Tag Archives: medication

Oh how I hate nights!!


They say that no matter what sort of disease or illness you have, nighttime is the worst time. You feel worse, suffer more, and daytime is so damn far away…

I’m currently feeling the worst pain I have ever been in since this journey (over a pothole filled road with boulders and lava to negotiate around) began.

It’s probably subjective because I have almost got myself off the drug that actually made me feel barely human. Unfortunately we discovered that it was also making a meal of my brain and would send me into dementia within ten years.

Yes I did pause, briefly, to decide what would be worse. What I had before was the worse pain in my life, but then I kind of enjoy my brain. Plus there is no way I could put my wife through that slow slide into dementia, something only evil could conceive of.

So here I am, struggling through horrid nights. I’m afraid to go to sleep these days because I know I’m going to wake up like this, just before my next dose of painkillers.

By the way my painkillers are addictive and their overuse is something like the third or fourth highest killer of people in the US. Don’t big pharmaceutical companies make safe drugs anymore?? It’s almost like they want you to suffer side affects so you have to buy more drugs to fix them as well.

But I’ll fix them! I’m on a very low and safe dose of painkillers and, as I said earlier, the other painkiller and energy/lifegiving drug I’m almost rid of.

So just me and my pain. I’ve got those pharmaceutical companies beat! I just take extremely low doses or get off them completely! Ha! Didn’t see that coming did you!!

Of course there is the massive pain to deal with, but every fight has casualties.

I just wish I wasn’t one of them.

Hallucinations…and definitely NOT the good kind!


I have been waiting (and suffering) for two years in chronic full body pain, so have tried many, many different painkillers.

Unfortunately most of them (perhaps all) have been opioid based, meaning they are incredibly addictive. And they all come with potentially wicked side effects. In fact overdosing on opioids is in the top five killers in the US, so you would think it would be a method of last resort.

Nope.

But hey, I didn’t care as long as they worked! I much prefer to be addicted on a low dose than live the rest of my life in full body pain, every waking moment. It gets to you after a while.

Then finally I was introduced to Endep. Not only did it help with the pain but it gave me a bit more energy as well. Bonus!

One of the (many) side effects of Endep is liver damage, so I had mine tested after three months. I went to my doctor to find out the results, very anxious because these drugs had made an actual difference to my life.

Good news! No signs of liver damage!

Then we discussed a few more symptoms I had been having, and my doctor started to look concerned. Never a good sign.

Apparently the minor hallucinations and forgetfulness I was experiencing was a direct result of the Endep. Some hallucinations can be fun, but I can assure you these were not.

Apparently I could keep taking these wonderful drugs but I would have dementia within ten years. I had a choice of course; simply stop taking them, which meant all my pain would return plus my bit of energy would disappear.

After crying like a baby on my way home I realised I really only had one choice. So, back to pain and no energy for me.

Each time I reduce the dose, more of the pain returns. I have now cut back to half of what I was taking and the energy it had given me has completely gone.

Apparently canabis oil is very effective for people like me and it is impossible to become addicted.

Yes please! Sign me up!

Not that easy, as government red tape never is.

Not only do I have to find a specialist doctor who treats patients with pain and who is happy to write a letter endorsing me for a trial of CBD oil (and most doctors admit they don’t know enough about canabis oil to prescribe it, or are totally against it because they think it is addictive. It’s not, because it contains no THC which is the bit that gives you a high), then my regular doctor has to fill in forms and wait.

In the meantime I suffer in pain.

If I am fortunate enough for someone in the health beaurocracy to agree with my doctors, I am allowed to get a massive two months worth. Wow. Considering it takes medication a while to show any benefit this is cutting it fine to say the least.

Of course I can extend my trial beyond two months but that requires a whole stack of forms to be submitted and is not as likely to pass inspection.

So, yes the oil is available as per Federal government announcements, but only if I jump through twisted hoops and am lucky enough to pass.

This would mean being on the CBD oil for two months, then off it to see if my extension is approved, then go back on it and hope.

I might get used to the pain, but I will never get used to governments pretending they know what is best for me, and certainly better than my doctor whom I have been seeing for nearly two years now. It seems there are rules, regulations and red tape around anything that might be good for us. At least that is the impression we are given and most of the facts confirm it.

