Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WEGO Post #19: 3 Tips for Caregivers

To celebrate National Health Blog Post Month, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. Today's topic: 3 Pieces of Advice for Caregivers.

That was actually yesterday's topic, but you should be used to my always being behind by now! Besides, this is a timely topic that deserves attention because November is also National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize the unsung heroes in our lives: those who devote themselves to taking care of ill family members or friends. For more information, plus resources like books and websites for caregivers, check out this older post on National Family Caregivers Month from November 2009.

I have unusual insight on this topic because I am not only a chronically ill person who sometimes needs help myself but also a caregiver of my two sons. Thank goodness they are both doing OK at the moment and in school, but they've both had CFS (one mild and one more severe) since 2004, and my older son also has Lyme disease and two other tick-borne infections. So, I have had many years of caring for them when they are in bad shape or crash (my older son has been completely incapacitated at times). Those are difficult times, indeed, when I am sick myself but also needing to take care of them.

So, from first-hand experience, here are my Top 3 Tips for Caregivers:

Take Care of Yourself. It seems obvious, but even for healthy caregivers, it is easy to overlook your own needs when you are so focused on taking care of someone else. If it seems selfish to think of yourself when your loved one is suffering, just remember that you'll be no good to them if you don't take care of yourself and maintain your own health (as much as you can). Eat a healthy diet, get enough rest, exercise if you are able to, and get outdoors as much as possible. Doing these things for yourself makes you a better caregiver.

Connect with Others. It is so important to connect with other people in similar situations and so much easier now with the internet! In a recent post on favorite quotes, I included this one:
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...'.”
          - C.S. Lewis
It is such a powerful feeling when you meet (whether in person or online) someone in the same situation as you, someone who instantly understands the challenges you face. It feels like a huge relief, like a weight being lifted from your shoulders, when you are able to talk to someone else who totally gets it. If you are a parent taking care of a sick child, teen, or young adult, consider joining our Facebook group for Parents (just send me a quick e-mail or leave a comment here or on my Facebook page to let me know who you are - that way I can approve your membership right away without a background check). If you are some other sort of caregiver - a spouse taking care of a sick partner or a child taking care of a sick parent, etc. - then try that blog post from November 2009 - there are plenty of links there for caregivers.

Take a Break. Though similar to #1, Take Care of Yourself, just taking care of yourself on a daily basis isn't enough. You also need to take a break once in a while. Find someone else - a friend or family member, someone from church, a professional caregiver - who can take over your duties for a while, and get out of the house!  Whether it's an hour-long lunch with friends or a weekend away by yourself, getting away from your duties is rejuvenating and will help you to be a calmer, more patient caregiver. A year and a half ago, I had ignored all of this advice for too long, had two sick kids at home, and got to the point where I felt like I was just going to explode. An impromptu weekend away by myself helped immensely. Having no responsibilities and no one to take care of but myself for 24 hours felt life-changing, and I came back a better caregiver for my sons. If you can't manage a weekend (mine didn't cost anything - I stayed at a friend's beach rental in the off-season!), at least get out by yourself once a week or so - not to go to the drugstore or grocery store but to do something just for you. See a movie, go shopping for yourself, have lunch or dinner with friends, go to a museum...whatever fulfills and restores you.

Being a caregiver is a never-ending, challenging, and often thankless job. I hope these tips help to make things easier - and if you are the ill one, then encourage your caregivers to do these things!

Friday, November 15, 2013

WEGO Post #15: 3 Favorite Chronic Illness Blogs

To celebrate National Health Blog Post Month, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. Today's topic: 3 Favorite People to Follow on Social Media. Since I have avoided Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram so far (seems like they would suck up too much energy - I can barely keep up with Facebook and blogs as it is!) I am focusing on my 3 Favorite Chronic Illness Blogs:

Wow, it's hard to pick only 3. I may have to cheat a bit here. I'm going to divide these into two categories: Informational Blogs and Supportive Blogs.

