To read what life was like before the crash see this post.
At the end of November 2011 I went on a night out – an early Christmas do for the staff and committee members of my children’s after school club. That was the last night I felt well. I had a great time – a meal, too much wine and some dancing.
The following week I had a sore throat, swollen glands and felt unwell. I would normally have phoned in sick for work in this condition, but I had an important meeting, so struggled on, although I drove rather than cycled to work. That weekend I completely lost my voice. I had to communicate with my family by signs and writing. By Monday I could quietly whisper to people, and instead of taking time off I continued working. I managed this by resting at home in the evenings and weekends and relying on my husband to do lots of the household chores that I normally did. I recognised that my family were taking an unfair burden of the illness, and perhaps I should rest in work time so I had some energy to spend on them, but I was really excited about the work I was doing, which culminated in a big report, due just before our planned pre-christmas break to Center Parcs.
Center Parcs was a holiday we had all been looking forward to and I was determined that my illness would not ruin it. I went to the swimming complex every day with my family and had a great time. I would have to stop the active stuff before them and I would go and lie in the Jacuzzi or get changed whilst my husband took them down the rapids yet again. I managed to ice skate as well, but had to leave the ice before the rest of the family and sit and rest. If I did too much my glands would swell up and my throat would get more sore. I thought I was listening to my body by resting whenever I got these symptoms. My husband did all the cooking and general organising of the family whilst I rested and conserved my energy so that I could join in some of the activities. Over all I came away from the holiday feeling better than at the start. I continued to suffer from fatigue, and throughout the Christmas period I had to have daily rests/sleeps in bed. I was also still getting the swollen glands and sore throat when I did too much. I stayed away from alcohol , except one glass of wine with Christmas dinner, as I was determined to kick this virus.
We had planned a New Years Eve Party (I sent the invites out in Mid December thinking that I would definitely be better by then). New Years Eve was the first day where I did not have to go to bed and rest, I felt good and we had a great night with our friends, I even had a few drinks. I still had a niggling sore throat and my glands would still sometimes swell up, but that was getting less frequent. I was 95% better. It was the New Year, time to forget a whole month of illness and dive back into life. I went back to work, and once again it was busy. I decided to ease back into exercise, so rather than cycling to work I went to the gym before work and just did 20 minutes of very gentle exercise. It felt good to be exercising again and I signed up for a spinning class the following week – I never made that class.
I survived the week OK, although I was still driving the kids to school and driving to work. On Friday, my first day to myself since before Christmas I had a long list of errands and chores that needed doing. I knew I was going to struggle to fit it all in, but worked out a plan and set off. I was progressing well with my list and by half past one had two more locations to visit. However, I felt I needed to recharge my batteries and so decided to go home have lunch and an hour of resting on the sofa before doing the final errands. I could still do it all before picked the kids up. That was it – my crash. I never recovered my energy, I never did the last two errands. I lay on the sofa all afternoon, dragging myself out to get the kids from school. When my husband came home I said my virus is back please can you cook tea.
I felt truly awful and don’t remember much about that weekend. On Monday I phoned in sick to work and went to the doctors. I saw a locum who said it sounds like a virus, just rest, she did mention viral fatigue and told me if I didn’t feel better by the end of January to come back and they would do some blood tests. I was staggered. The end of January was 3 weeks away, there was no way I could continue feeling like this for three weeks, but guess what ……. At the end of January I saw a different locum who did lots of blood tests.
Memories of this time are vague, time drifted past in a haze of exhaustion. I made sure I got out of bed every morning. I struggled with the simplest of tasks. Getting dressed exhausted me and I had to rest. I stopped trying to have a shower, that was a luxury I did not have energy for. I can remember trying to eat porridge for breakfast and the spoon feeling unbelievably heavy. My husband took the kids to school and the day drifted past. I could not read. I would lie on the sofa with the TV on, unable to focus. I would drag myself to school (in the car) to collect my kids, come home and go straight to bed.
When my blood tests came back as normal as I was given the diagnosis of post viral fatigue and told to rest as much as possible (not easy with 3 kids).
I plan to write more about how I began managing my condition, and what helped me, but right now I want to start writing about food.