(I just love that song from the movie Madagascar!)
I'm feeling better and getting caught up after my week-long crash. Just some mild congestion left, but my energy is back. I even went skiing today! Now don't get too excited. By "skiing", I mean that I wiped the cobwebs off my cross-country skiis and boots, strapped them on, and took a few laps around my house in the quarter-inch of snow left from yesterday. I can't imagine what my neighbors must think!
Those 10 minutes of skiing left me out of breath (though happy!) and worrying that I might have done too much. How crazy is that?
Before you knew about CFS, would you ever have believed there was an illness that made exercise BAD for you? I wouldn't have. It's just surreal sometimes, isn't it? We're surrounded with advice and admonitions - from TV, magazines, the internet - that we have to exercise more in order to be healthy. Not a day goes by that I don't read or hear of another benefit of exercise. It just seems insane to me that something that is so good for the rest of the population can make me so sick. My mom was telling me this weekend that one of the reasons she loves her Jazzercize class is because being with other people motivates her to work harder and helps to get her heart rate higher. I said, "That's exactly why I can't go to a class!" We laughed, but it's absurd, isn't it?
For me, the exercise intolerance is at the heart of CFS. It is the single aspect of this complex illness that affects my life more than any other (I'm very fortunate to experience almost no cognitive dysfunction). Before I had CFS, I was very active and LOVED to exercise - hiking, biking, aerobics classes, dancing, weight training...I loved it all! I loved the feeling of moving my body, breathing deeply, feeling alive. I miss that so much. When I daydream of being well again, that's what I think about - all the active things I want to do.
I'm grateful that, on a good day, I can take a slow walk or do 30 minutes of gentle yoga, but I yearn to move without limits again. The toughest part is that the response to exercise is delayed. I could do much more - and enjoy it! - but then I'd be flat on my back for a day or two (or more). It is so hard to hold myself back on days when I feel good.
I just keep hoping that some CFS researcher is going to discover the secret behind exercise intolerance and how to treat it. Maybe? Someday?