Well that was a spectacular three month crash. It started roughly January 1st. I thought I would recover if I just stayed in a bed a few days. Not a chance. By February, I was canceling most of my appointments. I am now behind in my ob/gyn, dentist and regular physician check ups. By mid-March I was bed bound and thinking that I just might pass from this earth. Yup. It was that bad. I spent a day almost comatose. I couldn't move. I could barely talk. Once every few hours I managed to flop over to my other side only to fall "asleep" again. I'm not sure if I was actually sleeping. My eyes were closed and my brain just floated in and out of consciousness. Kind of scary. Hubs was worried. All I know was that anything and everything made me worse.
Then, two miracles happened. I saw my chiropractor who did a major fix on my neck. I saw some instant results. My foot dropping/foot dragging walk went away. And within six hours I was sitting up and back on the computer. The next day was the first nice sunny day of 2012. I went out into my yard, found a private spot, took my top off and did a little topless sunbathing. I baked myself about half an hour a side for a full one hour of exposure. The only thing I had on was really short shorts. By the next day I was doing a few dishes, cooking and walking around the house unassisted. This was last week. Yesterday I drove for the first time since last year.
I'm still a bit of a mess. I can't read or write much without my brain rapidly turning to mush. I still can't walk any significant distances. A few tens of feet at a time. I still can't stand for long. Even riding in the car still makes me feel like I was on a tilt-a-whirl. But I'm better than I was.
So what happened?? Since I have been teetering on the edge of functionality it is very easy to see when things don't agree with me. Bad food. Bad sleep. Bad med reactions. They all put me in bed. Over the course of several chiropractic visits, we saw repeated near instant improvement of function with the adjustment of my neck. I have had several very serious neck injuries so my guess is that either nerve signals are being blocked or the flow of cerebral spinal fluid gets blocked or reduced. As soon as he gets my neck back into place, things start working again and I start to see rapid improvement in my condition. I have determined that I can NOT skip weekly chiro visits. If I do, I end up stuck in bed.
Theory number two: sunlight is good you. There are several points I want to make here and they are going to get jumbled up cuz my brain is starting to stutter so bear with me.
First, I ran across Stephanie's (an MIT prof) work last year. She claims that we need at least a half hour of sun exposure over most of our skin surface everyday to get the needed vitamin D into our system. The sun also generates sulfur in our bodies which is needed for glucose metabolism among other things.
There are probably other posts I've missed but her site is a treasure trove of information that I haven't been able to fully unpack yet. If my brain starts working again, you can be sure I'll be back reading her material again.
Second: Dr. Bell tracked his CFS patients for decades. He found that recovery took place beginning during the second year of illness. However, it was not a linear progression and often halted or reversed during the winter months. Where was his patients? In upstate NY. Even further north than me. They lived in a fairly isolated small town out in rural countryside so they probably all ate the same stuff and did the same things (big assumption on my part). So what is the only factor that varies on a cyclic basis like this?? Sun exposure.
Third: (I just found this out a couple of days ago) Going on a Paleo style diet causes chemical changes in the skin allowing people to stay out in the sun longer without burning. I had noticed this in myself last fall and assumed it was because of the CFS when in fact it was the change in diet.
So, linking all of this together in a very unscientific fashion educated guess kind of way, I've been trying to get out into the sun as much as possible. Last week was the first week that we had temps over 60F. You bet I was out on my deck as often as possible. And I seem to have had some very positive results from it! Of course this is all anecdotal. The Paleo diet might be a huge piece of this body chemistry puzzle. I just don't know. I haven't heard anything from anyone in the CFS community regarding their reactions to sun exposure. BTW, one odd thing, if I sit out in the sun for a long period of time I'm exhausted when I get back into the house and have to go sleep for a while. Something major is definitely going on. I just don't know what exactly.
My most recent round of blood work bears out the deficit of vitamin D in my system. I'm on the low side of normal even though I've been taking large doses of it all winter. I don't know if my body can't absorb it via the digestive route or I'm missing the sulfur that I need along with it. For me, direct sunlight exposure seems to be the best fix.
I was still walking and reading in late December so the decline didn't happen until after the winter solstice. My recovery happened at the vernal equinox. A coincidence?? We'll have to wait until next winter to see if I have another winter crash to confirm my hypothesis.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to having my morning tea on the deck tomorrow. It is going to be 50F tomorrow so no topless sunbathing but there will definitely be some belly warming going on.