As I try to crawl out this latest CFS/fibro flare…well, I’m more in a tie-a-knot-and-hang-on phase…I’ve been approaching this one a little differently. I’m not despairing. That alone is an improvement. I took a few minutes, calmed myself down, and tried to imagine what I would say to someone who was brand new to chronic fatigue…or even just brand new to the idea that you can feel better by changing a few things.
1. Respect the fatigue. It’s a hungry, angry beast and if I ignore it, pester it, or mock it, it will bite me in the ass. Sometimes it will feel like a literal bite if the whole fatigue-inflammation cascade stirs up my sciatica. I’ve been trying to sleep more, taking epsom salt baths as soon as I feel the whole body achiness starting to stir, and putting my feet UP every afternoon. Last week I started watching The Good Wife on Netflix because I needed to park myself, get my feet up but not sleep because I had a little computer work to do or it was too late in the day for a nap. Even if you’re not sleeping well, or you’re just resting, getting your feet up makes it easier to think when you have chronic fatigue. (A book I read that discussed orthostatic intolerance in fibro used this question as a diagnostic tool: Do you prefer to read sitting up or laying down? If you need your feet up to read, you’ve likely got orthostatic intolerance…which is another blog post.)
2. Don’t eat crap. Learn from my mistake! I typically get too tired to cook and eat whatever I can grab. Since my energy is flagging, that usually triggers big carb loading “meals” of toast (Udi’s), tortilla chips and salsa, etc. These past two weeks I’ve stopped the cycle a bit by making a big breakfast when I have energy, made a big pot of chili mac that fed us for a couple of days, and enjoyed turkey and bread-and-butter pickle wraps for dinner several times. Twice I got a large take-out lunch that covered both my lunch and dinner. Minimal effort.
3. Remember what helps. What are your go-to supplements, habits, support? Write them on a Post-It note and stick it on the inside of your supplement cabinet. This time I remembered my adrenal support, magnesium, quercitin for allergies, taking a pinch of sea salt in water every morning, meditation, and leaning toward protein-rich meals. After two weeks of dragging through my days and two consecutive Fridays where I couldn’t get out of bed, I saw my naturopath who added Meriva–a powerful form of curcumin, topical progesterone, and MCT oil.
What else helps? This is my list. Go make your own. Seriously, go make your list because when the brain fog rolls in, you’ll thank yourself.
- Penta water or other alkaline water. I’m partial to Penta to the point I think of it as Chronic Fatigue Fixer.
- Vital Adapt for adrenal support. I LOVE this stuff.
- Gluten-free, mostly paleo meals. The two times I had rice this week I was miserable. Dang it, I usually tolerate it well. Cook your veggies to reduce oxalates.
- Epsom salt baths.
- Magnesium and fiber. Pay attention to your gut. A little extra fiber helps absorb any extra hormones your liver has been processing.
- Be nice to your liver. No alcohol. A glass of wine really won’t help. Dandelion root, milk thistle, even artichokes are all supportive. Coffee enemas if you’re up for it. (Ewww, right? It helps your liver produce glutathione. Read more here and here.)
- Homemade chicken broth is your friend.
- A friend suggested bergamot essential oil, but I find I’m just sensitive to any smells at all. I put it on my feet.
- Gentle, restorative yoga can help ease muscle aches.
Be kind to yourself, rest as much as you can, and keep your go-tos handy.