Tag Archives: suffering

Carer or Sharer

This is a personal account of how I have lived with chronic illness for over thirty years and how it has been used to change my life. A husband’s viewpoint.

My wife was a real carer. It was part of her make-up. She would have made a good nurse, but gave herself sacrificially to being a mother, wife and home-maker.

After about nine years of marriage we moved to the Cornish coast because of my work. To live by the sea was like a dream come true. We saw it as a new start. Within the first year however, things began to go wrong.

My wife was already experiencing pain in her feet and not long after arrival, she was diagnosed with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive and disabling autoimmune disease. This ‘sentence’ came as a shock for her and she was quickly admitted to a hospital in Bath for three weeks specialist treatment. Within days of returning home however, she had news of her mother’s deteriorating health and travelled up country to see her. Her mother had painfully struggled for years with rheumatoid arthritis and it was our plan for her to come and live with us, once we had settled in and prepared a room for her.  Unfortunately this wasn’t to be, as she passed away ten days later. Continue reading

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under biography, Christian, disability, family, healing, health, health & wellness, illness, lifestyle, personal, relationships

The Pain and the Presence

Having suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome for a number of years has  given me a just an inkling of what it could be like for someone who has experienced far greater pain than me.

Lying here, Father,
I know You are there.
I don’t feel your Presence, but
I do feel the pain and discomfort
that tries to take over
and invade my fatigued soul.
Every aching muscle and sinew
vying for attention and
threatening to melt away the hope.

But as I look to You,
I know You are with me,
feeling my every feeling.
And as I keep on looking
and looking and looking,
reaching out to You,
minute by hour,
heart to Blessed Heart,
Your love seems to take over,
in a way I don’t understand.
Fear goes out the window,
faith and hope rise
and the pain grows dim
just for now –

2 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, chronic fatigue, healing, health, health & wellness, illness, lifestyle, personal, spiritual

How We Slayed Smaug the Dragon

How my wife and I, despite the restrictions of chronic illness, attempted the 2.3 mile walk through our local country park. A walk that for most people would be an amble, became for us, an expedition of Tolkienesque proportions.

It had been our ambition for a while and so there we were on the hottest day of the year, setting out on our adventure! Make no mistake, it would be a real accomplishment. From the car park to the front door of the inn at the other end, was twice the length of anything I had walked in the previous three years. It was a challenge, comparable in relative terms, to my climb up Ben Nevis, when I was fit! So not only were we praying for strength to get there and a lift back to our car, but for there to be no ill after-effects! It was going to be interesting – me with my chronic fatigue symptoms and my wife with her walking finally balanced in her custom-made boots.

We set out, like two excited children, with our ali-folders strapped to our backs and my vest pockets stuffed with wallet, mobile phone, drink, emergency rations, camera, keys and sketch books and pencils. Even though the sun was full and hot, there was a gentle breeze from the sea and the going was level and smooth. This was familiar territory, but even so, we marvelled at the abundant greenness and the occasional wild flower that escaped our detailed knowledge – well my wife’s at least!

It seemed no time at all that we arrived at the first pond. Ready for a rest, we unfolded our seats and out came the sketchpads to record what we saw. There was a single open lily on the water and two ducks with their fledgling offspring and a brand-new bright red fibreglass rescue apparatus. Not being so good at drawing birds, I concentrated on the view back to the sea. After a swig of the water bottle and a cereal bar off we set again.

We rounded the bend along the straight to the next seat overlooking the large pond. This was a real picture, with a mass of lilies in full bloom and the reflections glinting in the sun. We took note of the several strange plants, with a view to looking them up back home. I made two calculations; we were just over a third of the way and the pub stopped serving food soon after two! I wasn’t sure how these conflicting facts equated, but we continued with added stimulus.

The next stretch seemed longer than expected and even though the sun was slightly veiled in wispy cloud, we were feeling the heat. However, the bridge came into sight with the signpost for the Otter Trail, indicating just over a mile to go. We crossed the river and swung right along the opposite bank towards the entrance to the woods.

We passed the point of no return and were into unknown territory. I was reminded of the book “The Hobbit”, as it felt like we were leaving Wilderland and entering Mirkwood. There was no air of mystery though, just a warm shady coolness and the gurgle of the murky river, with the occasional fallen tree interrupting the flow. We kept a lookout for otters or even a kingfisher, but had to be satisfied with the occasional dragonfly.