Informational Blogs are those you can count on for the latest information on research, advocacy, and other important, ever-changing topics that I just can't keep up with on my own. In this category, I rely especially on two excellent blogs:

Jennie at Occupy CFS - Jennie was a lawyer in her pre-illness life, and she has a rare talent for distilling complex information into understandable bits. She is an excellent writer and has the ability to report on complicated, even controversial topics with uncommon grace and a lack of bias. Besides, I have met Jennie (she lives near me), and she is a kind and delightful person. I rely heavily on Jennie to sift through all the information and keep me up-to-date.

Research 1st...which I see has just (a few minutes ago) announced its new name and location, Solve CFS Blog - This is the official blog of the CFIDS Association of America which has proven itself over the years to be the #1 resource for keeping up-to-date on research news, as well as other news of interest to those with ME/CFS. I have relied on this website for almost 11 years, ever since my diagnosis, and the blog they started last year has proven very useful in staying current on all the latest news.

Supportive Blogs - these are the personal blogs written by other people with ME/CFS, the ones that are great for honest accounts of what life is really like with chronic illness and for finding emotional support. Here are some of my own personal favorites:

My World, written by Upnorth, a Canadian woman who has had ME/CFS for over 11 years, is a beautifully written blog that often includes nature photos or artwork. Upnorth writes eloquently of the ups and downs of life with this crazy illness and has an upbeat, positive attitude. Although we have never met, she's become a good friend of mine.

Infinite Daze by Baffled - Like many of us with chronic illness blogs, she writes of her own daily struggles, but she also often writes of medical issues, healthy eating, and even some much-needed humor. Another excellent blogger who has been around the blogosphere for many years and has become a good friend.

Mummy and M.E. and MEcuperate by Jennifer Barber - Mummy and M.E. is Jennifer's blog, about being a chronically ill mom of young kids, and MEcuperate is the website she started last year to provide a place for people with ME/CFS to gather - a virtual clubhouse for talking about books, movies, recipes, crafts, and yes, illness, too. I enjoy both the blog and the website, and Jennifer has also become a virtual friend.

OK, so that's 5 in all.  I could just go on and on here - there are so many great blogs out there that I follow! But these are a good sampling of the ones I have followed most closely.

What blogs or other social media resources are your favorites?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WEGO Post #13: How Has Illness Changed You?

To celebrate National Health Blog Post Month, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. Today's topic:
Write about how being a patient or caregiver has changed you. How have your goals changed? Have your values changed?
 Wow, this is a big topic, but I will try not to be too long-winded. The past 11 1/2 years of living with chronic illness have dramatically changed my life. I think their word - evolution - is a good one because for the most part, parts of me that were already present have been enhanced while other parts have faded, in a slow, gradual process of change.

I have always seen myself as strong, capable, independent, and confident, so suddenly finding myself helpless and at the mercy of an unpredictable illness was a severe blow, requiring significant changes to my normal ways of approaching life. Before illness, if I ran into a challenge - sick child, looming deadline, insane travel schedule - I attacked it full-on: push through, do more, sleep less. My life philosophy back in those days was work hard and play hard, though having children definitely began to slow me down a bit. I was also a perfectionist and often put pressure on myself to get it all done and do everything well.

I must admit, those tendencies are still here, under the surface, but I have had to accept that I can not do it all anymore. This has definitely been an evolution, not an overnight change, in slow steps, often one step forward and two steps back. Since I usually operate at about 40-60% (and sometimes even lower) of the energy level and stamina that I had before becoming ill, I have been forced to adjust my expectations for myself. Sure, a part of me still wants to do everything, but I know where my limits are and I work hard to stay within them.

Similarly, I have had to lower my standards - for housecleaning, for cooking, for entertaining, for just about everything. Cleaning is a guaranteed crash, so I just don't even attempt it; I wait for our cleaning service to come every other week (a luxury in the old days but now a necessity) or ask my husband or son to help and often just live with the mess. I do still love to cook and do still have high standards for making tasty and healthy meals, but those meals are simpler these days, as I know I can't spend much time on my feet. In the old days, I would have been horrified at the thought of serving take-out to house guests, but now I know that if we are having visitors, my energy will be especially limited and I need to conserve it however I can. (Coincidentally, my mother called while I was writing this to ask me what I can cook and bring for Thanksgiving dinner! I explained that the 8-hour trip will take all my energy, and I won't be able to do any cooking. She didn't get it, just kept saying what a great cook I am. Sigh...see, in the old days, I would have let her talk me into doing more than I know I can manage, but now, I know that attempting to bake pies the day before a big trip like this would leave me with no energy left for enjoying my family's company. Still evolving...)

