Wednesday, 14 May 2014

ME Awareness Week - Part 1

Did you know it was ME Awareness Week? I bet you didn't! Would you be able to tell me what colour the ME ribbon is? Before I had ME I didn't even really know what ME was, let alone what colour the ribbon is or what day/ week ME Awareness Day/ Week is. This is the reason why this week is so important.

ME is a very serious condition that changes lives. ME couldn't really have changed my life more if it tried. I used to be out from about midday to midnight, five days a week, at my gymnastics club or in the gym working out. Sometimes, I would let myself off on a Saturday and rest and then back to a hard three hour session in the gym on Sunday night. I was addicted, and I LOVED it. I was so incredibly happy with my lifestyle. 

In September 2011 I went on holiday with Chelsea and we had a chilled week, soaking up the sun and drinking a couple of cocktails in the evening. Half way through the week I noticed I was getting a cold and a cough. It didn't bother me at the time, I just enjoyed my holiday and thought it would go in a week or so, like most colds do. 

When I returned home, the cold didn't go and neither did the cough. I was getting more and more tired but told myself I was just being lazy. My three hour gym sessions were soon becoming 20 minute sessions. I was only managing three vaults in a session, rather than the two hours of hard work that I usually did. I was falling asleep in any place I could; a dining room chair, a bus, in the middle of a crowded room. I beat myself up for being "lazy". 

I had a gymnastics coaching exam in mid-October. I had worked so hard. I had completed a logbook, two theory exams and then a practical exam. The months of work paid off and I passed. I was so happy to be moving up a level in the coaching world. My plan was to go home from the exam and book straight onto the next course for the next level. Something told me to hold off and not book it right away. This was very lucky as the day after my exam I went to the doctors and got signed off of work. I haven't returned to work since. 

At first my doctor gave me antibiotics to get rid of my cough. He ignored the fact that I was now sleeping at every available opportunity and not doing my usual fitness regime. The next day, I demanded a blood test but all results were normal. Four days after, the antibiotics hadn't kicked in so my doctor prescribed me different antibiotics. That night I ended up in A&E because I was having such severe spasms in my legs I couldn't stop crying. The doctors in A&E didn't know what to do with me as my bloods were normal, my blood pressure was normal, chest x-rays were normal. One doctor just passed me to the next, then to the next, until one doctor said I may have ME. Although I didn't know much about ME, I knew I didn't want it. I knew it didn't fit into my lifestyle. 

After every single blood test you can think off, multiple MRIs, Neurology, Rheumatology and Infectious Diseases appointments and anything else you can think of (and that I may have forgotten about) I got told it is ME, fibromyalgia and slight hyper-mobility that I am suffering with. 

Two and a half years later, I still haven't accepted that I am ill, but I would like to think I am on the way to acceptance. ME has changed my life completely. It's a lot to get used to. Walking with a stick, sometimes using a wheelchair and not being able to do what I used to at the age of 23 is hard. 

I am going to divide this up into two blogs as I am too tired to continue! My next blog will be about my life now and how I try and cope with the illnesses. 

Take Care and check back soon for part 2!

Rachel x 

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