How lucky I am that my Federal government is looking after me, otherwise I might actually get better.

My illness fights back…


For the past six weeks I had been feeling the best, healthwise, since around June 2016.

Less pain, more energy, oh how I was loving it! Endep (amitriptyline hydrochloride) I love you!

Then silly things I dismissed as stemming from my exhaustion became more real, then downright worrying.

I was hallucinating, which was funny at first, just like the worsening brain fog.

‘Haha, silly me, what a laugh’ soon became ‘what the hell is happening to me?’

Obviously my symptoms were feeling neglected, poor things, because they sent hallucinations and extreme brain fog to get me and shake me out of my new (relatively) comfy world.

I would have a conversation with my wife, and the very next day I had no recollection of it whatsoever… I still don’t! And those hallucinations? I was reading a book when the lines started to appear as though someone had highlighted them in green and then yellow. The next thing I remember is thinking wow this huge piece of hot fresh bread in my hands looks delicious (any bread is a no-no for my diet) and I was going to take the biggest bite possible!

Then I was back in the real world, only to find myself about to take a large bite out of the book I was reading.

Yes all the small hallucinations and forgetfulness was a bit of a lark to start with, but now it wasn’t funny anymore!

Last Saturday I had my monthly appointment with my wonderful GP and told her of all my symptoms. She got out her information on Endep and read out the horror side effects that ‘could’ occur.

Then she said it was my choice, a reasonably good life for about ten years then Dementia, or I go off the drug and all my symptoms come back. I would be back to square one with my pain, dizziness, sensitive skin etc etc.

Chronic illness 1, me 0.

So last Saturday I reduced my dose from 150mg to 125mg. Not much, so how hard could it be?

Extreme nausea, thumping headache (that lasted hours and hours and hours) and hello sensitive skin! Gee, how nice of you to return to make my life hell. Now, as before, anything touching my skin (including air) was once again a source of sharp pain.

So what now? Unfortunately the other drugs I could try have the same possible side effects. Indeed the only medication that has worked with me over the past two years was CBD (canabis) oil. I managed to score a small sample and it was wonderful.

No side effects, no addiction possible because the THC (the stuff that gives you a high) is removed.

But of course our moron politicians would rather spend our hard earned tax dollars and subsidise my expensive drugs, rather than allow me access to a native oil that I would gladly pay for myself. It would help tens of thousands, and has a multitude of peer reviewed studies showing how amazing and side effect and dependance free it is.

And it is available in the US, including one State (Colorado I believe) who paid off their entire debt within one year of allowing people to grow and sell this oil.

I shall say again for all those conservative and ignorant wowsers out there, NO the oil DOES NOT include the THC that gives you a high, hence the fact it cannot become addictive.

Yes, our wonderful Federal Government did say a while ago that we could have access to this in Australia. What they didn’t say was it is only available if you get two doctors to say in writing that you have tried all other available medication (which can take years) and they support your application for CBD oil.

If, by the glory of the public service, you are approved, they only allow you two months supply before you have to fill out a stack of other forms! So yes it is available but only if you spend all your time going to doctors, trying drugs that wreck your brain, and filling out a bazillion forms every few months.

I think I would rather be ill.

I did hear that some people were buying it from overseas and getting it shipped here. Great!…except the ever spreading moronity within our government then banned this. Isn’t it nice to know that our government is taking such an interest in our health? I mean they locally built the world’s most expensive hospital and ran out of beds within two weeks. So sure, we trust them!….. don’t we??

Here is a naturally occurring plant that can be grown here, where the THC (and hence the ‘high’) part of the plant is removed, made into an oil and sold to over a hundred thousand sufferers as their only relief from devastating chronic pain and suffering. And a side benefit is that the government can tax it and make a fortune.

But no, far more efficient to keep it all at arms length, make tens of thousands of their subjects go through hellish illnesses and ignore the massive income stream they could receive.

Much better to sit back and wait for opinion polls, to see if they would gain more votes than they would lose by helping the sick.

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to buy your vote.”

