I'm just now starting to get over a bug that I've been battling with for the last 11 days. Looking back over my health chart for this year, it appears that this most recent bug is the 7th to hit me since the beginning of the calendar year. We're in the 9th month. That means I'm averaging one cold/flu bug every 1.2 months. Mind you, this is on top of being regular ME/CFS-sick 100% of the time .... something I've heard referred to as being "sick on top of sick" (SOTOS). Before I got ME/CFS, I typically caught a bug about once or twice a year at most.
Taking a conservative estimate, I'd say the symptoms for each of these illnesses lasted on average about 10 days. That's 70 days of being SOTOS this year ... and we're only mid-way through September. So far, there have been 274 calendar days this year. That means I'm SOTOS 25% of time! One out of every four days! The numbers sound shocking...how could that be? But when I look back on the past 8.5 months, it seems about right.
Whenever I try to explain ME/CFS to someone--which is rarely--I focus on the immune compromising aspect. When I'm finished with this part of the explanation, the other person asks, "so, you get sick a lot." I usually agree, and move on to my next point. But's that's not really the whole story, is it? It's not just the frequency of infections. It's really a triple threat: frequency, duration, and severity.
Regular ol' every day bugs that would have, in the past, barely fazed me, now knock me out of commission. How do I know that these are just regular 'ol every day bugs? Because my healthy wife and daughter get them too. They're hardly affected at all...maybe a little runny nose or a slight cough, but they're no worse for the wear. I, on the other hand, am knocked out with intense flu-like symptoms. Regular colds become elevated to flu-like severity, and flus become a nightmare.
Since getting ME/CFS, I've had sore throats so bad that I'd have never thought such pain in one's throat could have been possible. It's the kind of pain that constantly demands your attention no matter how much you try to distract yourself.
I wonder sometimes if these serial illnesses are preventing me from making more progress toward remission. What if every time I catch one of these bugs, I'm sent back to square one? That's what it feels like sometimes. I wonder, if I could somehow string together enough non-sick days in a row, would I slowly creep back toward regular health?