Humans of ME/CFS
I was 21 when I got sick; I have lived with ME/CFS for 7 years. Thankfully, not all of it has been bad. It has been more like a real rollercoaster ride, with terrifying turns and unexpected twists.
The first 16 months were awful. I came down with a flu-like illness that did not improve over many months. In fact, things got worse after the initial onset of the illness. I developed crippling pain, fatigue, and weakness. I was sensitive to light and sound. I had to give up everything I loved doing. My life became isolated as I gave up work, school, a social life, and my hope of becoming a professional golfer. As my body got weaker, I realized that I was probably never going to be able to compete in golf tournaments again; that was very difficult.
I cannot express in words how difficult that first year or so was, probably because I was so attached to my place in the world. But, then I met a Qigong healer in 2009 who literally changed my life. With her help, I was able to return to 70% health. I began school and pursued competitive golf again. I still had ME/CFS, but it was not confining. I had more limited energy than a healthy person, but I felt fantastic. After 16 months of zero improvement, I could finally relate to all those recovery stories I had read.
Unfortunately, a serious knee injury led to a decline of health again and I developed a more serious case of ME/CFS this time. But, it’s different now. That initial year of being sick was terrible because I did not know how to be me unless I was striving or working at a goal. Now, I am okay with being me. I am happier. My happiness does not rely as much on being healthy or productive. But, my concerns and worries are still there. After my knee injury, I could not walk for 3 years. It has been wonderful to be able to walk again these past 2 years, but I still have very limited energy in my legs.
For the past few months, I have been pursuing a massage certification. It has been fun but enormously challenging. Unless my health improves radically, I will not become a massage therapist, but the experience is rewarding and uplifting. When I was at my sickest, I could not even consider doing massage school. I have a lot to be grateful for. I am sad about some things, but I am more optimistic than anything. The body does not always heal itself, even with the right attitude and health habits. But I am learning to build a healthy life and that is something that the limits of ME/CFS have taught me.