If you want to read more; https://eternalplants.com.au/news/medical-cannabis-red-tape-forces-thousands-turn-black-market-pain-relief/

How Do We Get Through This??


To my fellow invisible sufferers of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, there is always pain but there is also always hope.

I wish I could say everything was fine but you know that is a lie. We all have our own stories, some far sadder than others, but all with that common bond – we constantly suffer excruciating pain and exhaustion but we look healthy.

Now I am not saying I would rather look ill, I’m not that good looking to start with! Perhaps something simple that others could see and recognise, and no I do not want that sign to be my wheelchair.

A sign, yes that might work! Maybe something small and tasteful, a neon sign above my head with a pain meter flashing brightly. I think red would be a nice colour. Oh, and in bold…and maybe underlined as well.

Seriously though, how do we get through this incredibly debilitating illness that can last anything from five to fifty years, when everyone we meet tells us we look fine and wonders what we are on about. Sick? Hey you didn’t see me last week, I had the flu so badly!

Every one of us would gladly swap our condition for the flu any day! Even if we were told that the flu would last a year I am certain we would all sign up!

There is a serious disconnect between how we look and how we feel, and it is wider than the Grand Canyon. It is also impossible to explain to people in a dozen words or less, which is the average attention span these days after they have said; “Hi. How are you?”.

It would make our lives so much easier if we could tell people what we are going through in a nice, short, simple sentence. A sentence that would achieve complete and immediate understanding.

“I have ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. Never heard of it? Well I feel exhausted all the time..” That is about as far we get sometimes before they jump in and say something like; “Tired? Mate I’m tired all the time! I work fifty hours a week, have to look after the kids and I don’t get to sleep in on weekends because I have to take my oldest to their footy game.” And the attention is now on them, not you, and you feel like you now have to justify how you feel, convince him your illness is real and terrible and awful and some days you feel like you are dying and your partner left you because they couldn’t cope and didn’t believe you were actually ill because you look so well….

Take a breath. Breeeeeathe.

Now ask yourself a simple question. Apart from doctors and Centrelink, do you actually have to justify how you feel to anyone? Is it critical that people know exactly what you are going through? It would certainly make your life more bearable but since it is so crappy now, will it make that much difference if he/she knew the intimate details of your chronic illness?

Obviously with close family and friends the answer is a resounding yes, but they will (should!) give you time to explain exactly what you are going through. It also lets you know who really cares, because the ones that care actually listen, ask questions and try to understand. The ones that don’t you are better off without, as excruciatingly painful it might be at the time.

Time might not heal all wounds, but it does dull the pain. So hang in there, it does get better!

So what do we tell people, to make it easier for them to understand? Yes they should allow you the courtesy of listening and trying to comprehend it all, but we also have a duty to make it as easy for them to understand as we can.

To put it flippantly, and to improve the mood of this article by giving us all hope for a more sympathetic tomorrow – we need a catchphrase.

“I have………?” What can we say that covers a dozen symptoms (or more) for an illness that many people (including the medical profession and, of course, good old Centrelink) do not believe exists?

Correction. We need a label, not a catchphrase. People love labels. It makes everything easy, fast and quickly understood. They have busy lives you know (as they will tell you at the first opportunity, alluding to what you said about spending 90% of your life in bed). The most important aspect is that it needs to be quickly understood so we do not spend unnecessary energy trying to explain everything.

Now if you think that I am about to tell you what that wonderful, easy, stress-reducing label is, I apologise because I have no idea.

But maybe, together, we can achieve this? Think of all the times you have tried to explain to someone how you are feeling, then think about how wonderfully easy it would be to tell them in eight words. They sympathise or grunt and you move on. No more asking yourself; “Where do I start? Do I say I’m bedbound for almost my entire life, will they believe me or laugh and say they wished they could just lie in bed all day? Do I have the energy to try to explain everything to this person? Is it worth it because it will be exhausting and I need every drop of energy just to exist? Do I just say that I’m fine and move on? Do I owe it to fellow sufferers to make the effort and explain it all so one more person understands? Do I push on and try to spread the message about this largely unknown illness? If they don’t believe me will it crush me and take a week or two to recover?