I am still very goal-oriented, but the nature of my goals has changed somewhat. I do still have similar writing goals to before I got sick, but I have had to accept a much slower pace of progress. I know I can only manage an hour or so (at most) of productive time per day for writing. Other goals have become simpler, focused on basic self-care: to take a short walk and do at least 10 minutes of gentle yoga a few times a week, to rest when I feel bad, to try to see friends once a week. I do still tend to set too many goals and think I can accomplish more than I can, even though I have adjusted my goals downward constantly.

As for values, I think certain values that were present before have become more prominent through my illness experiences, particularly the importance of family and helping other people. These have always been important to me, but with so many other aspects of my life stripped away, they have taken on a greater emphasis in my life. The experiences of having three of the four of us in our household seriously ill all at the same time changed all of us - we know that those ties that bind us together can never be broken, that we will always be here for each other, and that together, we can face any challenge.

Experiencing severe illness together has left our family more resilient and more accepting of the normal ups and downs in any life. We know we need to roll with the punches and take things one day at a time, so when something bad happens (like last week, when our college-aged son came home very ill), we tend to take it more in stride. Learning first-hand that you have little control over your own life is a hard lesson, but it tends to allow you to handle the bad stuff more readily.

Our experiences have also made all of us more empathetic. It has always been important to me to help others and to feel like I am doing something valuable - that turned out to be my strongest "career anchor" back at the beginning of my engineering career (we had to take all sorts of quizzes on career anchors!). Since becoming ill, though, helping others has become a significant part of my life. When our kids got sick and we eventually found treatments that helped him get back to school, helping others became even more important. Somehow, helping others makes our own difficult experiences feel more worthwhile.

Well, I have babbled on for too long, I think. How about you? How has illness changed you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Movie Tuesday 11/12

Too much to do yesterday with both boys at home and too achy to blog in the evening, so Movie Monday is a day late this week. I didn't want to skip it, though, because we watched a lot of movies last week!

My oldest son is home from college in a major crash. Unfortunately, it is likely that he has mono (still waiting for the blood test results), so this could last a while. He had a very rough week and was understandably upset over having to leave school and all that he's missing, so we watched a LOT of TV and movies together to cheer him up. With two teen sons at home and my husband, we watched a lot of action movies in particular (though hang in for the last and best one below if you're not a fan of action). Although they were all good movies and interesting, I have seen enough fighting, shooting, and blood to last me a lifetime this week! Anyone want to join me in a chick flick? Please?

Friday night, we watched Parker, a crime caper movie starring Jason Statham (who we loved in The Italian Job) as a criminal with a conscience named Parker. He will only steal from those who can afford it and never kills an innocent person. Yes, high standards, indeed! Nick Nolte stars as an old thief (and father of Parker's girlfriend) who sets Parker up with a crew for a major heist at the Ohio State Fair. Parker makes his rules clear to the crew, but something goes wrong, and an innocent bystander dies. The crew fights afterward over the outcome and how to split the take, and the four men leave Parker for dead by the side of the road. Parker is not, of course, dead, and makes it his goal to get revenge on the four remaining crew members. He moves to West Palm Beach where they are busy planning their next heist, and enlists the help of novice real estate agent Leslie, played by Jennifer Lopez. The plot is great and the acting is good, but be warned that this is a very violent movie! Lots of guns, knives, and blood and lots of f-words.

Along similar lines, the next night we watched Olympus Has Fallen, another movie with a great cast, intriguing plot, and lots of violence. Aaron Eckhart plays the President of the US, Ashley Judd is the First Lady, and Gerard Butler plays a Secret Service Agent who used to protect the first family but was moved to a desk job. Terrorists take over the White House and take the President and several from his cabinet hostage. Morgan Freeman plays the Speaker of the House, who has to take charge with so many of the leaders kidnapped. As you can see, this is an all-star cast, and they all do a magnificent job with this tense thriller. The details of the terrorist attack, surrounding politics, and possible solutions are absolutely fascinating, prompting lots of thoughts of What If. But, like Parker, this is a very violent movie, with lots of guns and lots of blood. The terrorists are ruthless and leave a lot of civilians and White House staff dead on their way to capture the President. So, it's an excellent movie, but don't say I didn't warn you, if you don't like violence or can't handle movie tension.

