Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Tracking my efforts to beat Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), aka CFIDS, aka CFS

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How ME/CFS puts things into perspective

Ridiculously optimistic, bright-side post # 3

I woke up yesterday morning feeling surprisingly well.  If you don't count the raging sore throat, I'd rate my energy level at about 75%--which, coming in the middle of my latest crash, felt more like 175%.  It was early, about 7AM, which is my favorite time to go at the beach.  The light is at a low angle and the ocean surface is calm and glassy.  In a rare moment (these days) of spontaneity, I proposed that we (my wife, baby, and I) go to the beach.

Up until a certain point, the morning unfolded perfectly.  We had the beach to ourselves and I felt the best I'd felt in weeks.  We filmed my daughter as she crawled across the beach and, for the first time in her life, examined, with great wonder, handfuls of this strange pale powder called sand.

After about an hour of this, I decided that we'd better head for home.  I didn't want to push it.

Back in the car, I put the engine in reverse, looked over my shoulder and began backing the car just like I've done probably 10,000 times in my life.  We suddenly heard the sickening screech of metal on concrete.  I knew instantly what had happened.  I said to myself: "Remember that concrete post you saw near the driver's side fender when you pulled in? The one you told yourself to be careful of? just hit it."

Let me be clear that I was backing up very slowly at the time, so there was no issue of injuries to my family--thank God.  I don't think we even felt the contact so much as heard it.

My wife and I sprung from the car and inspected the damage.  It was as bad as I'd feared: the front left fender and bumper now have 2 foot long gouges; the type of damage that tends to draw people's eyes when they walk or drive past your car.

For the first ten minutes of the aftermath, I acted pretty much as I always would have in this scenario: angry and a little depressed.  In my mind, I broodingly reviewed the sequence of events that led up to the moment of the incident, wondering which details, if changed, would have avoided this outcome.

Before ME/CFS, I'm certain this period of anger would have lasted several days before gradually fading into a sort of resigned acceptance.  But I have a different perspective now.  By the time we reached home 5 minutes later, I'd already made my peace with the incident.  Unconsciously, I'd acknowledged that there are so many things that are so vastly more important that the aesthetics of my silly car.  I simply didn't allow the incident to ruin an otherwise perfect morning.

I doubt I would have been capable of this kind of self-control prior to ME.  It has truly changed my values and changed the way I react to certain situations. In a sense, I think it has matured me by about 30 years in the span of 9 months.


  1. Patrick, I think you are finding the silver lining of ME - that it does open your heart & soul, provoking a profound change in how you look at life, both your life & the lives of others. We all know the saying, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," which I personally hate (been told it way too many times), but there is a deep truth in it.

    Life with ME is challenging, from many different angles - physically, emotionally, mentally. It forces us to re-evaluate what is really important in life, and *who* is important to us, since we have such limited energy to share with others.

    As we get older, and the months become years and then decades (which I'm hoping doesn't happen in your case - I bet you'll be one of the lucky ones to go into remission in the first five years), we have a choice: become bitter at all that the illness has taken from us (our jobs, finances, friends, activities we loved, on & on), or to accept that this is what it is, and relish whatever we can still do.

    You've already made that choice, which is really phenomenol for someone who has been ill such a short time. May you continue to grow and learn...


    PS For some unknown reason this won't let me post as wolfdreams. No idea why...