In my case I ask myself if I have the energy to answer with – “Actually I had to stop working in April last year due to my chronic illness. We lost our dream home which was devastating and incredibly stressful, but we were lucky to find a beautiful home we downsized into a bit further out from the city. I can’t plan my days because I don’t know when my next crash will be, so you’ve caught me at a good time. I’m actually out of the house! I’m bedbound for about 90% of my life so these outings are very special to me. I take incredibly strong painkillers that I have to be careful to not get addicted to, but if I don’t take them I’m quickly in as much pain as a cancer patient in the last three months of their lives. It is documented, studies have been done. I regularly have a blood test to keep an eye on my liver and other stuff, and see my GP every month. Last week I had a migraine for three days and I really don’t know how I got through it, hardly slept. Just two mornings ago I woke up in horrific pain all over my body, I have no idea why but I changed my medications a bit and the pain has reduced, touch wood. Now I go to bed at night really scared that I’ll wake up in that same pain, the worst pain I have ever experienced. The dizziness is crazy. I walk around at home – when I’m out of bed that is, I can only do 500 steps per day or I have several bad days afterwards – and even with my walking stick I keep crashing into things. My skin is incredibly sensitive and sometimes when I put clothes on or just turn over in bed it feels like someone is peeling my skin off with a very sharp knife. I really cannot do more than one outing a week, or two very short ones, as I crash badly. It is nice to get out and feel human, but I have to be careful because my senses are so fragile that if there is noise and people talking loudly around me it also triggers a crash. I’m trying to keep positive, luckily my partner is very supportive, you wouldn’t believe what some incredibly thoughtless and horrible things some other partners do. Some leave their spouse because they don’t believe we’re ill or just can’t cope with having to do everything around the house. I feel so sorry for them because the illness itself is horrible enough without your personal life imploding as well. Anyway as I said I’m trying to stay positive, so I’m writing a blog to support other people with the same chronic illness, by letting them know they are not alone. I write some other stuff as well, mostly at night because I often can’t get to sleep even though I am completely exhausted. Have you seen a marathon runner at the finish line? I feel like that if I just walk down my street. I’m also reading a bit, in between the dizziness, to try to keep my brain going. I never thought I’d say this but I really miss working, you’re very lucky, so next time you have a bad day think of me because I’d trade with you in a microsecond! They haven’t found a cause or cure yet. I’m still waiting for Centrelink to approve my application for the Disability Support Pension, it has been in their system for over a year and it’s an incredibly stressful process, exactly what I don’t need. It’s the Federal Government trying to save money and most people with my illness get refused and have to appeal. For some stupid reason the assessors at Centrelink believe they know better than four doctors! Absolute disgrace especially in our country, no compassion for people like me at all. And how are you?”

Yes, I think we need a label.

Any ideas??

I Almost Died This Morning


Really truly, no joking.

I felt like I was dying, honestly. Whether it was just my Fibromyalgia or ME or both, it really felt like the end.

Of course it wasn’t. I’m a male, we get worse pain than females as a payback for not having to give birth to anyone.

Turns out I had missed a dose of pain medication. But hand on heart I actually asked myself, “If this is the way I have to spend the rest of my life, I would rather not thanks.”

Not that I would ever give up either, it is just that I thought it, I didn’t actually do it. Obviously…or I would not be writing this.

So, now I know again (this has happened before) how sick my body really is and how strong my pain medication must be.

You see, I woke up at 11.15pm thinking it was about two or three in the morning, and my body felt like it was coming down with a bad case of the flu. This was very, very worrying because it is almost two years ago now that I went to my then GP and said; “I have really bad man-flu, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck but I have no nasal symptoms.” His response that I couldn’t do anything but ride it out wasn’t totally reassuring, but also not unexpected.

That is when it all started, and it has been on a downward curve ever since.

Until what I hope was the bottom of the curve this morning.

Anyway, I took my 1.00am medication at 11.30pm because of how I was feeling, hoping to stop it before it got worse.

Well, it had news for me!

I then woke up just after 10am, which would normally be cause for celebration because I never sleep that long, except my body was in the worst pain than I can remember.

