Tuesday, 29 January 2019

When symptom levels creep up...

Over Christmas I caught one of the many bugs going round. Not one of the severe ones, but enough to knock me out for 3 or 4 days.

I kinda recovered, but I've been constantly feeling like I might be going down with the more severe lurgy that my PA is just getting over. Distinctly under the weather but in a way that is hard to define. Symptoms worse than I expect but not show-stopping. Which is often a sign I'm fighting an illness that hasn't shown itself yet, or my hormones are playing up.

The hormones came and went, and the symptoms stayed higher than expected.

So I'd been pootling along, almost waiting to be ill. Waiting for the reason my symptoms have been worse to show itself.

And as I sat editing the page of my latest book 'The Pocket Book of Pacing' which covers long term overdoing.....light dawned.

I've been 'long term overdoing'. Possibly for months. Pacing enough to avoid boom and bust, but not enough to allow myself to properly recharge. Constantly exceeding my energy levels by just a little bit, and as a result slowly getting worse.
Image description: Cover of"The Pocket Book of Pacing" and page 74 - draft, reading: "Beware of overdoing. If symptomss are increasing over time, it's time to revisit pacing basics. Doing a little bit too much each day can feed a downward spiral without an obvious crash. Where an underlying condition has got worse, better pacing will make life easier. Where an underlying condition hasn't got worse, having some recharge time and then pacing back into the 'I can cope with this' range allows your body to recover, and may mean you can slowly build back up without triggering the same level of symptoms. Staying in overdoing will almost always result in ever worsening symptoms.

I realised I needed a proper break - both in terms of brain power and of physical energy use. So I took the day 'off sick' even though I wasn't 'too ill to function'.

I spent it lying down on the sofa and watched a combination of children's movies and Jane Austin (which I can 'watch' with my eyes closed and be gently entertained). And making sure I didn't keep checking my phone or browsing the internet - because that still uses brain rather than giving it the rest it needs. I got up every hour for a stretch or a bit of exercise, or a drink or snack, but then returning to horizontal switch off rather than stressing my system by being upright.

I couldn't believe how much better I felt afterwards!

So I've revisited my pacing basics, and am now being strict with obeying my desk timer, taking proper brain breaks with no phone usage during them, and planning my day sensibly.

And I've also booked a short break soon to help with the recharge.

Slightly embarrassed at the irony of realising I've been overdoing it long term by reading my own draft book on the subject, but on the other hand, I know which book is going on my bedside table as soon as it's printed! I will definitely find it useful!

Onwards and upwards!

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait for this book! I'm now in a proper total crash from ME/CFS, with some professional help at long last and trying to find my baseline (although it still took internet reading to understand that a baseline is what you can sustain on a good and a bad day - i.e. not still slightly overdoing it). Just before I learned that I also realised that *any* activity requires brainpower and therefore proper rest = no external input, so I feel like I might be finding the start line of some kind of recovery. Your experiences have been incredibly useful in helping me take a long term view - I've had to give up basically every aspect of my former life and revise my expectations totally, but in the years prior my mindset was one of adapting and seeing everything as a positive contribution to long-term stability. Well, what I *thought* was pacing and stability has been blown out of the water by this crash but the mentality and mindset remains, and it's incredibly helpful to remember that in the long term, I might have a chance of regaining some little bits of life, even though they'll probably look different from how they used to. I've been grateful for your blog since I started being ill but now even more so that there is hope in the long run, if I don't rush things. I have my eye on the pacing pack too, thinking about whether it will suit/be useful yet or maybe a little later.

    Sorry for the ramble, and I'm glad you were able to recognise and remedy the long-term overdoing - and it's proof that you're doing the book right!

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