Sunday, 16 February 2014

ME Clinic - 3rd Appointment

I had my third appointment on Friday. I'm still completing my activity diaries and we talked about how I'm breaking my days up a bit better i.e. not having such big chunks of medium or high energy activities and am switching between mental and physical tasks. I'm definitely thinking more about what I'm doing during the day and prioritising what needs to be done and what can wait. I really notice my instant reaction to things that happen that are stressful and how my body and mind responds to them. My therapist spoke about how the body is often on 'high alert' in ME and sufferers reactions to stress are amplified, which I can really relate to. Pre-ME I would become nervous or stressed but now I feel like the slightest stress makes me feel quite disconnected, brainfogged and anxious which then leaves me feeling drained minutes, hours or days afterwards. It's funny though as most people who know me say that I never really look that distressed but I have a habit of internalising things..So to break that cycle I've learned that I need to delegate tasks to my other half so I'm not taking everything on, leaving things that don't need to be actioned straight away and practising more relaxation. I also need to stay in the moment and not start catastrophizing (I know I've slipped into CBT talk now....) I think that's where mindfulness would be really helpful.

We also chatted about exercise. I'm having to give up my yoga class due to moving house and the location of the class which is a real shame as I've been finding it very helpful. I'm on the lookout for another though and in the meantime have ordered the Beat Fatigue with Yoga DVD which I've used in the past and would recommend. The therapist has given me some stretches to do and if I get on ok with them then we'll look at some others at the next appointment. She's been adapting them to a yoga style which makes them a bit more interesting to do.

So until the next appointment the main focus is to be more zen like :)

                                                  Photo: taken at Lake Como September 2012

Friday, 7 February 2014

ME Clinic - 2nd Appointment

Well yesterday I had my second appointment where I took along my activity diaries.
But before we looked at those, I was asked to do some exercises - basically a short walk across the room then a one minute stair climb (up and down four steps consistently) and then a two minute continual corridor walk. The physio did advise me that I could have short stops or stop completely if I felt tired, so there was no real pressure but of course you know me... I had also just walked ten minutes from the bus stop to the hospital so I did feel quite worn out! She took my resting pulse and then checked it again after each exercise. I had to rate how difficult I had found the exercises on the Borg scale (see below). Basically the number you rate on the Borg scale x 10 should correlate to your pulse rate However although my pulse rate was 104 after the stair climb I rated it at around 16 which should have meant my pulse was 160. Apparently this is pretty common with ME sufferers and shows how easily fatigued we get with exercise.

Onto the activity diaries. Here is my week:  
 So as you can see there are large chunks of orange (medium energy activity) and not a lot of green (low energy) or rest interspersed with them, so the physio was quite strict with me! She suggested some ways of looking at my week and how i could incorporate more restful activities and be a little kinder to myself. But she took a pretty person centred approach, encouraging me to analyse my week and see what changes could be made. So today I have been a lot more mindful of how i need to stop thinking that I 'should' be doing things and look at balancing my day more, putting my health first. Simple changes like having a relaxing lunch, making sure I take my allocated 1/2 hour and listening to relaxation music on the bus instead of having the radio on while flicking through twitter and facebook on my smartphone - a recipe for brainfog! can reduce orange to green. The only difficulty I had was with her comment that I can't be spontaneous and every activity needs to be considered carefully - in other words keeping to a routine!

My sleep had been a bit out of kilter with thinking about the house move so I've been a lot stricter with myself the last few nights; having a camomile tea and not using the computer or my phone 1/2 hour before bed.

Next time I think we will look more at how adrenaline affects the body and the 'starter-finisher'; two subjects that will be very useful to me!

It seems like the topics being covered are pretty similar to other ME/CFS clinics. It would be great to hear your experiences - feel free to share!