My wife (Angle of Mercy) came in, and I would like to say that it was because I calmly called out “Claudia, could you please come here for a moment”, but it was probably “Oooahhawwwhumpfurgle.”

My skin was on fire so she couldn’t touch me and I couldn’t move, which was not an auspicious beginning. I was lying as perfectly still as possible, because any movement meant something touching my skin (even my skin sensitive fabric night attire) making it feel as though someone was lightly cutting me with an incredibly sharp knife.

I will not repeat “worst pain ever.” Oops, sorry.

She was brilliant. Calm and caring like the incredibly loving person she is, she asked when was the last time I had taken any drugs. In an extremely croaky voice (because I was dying you see) I said I wasn’t sure. So she quietly made me do some calculations and I realised that I had not taken any of my medications for nearly twelve hours, when they should be taken every five hours.

Mmmmm. Even in my dying state I realised that was probably not ideal.

Claudia asked if I would like some iced coffee and pointed to a glass full of her delicious concoction on my bedside table. Yes she makes it herself because she is an Angel, please refer above.

I recoiled in terror because reaching for it would mean fabric moving against my skin and certain death (certainly more pain, if that was possible).

So she fixed me up with my medications, doing everything but take them for me she (did I mention that she is an Angel?). Half an hour later I started to feel my normal pain, not the death defying stuff, and after an hour I could actually get out of bed.

So now I know what my real illness feels like underneath all the symptom-attacking drugs I take, and it scared me – no, it terrified me!

Needless to say we went through my medication schedule again, increased the volume on all my alarms and checked my “stock” to make sure I had enough until my next doctors visit.

My wife saved me today. Just as she does every day, except she really saved me today.

This revolting episode possibly explains why I am still awake tonight at 1.30am, even though I feel so incedibly tired (real tired this time!).

So please, whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO TAKE YOUR MEDICATION!!

My own ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia story


I am writing this with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, in the hope that someone else may recognise the symptoms I had (and ignored) and do something before it is too late.

When my first symptoms appeared I did not rest but ‘fought bravely on’, or so I thought. The truth is I made it much, much worse for myself……

Let us start at the beginning.

By all accounts I was a precocious kid who was also very shy.

About the age of five or six (maybe seven?) I came down with glandular fever. I did not know it at the time but this was very bad news and quite possibly the beginning of my current condition.

I remember feeling incredibly exhausted and in pain all over my body. After I was diagnosed I had six to eight weeks off from school and vaguely remember being so tired that I couldn’t do anything, spending all my time in bed. Not much fun without the smartphones and laptops we can enjoy now.

I was very young for my class, as my birthdate of early February allowed me to start before I was strictly of school age. This meant I finished Year 12 when I was only sixteen.

After the glandular fever I was a fairly normal kid. I spent ages outside playing with the kids up the street, running around with the best of them. In fact my parents had to tell me, on many occasions, to calm down and not make so much noise.

I wish I had that energy now!

In grade eight, from memory, I started to ride my bike to school. This was no mean feat when you consider we lived five miles away as the crow flies, and there were not many crows around to give me a lift so it was probably a six mile trip for me and my bike.

I participated in all sports, cricket and football being the main ones, and ran the 800 metres on sports days.

The only symptom I can recall near this time is that when I became a teenager I would sleep (when on holidays) until two or three in the afternoon. My Mum chided me for this, and why not because it was not normal behaviour. The beginning of CFS?

I exercised a lot, including a 1.5 kilometre run most nights (yes I know I’m mixing metric with imperial, I was at school when it changed so give me some latitude here!) so I did not lack energy.

When my University days began I do remember waking up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep. I had to drag myself to go to boring lectures and tutorials. However I thought the tiredness was because of my hatred of University. Another big mistake.

Then I started my first job as a Management Trainee at a bank. I quit after less than two years when I thought I was underutilised (I had taken to bringing a book to work because I got my work done too quickly).

In hindsight I was monumentally stupid. I was in their marketing department at the time, a role I would kill for now.

However I knew better (I didn’t) and since I had got my first job at my very first ever job interview, how hard could it be to get another one?

