Enter your email address here if you want to follow Foggy via email

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Payback Causes Us to Micro-Manage Our Energy!


In my video yesterday, I mentioned that I was delivering a Foggy-related social enterprise talk last night and that I was having to rest to make sure I was up to it. However, THIS happened.

This is in no way a negative comment about the event, the organisers had done everything they could do to ensure attendance. It was just one of those things. That didn't help me to manage my energy levels though.

I was contacted last Friday via LinkedIn and asked if I would like to talk at an event that was organised for students who were interested in social enterprises.  It was a bit last minute, but I saw it as a way for Foggy to reach people who wouldn't usually be within my reach. So I said yes. I already have an immense workload that I am struggling to manage (I can work 3-5 hours per day, depending) but felt it was worth my while.

I have been creating the slides and prompt cards (essential when you have poor memory/concentration) over the weekend in slow time. I knew I would have to preserve valuable energy as the talk was to be held between 6-8pm (I was one of 3 speakers). I knew just the act of
sitting and listening/participating would take its toll on my M.E. So I was trying to be careful! Then I realised the Parliament debate was also happening yesterday. My plans of resting as much as possible went out of the window. I managed to grab an hours sleep yesterday afternoon and hoped that would be enough to 'recharge' myself as much as possible.

I got showered, dressed, got my stuff together ready to head off. I had an incredibly hot face, usually a sign that my symptoms were beginning to flare, but headed out to the venue. I got there 15 minutes early (military family upbringing....need I say more?!), met the organiser, took a seat and waited for people to start arriving. 25 minutes later, 3 people had arrived.

This is when my brain started to consider whether GUARANTEED payback would be worth it for the sake of 3 people. Business people I know say you should always deliver the talk regardless of how many people are in the room. Those attendees have made the effort to come and hear you speak. True.  However, I know that I will be feeling really.....really...unwell tomorrow because of exerting myself on Tuesday evening, for the sake of 3 people and a poorly attended 2 hour event. Deliberately making myself feel like poo would have been worth it if I could have reached a minimum of 15 people (as expected) but I took the decision to leave. I hadn't left them in the lurch as there were 2 other speakers who stayed and were happy to sit and chat informally to the students who had attended (WOW - imagine how that would have wiped me out!? 2 hours of conversation). I felt really guilty though. 

This is just one example of how we have to carefully consider what to spend our precious life-resource (energy) on. Two days after exertion, will we kick ourselves with the realisation that we should have not gone to the party, gone grocery shopping, met up with friends, delivered a talk, as it was not worth the sheer rubbish-ness that came with it? I will have payback tomorrow, I know I will. But, it will be less than it would have been if I had stayed until 8pm. Good decision.


and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY) xx

Friday, 16 February 2018

Cause and Prognosis


I have been made aware today that some people believe the cause of M.E is known and that sufferers know what their prognosis is. I disagree. This blog will explain and clarify my standpoint.

I believe that a bout of Labyrinthitis (ear infection) was the trigger for my latest bout of M.E. However, it was not the cause of the illness. We don't yet know why one person, let's call her Sarah, gets Labyrinthitis, is laid low for 6 weeks but then gets back to life as normal with no repercussions. But another person, let's call her Tracey, has Labyrinthitis for 6 weeks, is well for a week but then
gets ill....very ill (as happened to me). Tracey's simple ear infection had triggered a debilitating chronic illness. Until we know the reason behind the two different outcomes, we don't know the cause of M.E. I run with the notion that there is something dormant within us, perhaps in our DNA or gut, that is activated/triggered by a virus, trauma, etc. But researchers have not established what that 'thing' is yet.

At the beginning of this blog, I wrote 'my latest bout' - this is my second bout of M.E. I had (undiagnosed) M.E in my teenage years. I became ill virtually overnight (we have never worked out what the trigger was) and it left just as quickly 2 years later. It is due to my first bout that I believe many of us don't have a prognosis. I have no idea if this second bout is lifelong or if it will vanish as quickly as the first bout many years ago. It's a mystery! 

