along the lines of “You are still here, you are in there, you are still you” – I can’t remember the rest of it exactly, but even after 2 years I can still clearly remember how it felt when he looked into me and said “I see you”.  This simple but powerful gesture helped me get through that low point, and also helped me at subsequent points in my illness/recovery.

At the time I felt like the very essence of me was lost. I didn’t have the energy to carry out the simplest of daily tasks, couldn’t spend much time with my family and hadn’t been well enough to see any friends for weeks, and worst of all was the brain fog and dizziness that meant I couldn’t even think properly or hold a decent conversation. It reassured me that somehow (and I still don’t know how) my husband could still see the woman he married. His belief that I was still in there gave me hope and made me realise that even though I didn’t feel very loveable at the time, I was still loved.

Today I’m back to being me. I have my energy back, I can think clearly and I’m doing things I love. So when you’re feeling low, remember you are still you, you are in there and


The photo accompanying this post was taken on a lovely walk I took along the river this morning, whilst the ideas for this blog post were settling in my mind.  The weather may be grey, but I am thankful to be well enough to walk in nature again.

Fermented Foods

2015-01-26 09.38.15I’ve been experimenting with various fermented foods over the last few months, and I’ve decided it’s time to share my results.

I’ve already written about my homemade yogurt and kombucha, which are both fermented foods.  This post focuses on my experiments fermenting vegetables.

There is a lot of science involved in the fermentation process, and, for me, some understanding of that was important to success.  I wrote a post called Cabbage Juice Stinks after my first unsuccessful experiment with fermenting cabbage.  I still shudder at the memory of that smell, and it put me off fermenting vegetables for a good while.  However, I continued to read about the benefits of fermentation, and plenty of food/health bloggers extol the virtues of foods like sauerkraut and kim chi.

I tried making sauerkraut following this recipe .  I was unsure about a recipe that called for me to scrape the mould off the surface of the ferment.  Further reading validated my doubts.

scraping off the mold leaves it’s roots behind, and ingesting this can end up causing problems in the long run. Nourishing Traditions

Apart from the mould, the other problem with this batch of sauerkraut was that it was so salty it was inedible – another unsuccessful experiment.

When I came across this fabulous set of articles testing fermentation vessels and read the detailed information about fermentation by Lea Harris of Nourishing Traditions, I understood where I’d gone wrong in my previous attempts : not keeping out oxygen.  This gave me the confidence to try fermenting again. First I bought a Kilner Jar (known as Fido Jar in the US and in the Nourishing Traditions articles).  This would allow me to keep the oxygen out of my ferment, and hopefully lead to success.  When it came time to set up my ferment I decided on Kim Chi.  I happened to have a red cabbage on hand and this led me to a recipe by Garden Betty.

The results from this have been a success.  I adapted the recipe, by leaving out the red pepper powder and daikon because I didn’t have any and I had no idea where to buy any.  I’m happy to say the other flavours in the recipe led to a tasty jar of fermented vegetables that my husband and I add to our plates regularly.  The kids turn their noses up at it, and complain about the smell, so I mainly eat it at lunch time when they are at school.  It’s a great low effort way to add additional vegetables to my meal.

Red Cabbage Kimchi  (Adapted from Garden Betty’s recipe)
Makes 3 quarts


2 pounds red cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup salt (I use sea salt)
1/2 pound carrot, julienned
6 spring onions, sliced into 1-inch segments
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small pear or apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
dechlorinated water – amount varies
2 tablespoons fish sauce


  1. Chop the cabbage into thin, bite sized pieces (I use my food processor for this)
  2. In a large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage until the leaves start to release liquid.
  3. Cover with water and let the cabbage sit at room temperature for at least two hours while the salt draws out moisture. Periodically toss the cabbage and work your hands through the leaves to expel more moisture.
  4. After about two hours, the cabbage should be soft and limp, and the volume reduced in half. (If yours is still firm and full, come back to it after another hour or two.) Strain the cabbage and rinse under running water to remove excess salt. Strain again, then return the cabbage to the bowl. Add carrot, green onions, garlic, and ginger.
  5. In a blender, combine the pear (or apple, if using), yellow onion, water, and fish sauce, and give everything a whirl until smooth. Pour the sauce over the vegetables.
  6. Put on some gloves (the sauce can be pretty spicy and smelly to work with!) and give the kimchi a good rubdown, making sure the veggies are well combined and coated with sauce.
  7. Pack the kimchi into kilner jars, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace. The veggies will expand and release more liquid as they ferment, so you don’t want to overfill the jars. Tamp down the veggies with the back of a spoon to fully submerge them. I found that there was enough liquid in the jars to keep them submerged, and since the liquid is more of a paste, the veggies don’t float to the top as in other ferments.
  8. Wipe the rims clean, then seal the jars and let ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least about 2 weeks. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to place the jars in a shallow baking dish to catch any overflow of liquid.)Every day, press down on the veggies with a spoon to expel more liquid and make sure everything is shipshape. A proper ferment should have no mold and no off smell.