Anyone who's ever felt that 'run down' feeling, had that cold that they just couldn't shake or experienced the nagging feeling that they're body is acting years beyond what it should be, has had a glimpse into what many Chronic Fatigue Sufferers cope with every single day.
For me, CFS made me feel as though my body was working against me, betraying me even, willingly taking on each and every ache, pain and infection that it could, while stubbornly refusing to respond to any amount of rest (and there was plenty, trust me) that I tried to tempt it with. I've lost days, weeks, even months to bed rest, experienced 'phantom' bodily pains that radiate from muscles whose only task was to take me from the bedroom to the kitchen and back again, and succumb to a constant foggy sensation inside my brain, that at times made even holding a basic conversation a real strain.
This invisible disease (as there are no widely accepted medical indications that produce a diagnosis, more likely that comes from whittling down the possibilities through a barrage of tests until CFS is what you're left with), can leave sufferers feeling defeated. For me personally, I believe that my 8 year journey with CFS was sparked by one of several (or the combination of all) viral infections that I acquired within a short space of time. Regardless. my immune system was never the same and my relationship with antibiotics get pretty serious there for a while.
Funnily enough though, pregnancy has (at least for now) snapped me out of a lot of the CFS symptoms that hung around me every day. According to the New Jersey Chronic Fatigue Association, 1 in 3 women suffering with CFS will see their symptoms improve during pregnancy, while 1/3 will stay the same and the last unlucky 1/3 may even see them worsen (my heart truly goes out to them).
It may be that the seemingly endless list of pregnancy hormones contribute to these changes - either way it's suggested that pregnant CFS sufferers should prioritize extra rest for themselves and baby. Easier said than done, right? Folic acid is suggested to help steady some symptoms and wouldn't you know it, that's great for baby too! It's also possible that the usual pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness and body aches could be more acute in CFS sufferers, but evidence is limited and anyone who's had any experience with this disease will assure you that this is not a 'one size fits all' kind of an ailment. You just never know what you're going to get. Just watch out for medications (including herbal supplements) that you may be taking for CFS, as many of these are not suggested during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
So What Helped Me?
For me a few things have helped to alleviate the worse of my symptoms. I take Folic Acid and B12 supplements religiously (I was on 5000mcg Folic Acid and 1000mg B12 a day before the hubster did his 'job', but reduced the Folic Acid to 800mcg a day and stopped the B12 totally, upon the advice of my healthcare providers), I juice at least once daily (LOTS of raw, dark leafy greens, carrots and fruits high in Vitamin C - although when morning sickness first hit me this was toughy!), I invest in meditation and relaxation exercises (I really believe there's a benefit to giving your body an uninterrupted opportunity to heal itself) and lowered stress in my life by taking off a few months from work (kinda had to since I acquired 4 difference infections; ear, throat, sinus and jawbone all at the same time - less than fun!)
Stress is a BIG trigger for me. When the world climbs on my shoulders, I buckle health wise. This I've had to learn over time, but it's a lesson I'm grateful for and now I chose to adapt in order to keep my standard of living as high as possible. I'm not sure what lies ahead for me and CFS once the baby is born. I don't know how much I will struggle, if I'll be prone to sickness again or if I'll maintain improvement. I do know though, that it's not worth worrying about (that'll only make any symptoms I do have, worse) and that all I can do it continue to work towards my goal of a full and active life. Keep Calm and Juice On!
Right, I think it's about time I go for a much needed midday snooze (baby demands it!) - Have a Happy Wednesday Y'all!
Please swing by and check out my blog, chock full of pregnancy tips, musings and beyond! www.theblossomingbump.com
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