Bloody hard, especially if you quit your job during a recession. More fool me.

I spent the next two years doing odd jobs (storeman, pizza delivery, market research) before landing a role in retail sales. Oh, and waking up exhausted. The CFS continued and I knew no better so I soldiered on. Another big mistake.

My personal anxiety at this point was through the roof. I finally got a full time, steady job, but as a retail salesperson. Every day for the first few months I’d have to psyche myself up just to get out of my car and walk the few remaining steps to work.

My anxiety was stratospheric.

My morning tiredness by this point was out of control. Coca Cola was my staple drink, three or four cans a day to keep me awake…plus I loved it!

Fast forward a few years to my thirties, still changing jobs every two or three years because I would get bored. My first marriage had imploded and my morning exhaustion had me eating a Mars bar with a can of Coke for breakfast, just to get going. Yet another clear signal (with hindsight) missed.

This went on for a few years.

After my failed marriage, which meant I could only see my son (who was the light of my life) every second weekend, my stress levels were on another planet.

During the twelve months directly after my wife and I separated I suffered tonsillitis three times, was made redundant twice, had my wisdom teeth out, a knee operation and almost died from liver failure due to an auto-immune disease. Stress galore and even more tired in the morning.

Looking back now the stress was so enormous it was always going to pay me back, big time.

At this stage I definitely had what would be diagnosed today as CFS. They say the best thing you can do at early onset of CFS is to rest. However I was going through a divorce and had shamefully had to move back home because I was broke, so no rest for me.

Fortunately another good job came around and I was spending more time with my son (50/50). He kept me going when I was totally exhausted. How could I stop with a young (three or four year old) wonderful, incredible child to care for?

I had a lot of sales roles early in my career and as a sufferer of anxiety this was not good. However I persevered because I liked unemployment even less.

Waking in the morning was becoming a far more serious issue, as I had to force myself to roll out of bed to make sure I wouldn’t go back to sleep. Days were just a blur and I couldn’t wait to get home and lie down.

Sound familiar?

My fault entirely, as some management consultant had given an IQ test to everyone at a place I worked whilst in Sydney (another story). The good news was that he recommended I join Mensa and he told me that if I found myself in a room of two hundred people then I would, on average, literally be the smartest guy in the room. After the ego died down I put enormous pressure on myself to succeed (in anything, I just had to!).

After my return to Adelaide I was working a normal nine to five job, then at the end of that day I went to an office I shared with a friend, in a startup business we saw promise in. After just over a year of this and having a local distributor steal the exclusive rights to what we were selling, we decided to call it quits.

I was so damn tired I could hardly think straight. But I HAD to succeed and be a millionaire by the time I was thirty-five! This was the worse thing I could of done to my now very fragile body and mind.

Then I met my second wife (still married eighteen years later) who is very much into health. She became very concerned over my morning tiredness and the stress I was under.

After actually waking up feeling refreshed (the only time I can remember doing so in my life) on Kangaroo Island on a holiday, I readily agreed to see if anything could be done. I wanted more mornings like that one!

My first doctor diagnosed me with anxiety induced depression and I was put on a drug that, again in hindsight, made my ME/CFS condition worse. I took Zoloft for the next fifteen years. Zoloft can lead to ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia.

A few years later I joined a very small business and invested a lot of time and money into it. The business was in the finance industry, and I joined exactly one month before the Global Financial Crisis wiped us out.

My timing, when it comes to money, has always been atrocious.

Even more stress now, as we faced the reality of possible bankruptcy and losing our dream home. For the next three years I worked every single day (yes including Christmas Day) networking and chasing clients for my own sales and marketing consultancy, as there were simply no jobs during this time after the GFC. Money was great one month and terrible for the next two or three.

Even more stress.

Then I started teaching international students all about business, team building, leadership, finance and marketing. I loved it. However I was still waking up feeling exhausted.

Then in about April of 2016 I had what I thought was the flu. I felt like I had been hit by the proverbial bus but strangely did not have a blocked or runny nose. I now believe this is when my Fibromyalgia began, with this virus triggering another that had lain dormant since my glandular fever, causing my ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia to explode.

