I hit the wall last night during a book group meeting and had to abruptly leave in the middle of our discussion. I literally ran to my car, feeling as if I would fall apart if I didn't get home, to my bed, as fast as possible. I felt as if my entire nervous system had short-circuited. Up until then, it had been a pretty normal - even good - day for me.
Tuesday's nasty wet weather had passed through, leaving my extra aches and exhaustion behind with it, the sun was shining, and I felt good. I felt like myself - able to concentrate and focus on what I wanted to do, able to write, even a bit energetic. I took a longer walk than usual - a whole 45 minutes! I wore my heart rate monitor and carefully stayed below my AT , but it was so nice to be out in the sunshine and feeling free.
I took my daily nap after lunch and jumped up at 3:15 to go meet my son at his soccer game. I was a little tired, but that's normal when I first wake up. I found the school and saw that their soccer field was a long, long walk from the parking lot, so I carried my chair and my bag over there and sat to watch the end of the game and chat with another mom. Craig and I came back home, and he wanted to watch TV, so I went up to my bedroom so I could finish my novel for book group. As I crawled into my bed, I realized I was feeling pretty achy, but I figured the rest would help me.
At 6 pm, I still hadn't finished the book (20 pages to go!), but it was time to meet my two closest friends for dinner. I was a bit worn out but attributed it to hunger and the late hour (we usually eat an early dinner to address Craig's and my low blood sugar). I drove over to the restaurant in my old VW convertible, enjoying the mild weather and fading sunshine. I thoroughly enjoyed dinner with my friends and getting caught up. I felt the beginnings of a headache but attributed it to waiting too long to eat. I took 1 Sudafed, hoping it wouldn't be too much too late to disturb my sleep, and the headache faded a bit.
The beginning of the book group meeting was great. We had a nice turn-out, and everyone had enjoyed the book. The discussion was lively and interesting. I felt fine at first, but gradually, symptoms began creeping in. My headache started to worsen. My legs began to feel achy - just a bit at first, then worse and worse. My face started to flush and I felt hot all over (obvious OI symptoms ). I tried elevating my legs, I drank lots of water, but nothing was helping. I was watching the clock now. We had started to discuss choosing our next book, so I thought I could make it to the end of the meeting. And, then, suddenly, I couldn't.
That phrase, "hitting the wall," is the perfect description. I just suddenly felt as if I could not stay in that chair for another moment. I abruptly stood up, grabbed my bag, made a quick apology, and fled. The top was still down on my car, and it was a cool evening, but the chill felt wonderful to me. I tore out of the parking lot and drove home as quickly as I could. I took big gulping breaths of the cold night air, feeling as if I'd been suffocating and suddenly had oxygen again. I got home in record time and went right up to bed. I wanted to get into comfy clothes but couldn't even manage that at first. I crawled into bed and under the covers and started sobbing uncontrollably, both from pain and discomfort, as well as relief. I was shaking. I've never been so glad to be home in my life.
When I calmed down a bit, I limped over to the dresser, peeled off my clothes, and pulled on my oldest, softest pajamas and big fluffy socks. I crawled under the covers again and picked up my book, thinking over and over how glad I was to be home. I was craving comfort - anything warm and soft. I just wanted to be a child again, to have someone put their arms around me and comfort me, tell me it was OK now, I was safe, and pat my back. I asked my husband for a cup of mint tea and slowly relaxed.
I woke this morning feeling as if someone had thoroughly beat me last night - sore and achy all over, exhausted. I am still craving comfort - wishing my mom were here to make me homemade custard like she did when I was a kid. I'm wearing soft yoga pants and an old t-shirt, bundled up in a fleece blanket, and still aching all over.
It was an unusual experience for me just because I can normally read the warning signs better than that. Even though the symptoms came on gradually over several hours, they seemed to come from nowhere. This is THE defining characteristic of ME/CFS, right? These sudden crashes - that is the only word to accurately describe it, a crash. Who knows what caused it this time? The long walk in the morning? Doing too much all week? The extra walk at the soccer game? Or perhaps even a viral trigger my son brought home from school - he spent 2 days earlier this week in a mild crash from being exposed to something at school.
Sometimes, it doesn't matter what caused it (and certainly, you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out), but isn't it amazing that this crazy illness can still surprise me like that after 10 years? Ambushed.