A story of life with ME/CFS
Towards the end of two weeks of being able to do very little, after my Covid jab, I was getting a little cabin fever. It didn’t help that we’d had a couple of rainy weeks before the vaccination and I hadn’t been going out for my (very short) walks. Even on the better days I’d been struggling with my allergy headaches which can be pretty disabling. As a result, I felt that I was really missing out on Spring. Our back garden is lovely and I do my best to make the most of it, but I knew there were many more beautiful things in my neighbourhood to see that we didn’t have in the garden.
From my seat at my computer, I could just get a hint of a Laburnum tree in full flower in a neighbour’s garden, but it was mostly obscured by their hedge. However, I knew that on one of my regular walks around the block there was a lovely Laburnum at the far corner. The more I got a glimpse of yellow in the neighbours garden the more I wanted to go on an adventure to see that Laburnum tree in bloom. But it’s positioning meant that I’d have to do the full walk which I knew from my tracking would be over 700m. I had tried a couple of walks that week. I’d walked up the road until my legs felt heavy then turned round and came back. The furthest I’d walked was 390m.
The first day I felt slightly better, I broke all my own rules. I didn’t wait for 3 days of improvement before doing more and I didn’t up my activity by only 10%. I didn’t even get put off by the idea that I would be inviting a nasty headache from all the exposure to tree pollen. The call for adventure was too strong, I’d been too miserable for too long.
I really, really enjoyed the walk. There were so many beautiful things to see, so many different trees in bloom, so many pretty flowers. (I’m lucky to live and a lovely neighbourhood). Strangely enough the Laburnum was a bit of a disappointment. It was looking a bit old and dry and not as splendid as it’s been in previous years, but there was another younger tree on my route that had never been on my radar before. So, I got to see a lovely laburnum after all. I managed the 700m walk OK, I didn’t do much else for the rest of the day and I felt worse again the next day. But it was worth it. Sometimes you just have to go on an adventure, it was exciting and filled me with joy.
It made me reflect on how my perception was involved in how much I enjoyed it. I usually enjoy my walks around the block, I make a point of looking out for things to appreciate. But this time it was special. I realised that it had a lot to do with limited opportunity. A tree is only in bloom for so long and if you miss it then you don’t get another chance for a year.
In the past this sort of excitement would only have been generated by the one-off opportunities of traveling and exploring a new country. Fortunately, I learned from my travel experiences that you get a lot more out of it, if you’re not too attached to a specific expectation of that experience. It’s possible to be excited to see something, and let that motivate you to explore, then enjoy the journey even if what you’re going to see isn’t quite how you imagined it to be.
Life for me is so different now. It’s so much smaller in a way. Before, the call of adventure came from Africa, South America and Asia. Now, adventure can beckon from only 350m away.
(The above images were taken a 7 years ago in Attingham Park)