In February 2020, I was a fit, active, healthy 40 something working as a freelance marketing manager, looking after my son and living a normal life. Then in March 2020, Covid struck and everything in my life changed.
Hi – It’s Kate here, from the UK. I have always been a trier. I tried hard at school, at Uni, at work, at losing weight, at baking the best cakes, at being a good friend, at going above and beyond… you get the picture! I was always wired, always on the go, never having time and always stressed about it! When all this trying eventually caught up with me, I was working three jobs and volunteering on four teams at my church.
Life was great! I was super active: working out three times a week, fishing and hiking with my husband and dogs, camping and traveling on the weekends. My stained-glass business was going strong and my newest passion for teaching meditation was flourishing: I had just taught a meditation class for Microsoft.
It is like a zipper that you draw up slowly, tooth by tooth, until it is whole once more. This is a process one must learn and practice as one goes forward. You must create new experiences through success. This has nothing to do with ‘thinking yourself well again’, but rather understanding yourself well.
I am writing this to those of you who are ill and have lost hope that you will get well again. I write because I want the health services to be more knowledgeable in the way they meet us. It was tough having to go through this on my own, and I would have wished there had been a team of psychologists, physiotherapists, and doctors who would not focus on my symptoms but on my rehabilitation, but first and foremost that could have provided a fair explanation of what might have happened. This is an essential key for people to get the courage to rehabilitate.
It may seem like a miracle, as I went from being barely able to walk to the end of my street to running my usual 5k running route and 10 mile cycling route in the space of a week. I’m not as fit as I used to be, but confident I will now get back to where I was. (Just to put this into context) I was about to do the Edinburgh marathon when Covid hit, and had just finished a 60 mile bike ride when I caught Covid).
Gradually my body ground to a halt, and I could feel the strength just seeping out of me. I was twenty and studying higher education. I was also an active athlete and wanted to focus fully on my sport. After … Continued
The basic summary of the cause of my illness is a familiar one. As far as I believe, the cause was burnout, plus the trigger of a nasty flu bug at the same time. From this I never properly recovered, and things quickly spiralled out of control. However, looking back at my life with hindsight, it is easy to see that there was already a foundation of issues which were affecting my health, and paving the way for a future illness.
I wish someone would have given me the knowledge that I have today, that someone would have normalised my condition 13 years ago and said: “You’ll be fine. We have a support network that will help you get back on your feet.” Instead, I was left alone, left to stumble through an overwhelming amount of advice on what to do when you’re a CFS/ME sufferer. It cost me 13 years of my life and my children missed out on their teenage years. At this conference organised by Catosenteret rehabilitation centre, Anette tells her story. It’s a story that touched many people.
Since I got well again I have completed my medical studies within the normal timeframe and then worked as a doctor, full time, including night shifts of 19 hours, with no more fatigue than any of my colleagues, before making the decisive choice that life is too short to carry on with the hectic lifestyle that I was used to.
It is almost six years since I first detected that something was wrong with my body. My life was stable and generally happy back then; I had a partner, my studies, and a network of good people. For years, I had enjoyed working out and exercising, as it gave me a boost of energy and put me in a good mood, but now suddenly I seemed to get some sort of ‘hangover’ when I’d been exercising; feeling exhausted, getting a slight ‘brain fog’ and generally feeling irritable for up to a week after a training session.
When I was seventeen, I contracted mononucleosis and was really ill for months. As soon as I recovered, I went back to school full time. Being a trainee hairdresser, I would spend a lot of time on my feet, with my hands held high. It did not take long before I developed tendinitis in both arms, and my general health deteriorated, from hardly ever being unwell prior to the mononucleosis (common cold, gastroenteritis, tonsillitis), to being ill often.