This is what the M.E Association say about prognosis - www.meassociation.org.uk

What are the chances of recovering from ME/CFS?
Most people with ME/CFS fall into one of four broad groups:
  • Those who manage to return to normal health, or near normal health, even though this may take a considerable period of time.
  • The majority who make some degree of improvement but eventually tend to stabilise. They then follow a fluctuating pattern with both good and bad periods of health. Relapses or exacerbations are often precipitated by infections, operations, temperature extremes or stressful events.
  • A significant minority of patients remain severely affected and may require a great deal of practical and social support.
  • Continued deterioration is unusual in ME/CFS. When this occurs, a detailed medical re-assessment is advisable to rule out other possible diagnoses.
Using the above as a guide, I have no idea if I am in the first or second group. I may get better or I may not. I am now 11 years into this second bout with no signs of getting better. Symptoms are ebbing and flowing, some have improved whilst others have got slightly worse. My cognitive function has deteriorated over the past 6 months. I am hoping it is just temporary. I have spoken to a few other sufferers who are experiencing the same fluctuation in cognitive function so I know I am not alone in that.

It is true that severe M.E sufferers have a greater sense of prognosis (see group 3) but mild/moderate sufferers like myself don't have any idea of what is in store for us. We have no idea if our, occasional, slightly improved health means we are 'recovering' or if it is simply a fluctuation. 

I hope that clears that up and, despite a few followers disagreeing with me, I will continue to promote that we do not know the cause or our prognosis, until I see definitive proof to the contrary.


and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY) xxx

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Family Ties


This post is considering whether M.E can run in families. I was unable to find anything on the M.E Association website but found this link from meresearch.org Does M.E/CFS run in families?

Anyone who has watched Unrest has seen that different generations of the same family can be struck down with M.E. Personally, I know a number of families that have two generations with the illness. It is hard to know whether it is due to genetics or probability, given the high number of sufferers in the UK/worldwide.

For years, it has been a running joke in my family that I have inherited all of the bad bits from my parents. My Dad has stretchy skin (Hypermobility Syndrome - without the pain), various allergies that have appeared over time, and in later life, has developed digestive issues (I.B.S/Colitis) and my
My family xx
Mum has suffered from migraines and light sensitivity for decades. It will always be a mystery as to whether the combination of their health conditions has lead to my M.E diagnosis. There doesn't seem to have been a recognisable chronological order as ailments have appeared out of nowhere with no identifiable cause.

I have had conversations with parents who blame themselves for their child's health problems; not just M.E, other illnesses too. Which, as I have said to them, is ridiculous and their child's illness was entirely unpreventable. It is simply how things have evolved and presented themselves. 

Something I have been struck by is how sometimes the child gets M.E first and the parent gets diagnosed decades later. Does that strike anyone else as odd? I have personally met these families and their circumstances make no sense to me in terms of chronological order. Does it worry me that my parents could get M.E? Yes, yes it does. Especially as each month brings new health issues that may or may not be M.E related - fatigue, memory, word finding problems etc. It could just be ageing but it could also be something more sinister. I am definitely keeping an eye on my parents....just in case.

Love Sally,

and Foggy OBVIOUSLY xxxx

Don't forget to donate! You can donate to Foggy's Fund via mefoggydog.org. Thanks x

Monday, 29 January 2018

M.E: Shame


Let's talk about money. Yes, the one thing most people avoid talking about.

I talk openly and honestly about all aspects of M.E and it's knock on repercussions but have never fully addressed this aspect of having a chronic illness. So, here goes.

This blog is inspired by THIS YouTube video by Sophie Eggleton. It was posted back in 2015; I have only just discovered Sophie's YouTube channel. I agree with everything Sophie says in the video but here is my own spin on the subject.

I have no money. There, I said it. Since leaving full time employment back in 2016, I have only had the brain power and energy to earn drips and drabs of cash. Just enough to pay my bills each month. If it wasn't for the Bank of Mum and Dad, my situation would be even more dire than it is now. I am so grateful to them for the occasional bailout when an unexpected bill comes in. For 2 years, I have been too embarrassed to talk about my money problems, I have only confided in a couple of close friends. These are friends who, whilst not having M.E, are in similar financial situations for various reasons. 

