Friday, 20 December 2013

Lightning Process, a chronicle

So.  I've just completed the Lightning Process training.  For the last three days, I've been working with a trainer and one other attendee to learn the background to the LP, the process itself, and how and when to apply it.

It's been an interesting few days.  I have definitely seen changes already, and I want to chronicle them here.

After day 1, I couldn't stand the idea of going back to the B&B and holing up for the rest of teh day.  Instead, George and I went for a walk, which was short only because we ran out of village pretty quickly!  We napped, and I woke up with relaxed, calm shoulders and no aches or stiffness in my legs.

Day 2: I didn't need to eat the biscuit with my morning coffee!! This sounds odd, I know, but I have a habit of grabbing every treat I can, because I don't trust life to be good to me.  More walking (exploring Diss!) after training, and a good night's sleep.

Day 3: didn't even think about the biscuit this morning!  In other days, I'd have eaten it, and the one that George didn't want, just because it was there and I *could*.  This was the hardest day of my training; I was dûing some pretty harsh self-doubt regarding my ability to stick to the method.  (Dûing is a concept of the method.  The idea is that we are not passive subjects to afflictions like fatigue, doubt and anger; they are a product of ourselves.  Therefore, it is something we are 'doing'.  However, because it in unintentional and unconscious, we need to distinguish it from intentional action, hence the new word, 'dûing'.  If we are dûing something, we are active participants in teh process- and most importantly, we can stop dûing it!)

I got through day 3 - today - with some pretty intensive coaching, and felt all the better and 'lighter' for it.  George drove us back to his place, and I drove myself home.  The first time I'd driven since starting the course.  And Wow!!  What a difference!  My brain felt clear, light, open and aware.

At home, I've used the process several times already.  I've used it to:
  • decide that wine is not what I really want right now - but I can have some later if I still want (guess what: I don't!);
  • dispel some achy, anxious tension that was building up in my belly and legs;
  • decide that I really was going to put the rest of the dinner I'd cooked in the  fridge, instead of eating more myself;
  • allow myself to have a break mid-way through the washing up, as my back was starting to feel sore.
As part of stopping dûing my self-doubt, I promised myself that I would use the process, putting my needs above the perceived desires of other people if necessary, as much as I need to.  As a reminder, I wrote PROMISE on my left wrist in biro.  Because I'm not back in the office until the New Year, I will keep renewing my PROMISE until it's either well on the way to becoming automatic, or until I have to move my reminder elsewhere for professional reasons!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A corner, turned?

Monday before last, I decided to go alcohol-free for a week.  This had no real bearing on my ME/CFS: it's just something I do from time to time, to make sure I haven't turned into an alcoholic yet.  ;)

More seriously, I do drink pretty much every night.  I don't mean I'm a raving beer-monster; I mean I have a beer, or a glass of wine, with dinner.  Sometimes, on the weekend, J (my other half) and I will have an aperitif before dinner.  I am usually well within the government guidelines on alcohol intake (which are probably more restrictive than I need; safe limits correlate with body mass, and I'm 6ft tall...)

Anyway, it was time for a no-alcohol week.  And I noticed that, as the week went on, I started to feel... good.  I was aware that I was sleeping more shallowly, but my mind felt clearer.  I felt lighter.  Chores felt less insurmountable.  My productivity started to pick up.  I was working hard, and by evening was tired - but not in an 'ill' way.  A good, clean, genuine, all-used-up tired.

I started to have a creeping, dreadful feeling that my increased wellness might be linked to my reduced alcohol intake.  (Oh, conflict!!  On the one hand: a simple measure I can take that might turn my life around.  On the other:  Nooooo!!!  Don't take my beerz!!)

I cut my alcohol-free week short on the Saturday night.  Not because I was gagging for a drink, but because, if my suspicion was correct, I would rather have a sofa-based Sunday than Monday.  Monday is a work day, and I'm horribly (wonderfully!) busy right now.  I drank a thoroughly enjoyable couple of glasses of wine as we watched "Cowboys and Aliens" (which was a much better film than I expected, by-the-by).

Sunday came complete with brain-fog, aching limbs and that dull, nagging, 'slow' feeling.  The wine, perhaps?  Perhaps - but the results are not yet conclusive.  I've also been working to cut out refined sugar from my diet, and Saturday's dinner also included cheesecake.  Oh - and Sunday's breakfast was, basically, bakery cookies.  So I broke the number 1 rule of an exclusion diet, and re-introduced two possible causes at the same time.

For now, I'm happy to be both alcohol and sugar free.  Next weekend, I'll introduce one of the possible culprits, and see how I go.  (My money's on the alcohol.  What that means for all the homebrew kit in my shed is yet to be decided.)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The doctor with a special interest

Early in the new year, I went back up to Peterborough clinic.  Not to see the O/T though, this time.  I had a specialist appointment with their 'doctor with a special interest' in CFS/ME.

He was somewhat horrified that I'd never been diagnosed by a specialist, so we went through a whole pile of questions/symptoms.  I tested out as mild/moderate on pretty much everything except IBS, which I am very happy not to suffer from.  ('Mild' means you have the symptom.  'Moderate' means it becomes worse on exertion, or that you cannot work because of it.  'Severe' means you are housebound or bedbound due to the symptom).

We also went through the long list of supplements that I take daily.  I have to admit: I was really hoping that he would tell me that half of them were useless.  That I could safely stop taking them with no effect on my health.  Unfortunately, he was enthusiastic about most of them, and even suggested another, additional one.  Darnit.  Those supplements are probably my biggest expense outside the mortgage and household bills.