Sunday night, we browsed through the free movies on Amazon and ended up watching Equilibrium, a dystopian sci fi thriller that...guess what? Yup, it turned out to be very violent. Less blood this time but lots of guns and shooting. In this bleak future after World War 3, a frightening leader has ensured ongoing peace by outlawing emotion. Citizens are required to inject themselves with a pharmaceutical cocktail every day that suppresses all emotion. In addition, anything that might cause someone to feel something - art, music, books, and apparently most colors other than gray - have also been outlawed. Christian Bale stars as Preston, a Grammaton, one of the elite police force who seek out and destroy contraband and "Sense Offenders" (his partner is played by Taye Diggs). One day, Preston drops his dose of meds and gets a glimpse of what he's been missing. The plot is unique and engrossing, but again, skip this one if you don't like violence.

And finally, last night, we watched a completely peaceful movie without a single gunshot or drop of blood! Another freebie on Amazon Prime, Robot & Frank is a movie I've been wanting to see for a long time, and all four of us enjoyed it immensely. Frank, played fabulously by Frank Langella, is a retired cat burglar struggling with the beginnings of dementia in the near future. He lives on his own in a small house in rural New York state. His son comes to visit once a week, grudgingly, and his daughter is always calling from exotic places to say hello, but otherwise, he is on his own. When he sees that his Dad's memory is getting worse, his son brings Frank a robot caretaker to watch over his health and keep him safe. Resistant at first, Frank comes to see the robot as a friend, and finds a new purpose in his life in teaching his new friend his burglary skills. Also starring Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, and James Marsden, this movie is wonderful - warm, tender, and funny. And, I so want my own robot now! They could revolutionize life for the chronically ill.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

Monday, November 11, 2013

WEGO Post #11: How My Daily Nap Saves Me

To celebrate National Health Blog Post Month, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. Today's topic:

Veteran’s Day
For all our veterans and family members, we celebrate this day because it marks the end of WWI, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. Do you have a task you complete every day at the same time that helps you with your chronic illness? How long have you been doing this, how has it helped?

Something I do every day at the same time that helps my illness? Easy. That has to be my daily nap.

When I first learned about CFS and saw the CDC's information about it online, I went to the library, sat down in the health area, and looked for books that might tell me more. I found two books and brought them home: Dr. Bell's fabulous The Doctor's Guide to CFS: Understanding, Treating and Living with CFIDS and a memoir/nonfiction book called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Comprehensive Guide to Symptoms, Treatments, and Solving the Practical Problems of CFS by Gregg Charles Fisher. Both books blew my mind (for the first time in a year of illness, I was reading about a condition that exactly matched my own experience), but Fisher's book brought me to tears.

As I read about Fisher's experiences (he and his wife both got ME/CFS at the same time and were severely disabled by it), I sobbed on my couch - every bit of it was so familiar to me. This was the first time I learned about the exercise intolerance inherent in ME/CFS and understood why I kept crashing. Fisher explained something else in his book that changed my life - the concept of proactive rest. He explained how people with CFS need to rest before we feel like we need it, how we need to bank rest ahead of time, and how a habit of proactive rest can help us to feel better all the time.

I have been taking Fisher's advice for the past 10 years. I take a nap every day after lunch, no matter what else is going on in my life, and it helps me cope better with my limitations every day. Without that nap, I am a wreck by 4 pm and useless in the evening. With the nap, I can usually manage to make dinner for my family and enjoy their company. Occasionally, I can even manage to go out in the evening with friends. On a really bad day, I take two naps - one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Sure, it kind of sucks to live my life according to a toddler's schedule - I never schedule anything in the afternoon because I know it's the time of day when I feel my worst - but the alternative (crashing every day by dinnertime) is much worse. I even take that nap when we are traveling in the car (eye mask, ear plugs, and a pillow help) or when we are away from home.