I am 41 and live with my parents. I hate having to admit that when it crops up in conversation. I am very lucky that I get on with my parents and am very grateful for the roof over my head. My shame comes from my hopes and dreams of my childhood. Never would I have dreamed that I would be living in my parent's house at the grand old age of 41, childless (I never wanted any) and a spinster (ouch). My parents, like Sophie's, are retired. They should be able to enjoy their hard-earned time together without having an extra mouth to feed. I simply can't earn enough money to be able to afford my own place. I
don't have a boyfriend/husband to share bills with. House prices in Portsmouth are very expensive and, even without M.E, an average solo income would struggle to pay for housing and bills. Add M.E into the mix and it is a dire situation to be in. I own my own business (www.wordsangel.co.uk - shameless plug!), it's still relatively new and still building. It is ticking over nicely and growing steadily. However, I am unable to put in the necessary 18 hour days to build it as much as I would like. Every time I go business networking I feel exhausted just listening to tales of breakfast networking, driving to conferences, working lunches, and evening networking sessions (that is all done on top of a working day). Most self-employed people don't stop. Many would argue that working so hard is bad for health and well-being. True. However, it is necessary if you are a start-up business with one pair of hands and one brain.  Self-employment allows my body to work in tune with my in-tray. I can set my own hours and work from my bed if necessary. It allows me to make the best of a bad situation.

When I walked away from Uni with a postgraduate degree, the world was my oyster. I am an ambitious person and believed that I would get myself a good job, save cash and work towards getting my own place and build a stable future for myself. M.E has completely stopped that from happening. I can't hold down a full time job because my energy levels won't allow it. Even part-time hours won't work as the hours don't fluctuate along with my energy levels and symptom flare ups. The pressure and guilt I place upon myself is immense. I always feel as if I have to justify my life and make excuses because people don't understand my illness and subsequently, my situation.

Social media doesn't help. I am sick and tired of looking scrolling through posts of friends who are buying houses, buying furniture for their new houses, getting excited about their upcoming holidays, etc. I keep comparing myself to fit and healthy people who are able to work hard and reap the benefits of putting in long days at work. I wish I could be one of those people. Instead, I regularly have to explain why I  am in bed having a nap while they are at work slaving away to afford their lifestyle. 

Maybe I/we need to stop feeling ashamed of our financial situation. We are skint, not because of laziness or poor money management, but because of a disability. We are making the best of circumstances that are out of our control. We should be proud of what we manage to do on a daily basis despite having a life-altering illness. Maybe one day, I'll allow myself to believe that and stop beating myself up.


and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)

Don't forget to donate - Foggy's Fund - Thank you xxx

Monday, 22 January 2018

Cervical Cancer Awareness Week


I commented on this article earlier on Twitter. It's Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (in the UK) this week and there are many posts and articles online talking about cervical smears. Unfortunately, my tweet caused a few people to use it as an excuse to throw negativity at me so I have deleted the tweet. I don't respond to negativity. I figured I would write a blog instead to explain my view.

1 in 4 women in the UK are not having regular smear tests due to having a poor body image. I don't have a very good body image myself and a nurse friend once called me body dysmorphic (I think I'm bigger than I am/unattractive). So, I completely understand that smear tests would cause girls/women to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.

However, millions, if not billions, of pounds have been spent on cancer research to reach the point of being able to offer free tests to diagnose this disease and to know how to fight it. To have that resource available but it not being used to its full capability is crazy. What will happen if/when these girls and women want to have children or need to be tested for an STI? All involve doctors and nurses being in that particular area of a woman's body. A sexual organ is the same as a big toe to medical professionals. They don't see it in the same way as we do.

To flip my argument around to an M.E perspective. Hands up M.E peeps who wouldn't mind (yes, we'd cringe and squirm but...) a rectal exam or cervical investigation if it would lead to a diagnosis or treatment? I would do ANYTHING if it would lead to being 'fixed'. I know I'm not alone in that. I think this article highlights the difference between 'healthy' people and their views on health checks (to prevent them from getting sick) and chronically ill people who would do anything to get better.