He also suggested other things that I might want to talk to my GP about.  But this post seems long enough, so I'm going to leave it here for now, and come back to it another day.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Nudge, nudge

Quite a few people have nudged me over the last week or two.  "So, you know that other blog you started...?"  Ummm, yeah.  That would be this blog, here, wouldn't it?

I said I wanted this to be a chronicle of my recovery - and I do!  It has to be said, however, that I started writing here in a fit of optimistic enthusiasm, prompted by my first visit to the ME/CFS clinic in Peterborough.  I was determined: it was the start of a new era, a corner turned, the magic bullet was found, and it was going to be improvement after improvement, all the way, from here on in.

Of course, things don't work quite like that.  I've been up and down, just like anyone else.  Christmas was most enjoyable, but hard work - driving 200 miles each way to visit my parents, plus socialising, eating too much, staying up late, getting up late, and generally trying to shoehorn rests in around another family's schedule.  It's probably safe to say that the weeks before Christmas were actually very hard - I know I spent a lot of time on the sofa - and that the recovery from Christmas was slow.

I didn't want my first post back to be a giant whine-vent-whinge session.  And it's not.  But it's not all wine and roses, either.  I'm here.  I've been resting.  Energy levels have been *generally* improving.  But slowly.

And I'll try to post more regularly from now on.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Whoops #1)  Announcing a new blog and twitter account - then not touching them for two whole weeks.
Whoops #2)  Not being strict about the rest schedule at weekends.
Whoops #3)  Travelling to and from Bradford for a full day's conference/training.  It was utterly brilliant and fascinating, but exhausting.
Whoops #4)  Following up the training day with a day's rest, a day's cleaning, then three days of my parents' company in my own home.   (NB I love my parents dearly, and enjoy their company.  It was a wonderful few days, but I overdid things anyway.)

If nothing else, the last week and a half has really brought home the importance of being consistent with the rest and energy regime.  Consistency is not my forte, but I will have to learn it, and make it so, if I really want to improve long term, or I can see that I will simply feel better for a while, then relapse...  feel better for a while, then relapse.

The biggest concern I have with this are the big trade shows I attend for work.  I'm definitely scheduled in for one large one and one smaller next year, with applications in for two more 'biggies'.  Will I be well enough to account for such exceptional events, or am I just shooting myself in the foot?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Warmth and guilt

Today, my work is mostly brain-based, and sitting down.  The heating is on.

Growing up, the mantra was, "Put a(nother) jumper on!".  We used to joke that Dad had the central heating tuned so that he could tell if we turned the radiators on.  I had poor circulation, and felt the cold quite badly, but thanks to this training, became quite used to being a bit chilly.  I would never turn the heating for 'just me' until I became significantly uncomfortable - I felt guilty for wasting the money, wasting energy, destroying the planet.

Here's the thing, though: getting cold is very tiring!  Not only does your body have to do actual work, burning reserves to keep you warm, but your muscles will tense up, too.  Arms, belly, shoulders: all become tight and cramped.  News: that's effort!

A few years ago, a life coach said I should "Aspire to excellence in self-care".  For a start, that blows the 'just me' argument out of the water: I deserve the same comfort I would give to guests - and that includes keeping warm.  So I put the heating on whenever I feel the need.  But that's not all, of course: if you want to keep the thermostat down a notch or two, or if you have no heating, here's a list of my fave chill-busting tactics:
  • Sit under a blanket, with a hot water bottle if you like (pets will often help out here: in this house, you will quickly be joined by a dog if you bring out the blankets).
  • Put down a rug and wear some mitts!  The temperature of your hands and feet is incredibly influential to the way you feel.  I often type wearing fingerless mitts, and if you have laminate floor covering concrete, the chill can strike through even your shoes quite quickly.  (I have been known to bury my feet in the dog's beanbag to keep the tootsies warm).
  • Hot drinks are my constant companion, even now I've kicked the caffeine.  Cayenne pepper tea (a tiny amount, enough to cover your little finger nail, in a mug of boiling water) is a good one if you don't want caffeine/dairy/sugar, and it's warming due to the spiciness as well as the hot water.
  • Eat regularly - keep the internal boiler stoked!
  • Move around if you can, at least occasionally.  OK, you don't really want to leave your nice warm blanket-nest, but keeping your circulation moving will really, truly help.
And if you're still feeling guilty?  I try to remember that this journey is moving towards wellness.  I don't run around like a mad thing and expect to get better, or attempt to lose weight quickly and get better - both those things stress the body out too much for recovery.  Since being too cold is a stress on the body, why should I expect to spend my days feeling chilly - and still get better?  (Besides, being ill is expensive.  We may have the NHS in this country, but you start adding up the costs of lost working days, prescription charges, supplements/alternative remedies, paying for people to do the jobs you can't, extra considerations when travelling or on holiday - it adds up.  Investing a few pennies now in staying warmer is alright in my book).

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One week in.

It's been one whole week now since I saw the occupational therapist.  I'm slowly building a habit of resting three times a day - though I'm not sure I'm always staying awake.  It can be hard to tell, with meditation CDs.

Today I have been unfocussed, itchy-in-the-brain.  I have paid work to do which requires thinking, and I haven't quite managed to get stuck in.  But then, I've been having a rough time recently, so maybe I'm just building up the energy required to do the actual, you know, thinking thing again.  I still have a rough time remembering that thinking requires energy, and that I can deplete myself just by concentrating for too long.