My nap does not interfere with my nighttime sleep; in fact, I sleep much worse when I am over-tired from not resting. It took some practice to get into a routine where I fall asleep every day, but now it is a habit. To help fall asleep at nap time, I take 2-3 Valerian tablets (a mild herbal sedative, like chamomile, that wears off quickly for me), put on warm socks (I read a study where warm feet help you fall asleep quicker and it's true!), make my room as dark as possible, and read for about 15 minutes. I usually sleep between 45 - 90 minutes every afternoon.

So, that's my daily habit - what routine helps you to feel better?

(Although Dr. Bell's book is still fabulous, it is a bit out of date, but I was happy to see that Fisher's book has been updated and is even available on the Kindle now).


Saturday, November 09, 2013

WEGO Post #8: Favorite Quotes

To celebrate National Health Blog Post Month, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. Today's topic is 3 Favorite Quotes.

This is an easy one for me! I discovered these first two quotes in my first year of illness, and they have provided a lot of support and comfort over the years:
"You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
          - E.L. Doctorow
I think I actually found this one on a bottle of Jones soda! And I have since learned that Doctorow was talking about writing, but none of that matters. This quote is perfect for a life with chronic illness and learning to live one day at a time, sometimes just one moment at a time. We are relearning that lesson this week.
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"
          - Mary Anne Radmacher
I came across this one in a catalog on a plaque and started sobbing! It was just what I needed to hear at that time. I printed a picture of the plaque and kept it in my bathroom, where I have re-read it at the end of many bad days. This really gave me strength - to understand that sometimes the best we can do - the most we can do - is just to wake up the next morning and do our best again.

And finally:
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...'.”
          - C.S. Lewis 
This one perfectly describes the many friendships I have made online, with people I've never met in person but feel very close to (I can see my son rolling his eyes!). One of those friends, Annie, is co-administrator with me of a Facebook group I started for Parents whose children have ME/CFS and related illnesses. Annie added this quote to our group description, and it describes exactly how we all feel about each other and the group. Same with people I have gotten to know through blogging and through other illness-related Facebook groups. There is such power in those shared experiences; no one else in the world can truly understand what we live with and what our daily lives are like.

So, those are my three favorite quotes - do you have any?

(P.S. If you have a sick child/teen/young adult and want to join the Facebook parents' group, please leave me a comment, e-mail, or message on Facebook or on my Facebook page for this blog - it'll save a lot of time doing a background check if I know you legitimately belong when I see your member request).

Thursday, November 07, 2013

WEGO Post #6: Mary Poppins Carpet Bag

Did you know that November is National Health Blog Post Month? No? I didn't, either. To celebrate, WEGO Health is hosting a 30 Days, 30 Posts Challenge for health-related bloggers. Each day, they have a different topic for a short blog post, with a Facebook page for posting links. I thought I'd try participating as much as I can manage.

So, I am jumping in at Day 7 - today's topic is Mary Poppins Carpet Bag: what do you carry in your purse/bag/backpack?

First and foremost, I never go anywhere without food and my water bottle! My bottle doesn't actually fit in my purse but I always carry it, and there are always little snacks in my purse in case I go too long between meals and hypoglycemia hits! My water bottle contains lots of ice (I like my water icy cold, even in winter), water, and lately, a quarter teaspoon of Elete, an electrolyte solution (the extra salt helps keep me upright). For food, I often have a mini baggie with a handful of almonds or peanuts or cashews. Sometimes I also have a granola bar, though most of those contain dairy and/or are high in sugar. I love KIND bars, but they are 200 calories each, so I only indulge in them rarely.

I also carry a wide range of medications and supplements - the zipper pocket in my purse is full! There is a baggie of ibuprofen, a baggie of Valerian (in case I need to take a nap in the car), Sudafed and aspirin in case of headache, Immodium, Gas-X, and lots of Lact-Aid.

Oh, and I always carry with me copies of medication lists for myself and each of my sons. My older son and I each have a list that is a full page long, showing all medications and supplements. It is in table format, with columns for Medication, Strength, Dosing (i.e. time of day and number of times per day), Reason, and for Social Security, I had to add Start Date and Prescribing Doctor. I wish I could include a copy here, but I don't know how to do that! I carry these with me in case of emergency, but they are also VERY useful when one of us sees a new doctor - there's no way I could write all these down every time! I just attach the list to the forms and print a new one when I get home.