I hope I've made my point clear, I don't mean to guilt trip anyone. It is YOUR choice whether to have the test but it's a wasted opportunity if you let embarrassment stop you from attending your free appointment.


Sally xx

(brain fog has kicked in so sorry if my writing is a bit blah)

Thursday, 11 January 2018

What's Happening Now?!


I wrote this blog in 2016 (was it really that long ago?!) and I seem to be in exactly the same situation. I am recovering from another broken foot/toe and my eyes are playing up AGAIN. My double vision started again 3 months ago, it's sporadic and so I haven't really thought much about it but it's been bugging me today, hence the blog.

As I said in my 2010 blog, the Emergency Eye Department (EED)told me my eye problems were caused by Propranolol and/or my M.E. They said that M.E caused muscles to work slowly and maybe the Propranolol side effect of 'weak muscles' was making the issue more noticeable. I came off the
Propranolol soon after and I noticed that the double vision and related eye problems slowly stopped.

I remember speaking to some Foggy friends about eye problems at Foggy's launch party. They also suffer from issues of double vision and achey eyes. They weren't taking Propranolol. We all said that we had never heard of M.E affecting eye muscles before, it was a definite...eye-opener (sorry!).

I haven't worked out a pattern yet. I'm not sure why I have double vision on some days but not others. It's not specifically when I am extra tired or lethargic. Sometimes it's when I wake up, other times I may have just rested/closed my eyes for a slow blink. I get the same double vision though. I agree with the EED, I think it is caused by weak eye muscles and my eyes are taking longer than they should to focus when I open my eyes.

I wear contact lenses. I used to wear them 24/7 but I had a stupid accident about 14 years ago. It involved a cup of boiling water, a flight of stairs, PJ bottoms being too long, and having severe burns to my entire face, including my eyes (I've said before that I'm ridiculously clumsy...right?!). Subsequently, I have very dry eyes. I have been told I can wear lenses but not for longer than 4 hours at a time. I also tend to stick to glasses as they have tinted lenses. But, on very rare nights out my vanity comes out and the contact lenses come out to play. Anyway, about 3 months ago, I noticed that on one of my eyes, the contact lens no longer fits properly. It doesn't 'stick' as it should. It's as if the shape of my eye has changed, so much so the lens doesn't lay flat against my eyeball. Opticians measure the shape and contour of eyes during contact lens checks and so it's obviously a 'thing'. So, I have booked myself in for an eye test. I have eye conditions in my family history (Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration) and so eye stuff is slightly worrying. It just seems weird that these 2 eye problems have happened at the same time.

I know I always say it but I think this shows that M.E affects every single part of the body! Muscles make stuff move and so it's hardly a surprise!


and Foggy (obviously)

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Change for the Better...Hopefully


I am attempting to come off anti-depressants! This will be my fourth attempt in 5 years but I am hoping I will be successful this time. Every time I try, something traumatic or very stressful happens and my mood dips/depression flares significantly.

I have written before about a conversation I had with my GP years ago when he first prescribed a low dose of Fluoxetine. I had noticed that fatigue was a common side effect according to the info leaflet. I was concerned that it would add to my already overwhelming fatigue. He said (paraphrasing) 'What's better? Suicidal thoughts or bit of extra fatigue?' I got his point but still...more fatigue?! I was barely
existing at that point and was only living to work, eat and sleep. 

I have noticed a marked decrease in my energy levels since starting anti-depressants and that is my main reason for wanting to stop taking them. I also think it is a good idea to come off and see if I even need to be on them now. I have been slowly coming off them over the past 6 weeks or so. My plan was to get more sunshine, exercise (we are talking extra 2 minutes a day...not joining a gym!) and to do more mindfulness to reduce anxiety. I am doing as many non-medicinal things as possible to make sure I can stay off tablets. Unfortunately, breaking my toe hasn't helped, if anything, being even more immobile has added to my anxiety. I am hopeful that, once I can get around independently again, my action plan will work!

Anti-depressants helped me through some very bad times (assault, cancer, bereavements, bullying - what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right?!) but I now want to see if I can use alternatives just as effectively. 

Wish me luck!

Sally xx