Over the past 8 months or so I have relapsed every 6-8 weeks. I didn’t understand why and worried it meant that my illness was progressing – and getting much worse.
In January of this year I realized I was having a difficult time recovering from my mid-December relapse. I’d go out on an errand and return home feeling sick and more fatigued than ever. Then I’d rest up for two or three days and start feeling better. I’d go out again and the symptoms would return. I decided to go see my doctor about it and we acknowledged it was time for me to go on full-time sick leave. I wouldn’t have been able to make it from the parking lot to my office, let alone teach a class for 3 consecutive hours.
So I spent the next couple of months jotting down everything I did, ate and pooped, limiting my activities, and keeping a log of my symptoms and scheduled rest periods. All with military precision. I rested, meditated, did yoga, read a lot, and started a blog. Of course, as per usual, I had to eliminate coffee, sugar, alcohol and wheat from my diet. I also followed Bruce Campbell’s recovery program conscientiously, and, just when I felt I was starting to improve, I had another relapse.
So, as my wise Hindu neighbour would say “What to do?” It was spring in Montreal and that meant warm weather was just around the corner. I figured these more temperate atmospheric conditions would undoubtedly help improve my situation. But I was wrong. By the end of May I crashed, once again. What to do? What to do? My sister and her husband were coming over from Toronto for the Grand Prix weekend and I really wanted to start feeling better. So, as a last resort, I decided to reexamine the brain-training techniques I tried last year.
I learned about brain plasticity and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) last summer in one of the ME/CFS Internet forums I regularly visit. Someone had experimented with Ashok Gupta’s Amygdala Retraining program and said it really worked for him. Although a few people commented that the program didn’t really help them, many others recommended it. I figured it was worth trying, so I ordered the DVD program for $200. It came with a money-back guarantee if you didn’t improve. A win-win situation.
I started learning and practising the techniques last June and, in a couple of weeks, I felt and looked healthier than ever. Ironically, as my health improved, I started forgetting about the techniques. I was feeling great and quite happy about my health over the summer holidays.
When I returned to work in September life got a little more complicated. I began juggling work and home/family again and, by the end of October, I was struggling to keep all the ‘balls in the air’. My health had slipped back into a former, worse state.
Augustine Mandino wrote about how important it is not to “ allow yesterday’s success lull [us] into today’s complacency, for this is the great foundation of failure ”. Well, he was right. I had become so pleased with my accomplishment that I started taking my health for granted again and, as a result, I crashed big time. I had also been neglecting the brain-training techniques.
So now, eight months later, I decided to give the brain-training techniques another try. Before my sister and brother-in-law arrived I was still recovering from my dip at the end of May, so I was concerned about whether her visit would send my health spiraling down a path of no return. I had to do something. I suddenly remembered the NLP techniques from last summer and started doing them the day before my sister arrived. By the time she got here, I was feeling much better. I was elated- it was working!
All weekend, my husband kept asking me how I was feeling. He was surprised to see how active I was and that I felt fine. Mind you, I didn’t take part in any of the Grand Prix festivities, as that would surely have fast-tracked me down that dreaded path! But I did manage to go out for groceries and prepare and host a couple of dinners without experiencing any symptoms afterward. I just kept repeating the techniques over and over in my head when I got a chance. And my brain responded, proving that it is indeed quite adaptable.
After my sister left I know my husband half expected me to crash, but I didn’t. I just kept on doing the techniques, and
now I’ve even started taking my dog out for walks. I don’t expect to fully recover with the techniques, but I do hope to see a former semblance of myself. I will continue doing my brain-training exercises because I believe they are an important component to my recovery process.
For more information on brain plasticity and NLP go to my previous post here.