I just finished mowing the lawn. I don’t think mowing the lawn is supposed to make a forty-nine-year-old feel like she’s almost going to have a heart attack and crying, shaking, and stumbling at the end because she’s now exhausted to the bones for the effort. I am alone and I truly can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me. Some days I can do it without this much drama but I’ve been in a CFS relapse for the last two months.
This is life is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, where the body doesn’t make enough energy at the cellular level to even properly fuel the body’s organs. Nobody dies of CFS, at least that’s not what’s written down as cause of death, they die of “heart failure”, “liver failure”, etc. Because there’s not enough energy the body receives damage to the organs and then because there’s also not enough energy to heal them, the body finally gives out like a worn-out shoe.
I’ll explain how this is related to being scapegoated in my situation but first please allow me this rant. I hate the name of this disease – people with this aren’t “tired”, we’re hit with a baseball bat and thrown to the side of the road of life. There are days of being bedridden even at a good level of “recovery” (there is no full recovery for most and it’s very rare when it happens) but relapses are inherent in the disorder and they can throw a person back to how they felt two years ago, say, when their body wouldn’t let them out for the bed for weeks.
How is this made worse for me? I was already all alone, isolating myself more and more through life out of fear of rejection. I was divorced from a gaslighting husband with my sanity still intact but now reliant on my own for income – I was a nanny back then and not making much at all. Poverty began to be the cloak I found myself wearing although I knew I was destined for it even before marriage by ways I won’t mention in this post.
All this started years ago when I found myself slowly unable to function at my last well-enough-paying job until one day I was literally unable to move out of bed. It was the strangest thing. I felt pinned to the mattress, my heart feeling like it was going to jump out of my chest if I mustered enough strength to sit up. Sitting up felt like someone was pushing me back flat on the mattress while I struggled to roll on my elbow to be used as leverage to rise. I found myself there for the next three years in a health nightmare.
I didn’t have a husband or children to vacuum, get food, nothing. I had just enough energy to get to the washroom stooped over and then fall back into bed again. In a herculean feat I would every four or five days manage to pull on some clothes and drive one block away to my small town’s gas station that also held some grocery items. I’d buy a few things like frozen pizzas that didn’t need effort to be able to be eaten.
I needed help. Desperately. I didn’t know what I had as I never heard of someone being so exhausted for so long before so I couldn’t intelligently articulate to other what I was going through because I feared they would think I was exaggerating. My doctor at the time said I was depressed even though I described to him the level of exhaustion. I was depressed before and this wasn’t the same kind of tiredness. I told my parents I didn’t have any energy. They lived twenty minutes away in the city and, because they thought I was depressed, they not once came to help. Even if I had been depressed, which I wasn’t, I still would have needed help, but I was on my own.
It was a nightmare. I don’t know how I made it through. I don’t know why no one helped me on their own. I know, though, that I didn’t have the confidence to stand up for myself and get community help like home-care or see what resources there was for me out there because I was afraid no one would believe me, not having a diagnosis and not knowing what was wrong with me. I needed an advocate and someone to take my part for me but I had only myself to rely on and I didn’t have the energy to help myself.
I was later diagnosed by a different doctor in a new town I moved to where homes were less expensive than even the one I already had. My mortgage was tiny and cheaper than rent but something in me (from God) told me I needed an even smaller mortgage. With my diagnosis I had something to look up and started to research how to improve my circumstances. Excellent whole food nutrition was the leading manner in which to help my body heal, and I began on that where I could afford it.
I’m now subsisting on a small disability income so my illness has now firmly placed me in poverty. I am so grateful for the disability income, though, as it’s relieved a lot of stress of how I was going to keep food in the house so I can concentrate on keeping my recovery level at an acceptable level. I can now do a little daily maintenance so I can have a relatively clean house, which is a huge for my morale.
But I’m still alone. My family is aware of my diagnosis and the information of what CFS actually is and how it can destroy people’s lives is all out there. They’d just have to look it up. They haven’t bothered and it’s like they resent me more. I’ve now PROVEN to them what a loser I am and they come across like they find it galling that I’m in a place of need. I read in Proverbs the other day: (Proverbs 14: 20-21)
20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends
21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Of course they will despise me as it is the way with people unless they are found in God and love the ways of God and, therefore, their neighbour. If I had a sister who was alone and ill and had trouble being able to feed herself as I was, I would be all OVER that situation. If I even just had a neighbour, let alone a family member, that was in that predicament I would help. So we are talking of a severe difference in how my family and I see our roles and responsibilities to people in need. My wish would be to give someone in such a place dignity and peace of mind in taking care of things for them, while my family finds it an opportunity to sneer and distance themselves.
That is their spiritual road. I’ve gone no-contact with my siblings and I leave them to it. I am done trying to call them and be friends with them just to be rebuffed over the years. God Himself will meet them to change them as He chooses, but I leave them with no wish of harm but in God’s hands. My battered heart needs to be far from them as it heals along with my body.