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Friday, 25 May 2018

Fidgeting With Hyper-Mobility Syndrome


I'm off to Amsterdam with Hattie the Otter and family later today and I have told Sally to get some work done while I am away. She wants to tell you all about how her Hypermobility Syndrome symptom (HMS) of fidgeting (not really a symptom but you'll see what we mean in a bit) links in with when she has reached her limit and it's time for bed.


I wrote this blog post a few years ago Foggy Just Thought Sally Was a Bit Bendy, in it I explained my health timeline and how Hypermobility Syndrome is common in people who also have ME/CFS. The longer I do my advocacy the more I realise that our illness intertwines with many other chronic illnesses.

Recently, I started to notice that I fidget around 10 minutes before my body tells me it's bedtime. I've written many times about how pacing and setting my own personal bedtime routine has trained my body to shut down for sleep by
10.15pm EVERY NIGHT. There is no such thing as a late night or lie-in in my M.E world! It's very difficult to force myself to stay awake later than 10.15pm and if I ever manage it, boy oh boy do I pay for it! That extra hour or so watching the end of a movie could affect my energy levels for a couple of days afterwards. I did wonder if the fidgeting was an M.E thing (rubbish memory - I had forgotten that I've done the fidgeting thing for decades!!)  but I saw the following tweet from @Ehlersdanlosuk  (Ehler-Danlos Support UK) today,

Children hEDS will be more ‘bendy’ than their peers & hypermobility can cause problems. Instability of the joints might lead to dislocations or subluxations (partial dislocations), children may suffer from pain, their joints may click, and they may fidget to relieve discomfort.

As I said in my previous  HMS blog, I have had symptoms since the age of 14 and so partial dislocation, joint pain, clicky joints and fidgeting are kind of normal for me. The realisation that the fidgeting hits 10 minutes before my body shuts down at night is a new thing though. Does anyone else with the combo of HMS and ME/CFS notice this? Or maybe you 'just' have ME/CFS and get this symptom too? Let me know please.

Recently, I have found myself doubled over in my chair, chin resting on my hands just to keep my head up, to watch the last 10 minutes of a TV programme. I am usually wriggling slightly and trying to crack my back to stop the weird shivering sensation going up and down my spine. Although I have barely any energy left I am having to squirm and shift in my seat to overcome the discomfort in my spine. I'm wondering if there could be an element of Orthostatic Intolerance thrown in too as I simply lose the ability to keep my spine straight and vertical by 9.50pm!

Joint-wise, my HMS has eased but I still have joint pain during cold weather and my right shoulder is still prone to partial dislocation. I find it odd that HMS has been replaced by ME/CFS in my health priority list, but there are a few remaining symptoms that I am so used to experiencing they don't register with me anymore. These same symptoms would ordinarily warrant attention by anyone else as an illness in their own right.

I remember, before getting side-swiped by ME nearly 12 years ago, I lived in a student house and friends used to come over and watch movies in my room. I used to always have to get up and move around during the film as the weird shivering sensation in my spine was too strong to ignore. I would often get 'For god sake sit still!. Sorry!

Just to throw a really bizarre idea into the mix. I wonder if my shivery spine back in my 20s was a sign that my M.E was dormant? I had M.E (undiagnosed) in my teenage years and it flared up again when I turned 30. I do wonder if there had been indicators that I just didn't pay attention to during my late teens-twenties. I have vague recollections of being so tired after climbing the hill up to my flat that I slept the second I got home. At the time, I was a lot heavier than I am now and put it down to being unfit but.....what if?! It's all hypothetical, I'll never know the answer. 

I'd be very interested to know if there is a link between my body shutting down ready for bedtime and the shivery spine thing flaring up. Thoughts?


Sally (and Foggy OBVIOUSLY)

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Weight and M.E


This is an issue that has bugged me for years - how do people with M.E lose weight? Now I'm not talking about people with severe M.E who are often drastically under-weight because of the condition. This blog relates more to mild/moderate sufferers.

I went to an M.E conference a few years ago and heard an M.E charity dietician say that the illness itself does not cause weight gain. What causes the weight gain is lack of activity (not really a surprise) and comfort eating. Both of which apply to me.

When I used to work full time whilst having M.E, the activity involved with being on my feet all day kept my weight down at a fairly reasonable level and luckily I was also going through periods of 'remission' and could walk miles, go to the gym or go swimming whilst my symptoms were allowing it.

However, I haven't had one of those periods of remission for a few years now, and since becoming self-employed I find that some days I do very little activity. My world revolves around one desk and one desk chair in my living room. I'm finding that when I do venture out for a walk I get breathless quickly. Yes, that could be the M.E itself but personally, I do think there could also be a little bit of deconditioning going on. Simply because my lifestyle has changed so much over the past 2 years. So, when I feel able to, when my symptoms allow it, I am
getting back into the habit of leaving the house for a 20-minute walk. I just think, if Patch was still around I would still be taking him out every day so I want to try to get back to that level of activity. If my symptoms allow it. Have no fear - if the exercise makes my symptoms worse, I will stop. I am absolutely, in no way whatsoever, encouraging M.E sufferers to exercise. GET/PACE proved that exercise exacerbates our symptoms, which is why so many of us avoid it in the first place. However, I am going to see how much activity I can do without repercussion and only on days when my symptoms allow it.