The GP I went to for this ‘flu’ told me to rest and wait it out. I tried to talk to him about my exhaustion for the last thirty years but he dismissed all this, telling me to get a good night’s sleep and take up exercise. The worst possible advice for the condition I had.

I went back to work a week later when I should have stayed in bed. If I had I probably wouldn’t be in the situation I am in now.

Then my legs started to feel incredibly heavy, as though made of concrete, and I began walking crookedly, uncontrollably, crashing into walls and, most embarrassingly, walking into student desks. The pain in my legs started soon after.

Finally I was getting the message my body had been trying to tell me for the last thirty years…”Stop! Rest! You are an absolute wreck!”.

The next doctor (I did not bother going back to the unbeliever) was sympathetic and actually believed in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. However she told me she did not know enough about it and so referred me on.

In so doing she did me an enormous favour and I will always be grateful.

The next doctor was a godsend. I first saw her in July of 2016. She had no preconceptions about my condition and was treating other patients with the same symptoms.

I had a five week break over Christmas that year (2016) after struggling to get through every day beforehand. I did nothing but stay at home and rest, but at the end of those five weeks I did not feel any better.

My suspicions were confirmed on my first day back at work as my symptoms were as bad as they were before my break. This way the time when I knew something was seriously wrong.

My new GP sent me to a Neurologist, fearing MS, whom I saw in January 2017.

The Neurologist shared the suspicions of my new GP and booked me in for an MRI. It showed lesions in my brain but it was inconclusive for MS.

My all over body pain (Fibromyalgia) got steadily, and significantly, worse. Eventually every day when I arrived home after work I had to ring my wife to come into the garage, and help me to get out of my car. I could not get out without her help.

Eventually I asked my boss at the time if I could work from home every Wednesday because of my illness, as Wednesday was my admin day. I had taken increasing numbers of days off before this just to try and cope. Unfortunately he did not believe me, instead he asked if I had my own business outside of work or was I working for someone else each Wednesday. That relationship was therefore doomed, and I must my part that with everything that was going on in my life I was probably not being a model employee

Shortly after I parted company with my sceptical boss, and had another teaching job within days, working just three days a week.

Unfortunately my condition continued to deteriorate so I started working just two days a week, then one. Finally I had to tell my employer that I couldn’t even do one day a week because it was taking more than a week to recover from just that one day.

With fear and dread at the consequences, my wife and I had decided that I simply could not work in my my condition.

In June of 2017 my Neurologist ordered another MRI which showed no change. Just in case she had missed something she referred me to a Specialist Physician. The good news was that she did not think it was MS, which was a relief.

The Specialist Physician diagnosed me with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. I finally had my diagnosis! I felt relief and dread in equal measure.

While all this was going on I was dealing with superannuation insurance claims and the reality that we were going to have to sell our dream home. Keeping our house clean for open inspections was a never ending task for my poor wife, as I literally could not raise a finger to help her.

This all happened from April to September last year.

Then our house sold, a bittersweet moment filled with regret, sorrow and extreme guilt for me. After all it was because of my illness that we had to sell.

I suffered more stress since July 2016 through to when our house sold in September 2017 than ever before.

And now we had just thirty days to find somewhere to buy or rent.

Fortunately we found a beautiful place in Nairne, about another fifteen minutes out from the city. It is smaller than our last home but we are loving it more and more each day (to my eternal relief!).

However prior to knowing that we would love this new home, but feeling a little excited because it was so new, the packing and moving happened all around me as I looked on helplessly and with much guilt.

Yes, stress levels even higher again. I know now that had I taken a few months off after my ‘flu’ in April 2016 I could possibly have recovered completely. Unfortunately I refused to give in and kept dragging myself to work. The alternative at that stage being far too terrifying as I knew how much my wife loved our home, as did I. I was also not sure if we had any insurance that would help us.

My wife and I had visions of a tiny unit in Elizabeth. Or even worse, asking to stay with my parents for a while!

After we moved I spent my time chasing Centrelink and insurance companies, and suffering worsening symptoms. The pain was intense over every square millimetre of my body and I had not had a day without this pain since April 2016.

At one of my visits with my new GP in around August of last year I told her I felt as though I was slowly dying.