Otherwise, it's the normal stuff in my purse - my wallet, sunglasses, phone, lip balm, and lately, reading glasses.

How about you, Mary Poppins? What do you carry with you?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Change of Scenery

The beach is so peaceful and relaxing.
 Sometimes a change of scenery can do wonders!

As most of you know, I've been going through a bad period this past month, and last week was just as bad. Friday I pretty much hit bottom - severe sore throat, horrible aches, exhaustion. I did something I rarely do and stayed in my pajamas in bed all day. By afternoon, my mood matched my physical condition - all of these down days finally got to me, and I was feeling pretty depressed.

I dragged my chair out onto our sunny deck, laid in the sunshine, and watched some inspirational TED talks - that often helps, and it did this time, too.

Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk
Things began to turn around in the evening. I started to feel just a bit better, our son got invited away for the weekend, and my husband and I suddenly had a weekend alone in front of us. We've been trying to get away together for a long time - over a year! - so we made a snap decision to just get out of town. Of course, we had no reservations, and it was too late to use the Bed & Breakfast gift card my mom gave us for Christmas last year. So, we made a quick reservation at our favorite inexpensive hotel at the beach (Rehoboth Beach here in Delaware) - just making that reservation lifted my spirits!

Enjoying a relaxing breakfast
Saturday morning, I was still somewhat achy but definitely feeling better. We packed a quick overnight bag - well, actually, it wasn't that simple, as you probably know - we CFSer's do not travel light! I packed an overnight bag, all my medications, just-in-case medications, my own pillow and blanket in case I needed to sleep in the car, etc. By 12:30 pm, we were at the beach and on vacation! It was such a great feeling just to be away and on our own, with no responsibilities! For me, just being out of the house was a huge relief.

A short walk on the beach.
We had a wonderful 24-hour getaway together. We took a short walk on the beach (I wore my heart rate monitor, of course), ate at our favorite restaurants, splurged on fudge and homemade donuts, watched episodes of The Good Wife on my laptop in bed, and even managed a tiny bit of shopping at our two favorite stores there - a bookstore and a retro toy store. I still wasn't quite feeling up to my normal baseline, but I felt pretty good and managed quite well. It's that Vacation Paradox again - I can handle a lot more activity on vacation because there are no stress or obligations to use up my limited energy.

I had a brief crash again Monday afternoon and evening and thought I was in for another bad week, but today was better - not great, but OK. My college-aged son is not faring so well this week - for the first time in over a year of college, he had to come home last night to rest because he felt so horrible. He's got a severe sore throat, swollen glands, and some congestion, so I fear he may be starting what I went through a few weeks ago. Hopefully, he will rebound more quickly than I did because he can't afford to miss a lot of school. For now, I am giving him extra immune system meds and supplements, feeding him his favorite foods, and trying to take care of him.

The weekend away refreshed me - I feel like I am starting fresh this week! 

A beautiful day at the beach...though a bit chilly!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Still Down and Out

I had all sorts of plans for informative posts this week but have had another looooong week of being crashed and feeling awful every day.

I did have a few good days last week but otherwise have been down and out for almost a month now. No idea what's up this week but the immune symptoms are through the roof (sore throat, horrible flu-like aches) even with my Imunovir.

So, just wanted to stop in quickly to let you know I am still here...and still not up to much writing.

I am getting frustrated by the lack of progress and the fact that I have no idea why I'm crashed now. At least the past few weeks I knew I'd been exposed to a virus and developed bronchitis.

Also frustrated because I keep making plans and then having to cancel them.

Can I have a brief whine?  I want to take a walk! I want to go to the store when I need to! I want to make weekend plans with my husband! I want to have fun with my kids! I want to go out with my friends!

OK, I feel a little I'm taking a cup of herbal tea and going back to bed to read. This is the first time in YEARS that I just stayed in my pajamas this morning - couldn't face a shower or getting dressed. Hopefully, I will perk up soon and get back to my usual routine.