I was not one who suffered with CFS. I was one who was extremely limited by it, describing it as a “conscious coma”. At times I remember wondering that if I had the choice between amputation of my legs or my current state, I’d be tempted to ring a surgeon. One I wanted to be myself.
I first fell ill, acutely ill, on an early day in my final year at school. I call it “the day I lost my smile”, because literally that’s what happened. I lost the energy to smile, and think, and run. No virus was found and it was labeled as burnout. Paradoxically fortunately for me, my mum had been diagnosed with CFS many years before, and had also been unwell since year 12. So my strange symptoms were understood and I was given everything I needed, including part time schooling. Even though that was difficult with the brain fatigue, I refused to leave: I was school captain, sports captain, and music captain. I couldn’t just walk away.
I completed Yr 12 over 2 years in 2 different schools and then took a year off to recover. I thought that was my answer: feeding the ducks, going to the movies, and resting whenever I needed to. But my health didn’t change. I decided to give university a go and started a science degree. Every day there was a battle, whether it was walking from the car-park, sitting through a lecture, or being able to concentrate at all. Not being able to do anywhere near my best was extremely frustrating and eventually, unable to study for my exams, I pulled out after 2 years.
The other reason for pulling the pin on my science degree was that I wanted to study medicine. In order to do that I needed to get a job so I could move interstate. God amazingly provided with part-time work in a doctor’s surgery which then lead into longer hours with a neurologist. After 3 years of work, minimal improvement in health, and feeling I was going nowhere, I re-enrolled in my previous university in a similar degree.
The good news was that I now didn’t need the disabled car-parking space, but the tricky news was that I now had double vision to deal with, and more good news – the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. The only thing that had been found wrong with my physiology was restriction in my neck muscles, presumably responsible for the feeling of “no oxygen getting to my brain”. Massage and chiropractic sessions gained good result but couldn’t alleviate the now intermittent double vision, surprisingly occurring when I was “just enjoying myself”.
I was excited when I first heard about this therapy because of its transforming testimonies. At last something worked! By that stage I was doing okay and waited until I’d finished another university semester, wanting to be fully focused on whatever I was doing. I then teed up phone sessions with a wonderful coach in the UK, and was most encouraged by the theory behind the symptoms. My difficulty was working out which symptoms needed to be treated in other ways. But the word I used for how I felt was “emboldened”: I was no longer a victim, but a whole being coping as best I could. And knowing that my symptoms meant I could take action? I did! I went camping. The burning and aching in my legs have ceased. The double vision has gone. I can think again. My maxim for this therapy is “be true to yourself, in tune with yourself, and doing whatever turns you on!”
One month ago, after 9 and a half years, I graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. I don’t want to be a medical doctor any more. I know they don’t have all the answers: we are body, mind, soul, and spirit: amazingly intertwined beings who desire wholeness in every realm. I want to facilitate that.
P.S. A year ago my brother asked me if I would accompany him on a trip to New York. There was no way I could say yes: invisible walls kept me in. Slowly, the walls came down. We leave next week!!
Photo for illustrative purposes
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