We kept trying different drugs but the opioids gave me very bad side effects. One night I almost asked my wife to call an ambulance for me, as I was experiencing severe gyroscopic dizziness and was not sure where I was.

Today as I write this I am in ‘forced retirement’ while my poor wife, who has been an angel through all of this (as has the rest of my immediate and incredibly supportive family), has to keep working.

We have about eighteen months of Income Protection payments left, after which I will receive less than half that until I turn sixty (I am fifty-four now). Then it is the Disability Support Pension which took ten months and the submission of about one hundred pages of information to approve.

My GP has been trying some different drugs lately and one has given me some small relief. Unfortunately my days are still filled with sleeping, reading, watching Netflix, taking drugs and trying to take a shower.

And yes, when I tell that to some people they respond by saying it sounds like a wonderful holiday to them. Then they look at me, see (on the surface) a healthy looking person and either turn away or give me that stare first, the one that says; “You’re a lucky bastard.”

If they had to spend just twenty-four hours in my skin they would be begging to return to their previous lives.

Boredom is a major part of my life. I cannot walk more than 500 steps a day without having a crash the following day. A crash is even more pain, a migraine, incredibly painful feet and hands (so I cannot walk anywhere or hold anything), dizziness, insomnia (wired-tired), not to mention the pain on every square millimetre of my body.

Basically I spend the day in bed taking as much medication as I am allowed and go through three or four cold compresses for my exploding head.

Back to some good news. At least now I know what illness I have and all the uncertainty, forcing myself to work when feeling like death, disbelieving doctors, sceptical employers and the stress of losing our dream home because of my illness, is all behind me.

I have no idea what I will, or can, do for the rest of my life. However one thing I am sure of is that I want it to be a very, very long one.

Hey??

Every moment I spend with my beautiful wife and family is worth all the pain and suffering. I hope that you have someone in your life that makes you feel the same way.

Good luck to us all, and may a cure not be too far away!

Bloody Migraines!!


Well, 3.35am and my latest migraine is now ‘just’ a bad headache.

I had one last night too. In fact they are so regular, I do not think I have gone a whole week without one since my illness started around June 2016.

It nearly always starts the same way. I am asleep, I wake up and need to pee (please excuse my crude language but I do have a very bad headache) and at this stage I feel alright, in that I do not have a headache. Then I get out of bed and it hits me, hard, usually on one side of my head.

This causes me to stumble and crash into the walls, furniture, basically everything, when I am trying very hard not to wake my wife (fail!). She gets up at 3.30am for work so she needs her sleep. This makes me feel guilty and my headache responds by pounding the side of my head even harder. It is the right side today (just in case the suspense of not knowing was too much for you).

So, I go and get the ‘beans’. We always have two packets of beans in the freezer, wrapped in tea towels so I can rest my head on them. Yes, two packets, as some of my migraines last for quite a while.

So now I am at the point (this point arises, at some time, with every migraine) of deciding whether to take a Maxalt, which is a tablet specifically for migraines. I place one tablet on my tongue and let it dissolve. The reason I hesitate is because they used to cost just over $6 a tablet, which quickly adds up when you have several migraines in a week.

Fortunately now I have qualified for the Disability Support Pension and with that comes cheap medication. So, now they cost me just over $2 each.

So why am I waiting, you ask?

Just take the tablet and get rid of the pain? Well, you see, if I took a tablet for every headache (as all my headaches can turn into a migraine within seconds, literally) then I’d be taking around 4-6 tablets a week, or between $468 and $624 a year.

My illness already costs me enough in Doctor and Specialist visits and all the other medication I have to take.

So I hold off on taking them until the pain is so great, and has been with me so long that I cannot stand it anymore.

I know that many people with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia experience these same headaches, which I take some weird comfort in. So thank you, but I hope your headaches leave you for good.

And now the time has come. I cannot stand this any longer so I am going to crack open the piggy bank and take some drugs.

I really hope they work! They do most of the time, but sometimes…well, I better not think about that.

My fellow sufferers of broken sleep and agonising pain, may your headaches be mild and your painkillers cheap!

Amen.