I have said for many years that my bum is the size of Alaska. Unfortunately, now the years and weight have piled on, it is now the size of a small continent. I feel flabby, my clothes feel tight and I have lost all muscle tone that I ever managed to achieve (hint: not a lot!). I am hoping a bit of gentle walking will help get back to Alaskan-size proportions over time! Unfortunately for me, my weight gain is there for all to see on my YouTube videos. I think I must have put on a dress size since Foggy started back in 2014. I'm aiming to get back to the same as I was when Foggy started. I don't do scales, I simply go by how my clothes fit. Only yesterday, one of my close friends said that dieting is easy. Simply burn off more calories than you eat. Sounds simple enough but what if you can't do exercise? What about when you can't 'burn off' many calories? Should we exist off a 500 calorie diet?!

As for comfort eating, I think only sufferers with wills of iron can hand-on-heart say they don't eat when going through 'payback' and it feels like you are alone with this dreadful illness. I admit I am a comfort eater. I am really good at eating 3 healthy meals every day. I can't eat processed rubbish because more often than not it has gluten or dairy in it, both of which I am intolerant to. I eat from a small dinner plate (has anyone actually shopped around for small dinner plates recently? I have! It took weeks to find one that was 1970's portion size!! Plates are huge now...adding to the obesity epidemic?? I think so!). I think I am putting on weight for 2 food reasons:

1. I snack. Or at least I used to until a month ago. I am now snacking around 10% of what I used to, hopefully that will make a difference.
2. Gluten-free food is full of sugar and other rubbish to make up for the lack of gluten. So when I have gone to a business event, day out, or trip to the hospital, the only food available is full of sugar and calories. Anyone else had the predicament of being on a diet but the only gluten-free option on an extensive menu is a bowl of chips? (Even then some chips have a coating on them).

Yes, research has shown that M.E bodies don't create/use energy in the same way that 'normal' bodies do. Perhaps that is linked in some way to why it is so hard to lose weight. However, I am going to do as much as I can do to turn the tide. I don't do extreme diets, I like to keep things simple as there is a higher chance of sticking to it! I am also trying to be as sugar-free as possible - wish me luck with that! Some of Foggy's Followers call me Wonder Woman...I think I'm going to have to borrow Superman's willpower of steel!

Love Sally
and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Brain Inflammation


Foggy is still winging his way to Melbourne to see the Emerge Australia gang (9 days and counting....eek). I'm making the most of the peace and quiet and, in slow time, getting ready for our M.E Awareness Week events next week (full info on mefoggydog.org). The week so far has been very busy and has involved lots of communicating online mostly via my smart phone. That is the inspiration for this blog!

If M.E could be summed up in one sentence I think it would be brain and spinal cord inflammation.  That kind of hints that everything related to the brain and spinal cord is affected by the illness. That's a heck of a lot of other body systems and parts that are dragged along for the ride.

Yesterday, my brain felt like it was very inflamed and swelling up to burst out of my skull! I realise that wasn't actually happening but this was how it felt. I felt as if every part of my brain had puffed up and was squished against hard bone, oozing out between the cracks and causing me to feel like I couldn't get a thought out. It's a very hard to describe feeling, it's a kind of numbness of thought

I find the act of checking Twitter, email, Facebook, Instagram, blog comments throughout each day incredibly tiring. But, that is the nature of my Foggy work so I am not complaining. The immediacy (is that a word??) of using a smartphone to check these channels means I feel like I am 'switched on' for about 12 hours a day. Even when I am 'resting' my phone will be pinging and vibrating next to me. Last week, I turned my phone off at 6pm (that never happens) and didn't turn it on until 7am the next day. WOW, that felt good! I could turn off completely without distraction. The downside? I had 47 messages to catch up with whether they were tweets, Facebook messages or emails received. This is why I don't 'turn off' regularly, because I am in demand 👊  Which is absolutely wonderful, I am very happy to talk to any Foggy Followers or people who want to get involved with our cause, but it does take its toll every once in a while.

Let's talk cognitive impairment. I can always tell when I am reaching my limit in terms of brain function as I have typos in every single word I type on my smartphone. It is so frustrating! If I have to type a long wordy reply, I often have to say that I'll reply on my laptop the following day. My hand/ eye co-ordination is rubbish when  my body starts to shut down so typing by touching my finger to a touchscreen is virtually impossible without typos. My brain slightly misjudges where each button is.  The one word I ALWAYS mistype is have. I always type ahve. I have done since I became an M.E person. Do you have one word that you always mis-type? I've probably posted blogs with the odd ahve typo (that was deliberate ha!).

The actual physical act of holding a smartphone is also tiring, do you agree? Having to use arm muscles to hold it 2 ft from my face uses energy too. Sometimes, when I am resting, I try to lay my phone on the bed next to me so I don't have to hold the phone but then I have to kind of prop myself up to be able to type....   This tiny act of typing on a phone is a minefield isn't it?! Business friends of mine have suggested I do my work on a tablet.....NO! At least a laptop has keys and reduces the risk of typos!

I like to give full answers when I respond to a query, sometimes I may have typed 4-5 sentences on my phone but have to give up because I'm not getting anywhere fast! Sometimes, I have the energy to go back and retype words but other times I just figure that the reader would be able to guess what I meant! This frustration also makes me grouchy so I would like to apologise to anyone I am grouchy with because of having an overgrown brain and poor hand/eye co-ordination!


(and Foggy OBVIOUSLY)