Up to this point we had walked side-by-side, but because of the narrow path and our different attitudes to the physical demands, we were tending to ‘string out’ somewhat. We met several fit ‘oldies’ appropriately dressed in boots, shorts and Tilley hats, striding out with purpose, but we persevered in our own way. My wife had to be more careful to avoid exposed tree roots, steps in the raised decking or the occasional stretch of mud. Whereas I was aware of my aching muscles and trying to find the right pace between full stop and a headlong adrenalin race to reach the end.

We were definitely slowing down and made several stops. I took the odd photo, but neither of us sketched anymore, we were too focussed on reaching our destination. A passing couple informed us that it was only five minutes to the end. We mentally multiplied that by three and sure enough we emerged from the delightfully cool woods to the searing hot sunshine fifteen minutes later. That was the most difficult stretch, short as it was, it was very, very hot and the road busy. My dry tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and my eyes were on that pub doorway!

So we arrived at ‘Rivendell’ for our rest and refreshments. We pondered over the lunch menu as Ann the friendly and cool waitress hovered. I made for the bar to order drinks. I drooled over the tempting list of beers on draught, but dismissed the thought on considering what a pint of Tinners might do to my digestive system. I made a mental note however, to carry out a test in the next week or so, to see where I currently stood in that department! Just to sit in the cool bar room was a welcome relief and the hot chicken and bacon baguette made a real difference. I felt my limbs come back to life as my sugar levels rose. A lemon and lime, tomato juice and two coffees later we were ready to re-harness and hit the road back.

We set up our position in the searing sun. My wife was to do the thumbing, as I reckoned drivers were more likely to stop for her. In a few minutes several passed by, but weren’t inclined to stop. As I wondered if anyone would recognise us, a friend pulled in, wound down her window and called out. She turned the car around and took us all the way back to ‘Hobbiton’ and dropped us at our car, with just two minutes left on the ticket! How about that – we did it – praise God!

We felt like we’d been to the Lonely Mountain and slain Smaug the Dragon!

3 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, chronic fatigue, healing, health, health & wellness, lifestyle, personal, spiritual

The Fog of Fatigue

tn_fog.jpgI found one of the most horrible symptoms of CFS/ME, is what I call the fog of fatigue. To have aching and painful muscles and joints with little energy is bad enough, but it seems cruel that the fatigue creeps like a mist into the head as well. It felt like part of me had got left behind somewhere and was accompanied by feelings that I was growing old before my time.

At it’s worst my thinking became dulled and my short term memory would suddenly go. A reminder of the times when I had nodded off in the middle of a business meeting and was jerked to attention by being asked a question. Similarly, I would use all sorts of ploys to get round the problem. That was another aspect; I looked normal and healthy enough, but the cloud within had the effect of partially separating me from others.

Slowly I came to the conclusion that I needed this. My mind needed rest, so not to fight it, but try and go with the flow. Things wouldn’t fall apart if I had a fogged mind, in fact it was the way forward for me for a time.

The depth of fog fluctuated and could go on for days and weeks on end. Occasionally, as the fatigue lessened and I headed for recovery, the cloud would lift for a few hours or a whole day. My mind became icicle sharp and I could think straight. At first, the release and relief was such that I would cry with the joy of it – it was like being in heaven. The next day though everything turned back to ‘normal!’.

The most challenging aspect for me was that this fog interfered with prayer, which is my lifeline from God, my love source. I had to learn new ways of maintaining this relationship, which continue now even though the fatigue is less. Just to sit quietly, accepting in faith that Father is with me, even in me, is one of the most basic and powerful ways of prayer. As I surrender to Him there is a heart to heart bonding without words. I have even found that after an hour or so, tiredness and fatigue begin to diminish. Powerful stuff.

The other side of the coin is that fatigue has a way of slowing down the mental processes and can result in lethargy. Dare I say it, but it is even possible to accept the fatigued state as normal! So as a part of the recovery process, I find a need to be more disciplined, sharpen up and learn new ways. Not just in prayer and bible reading, but in my whole approach to life and the daily routine, because there is truth in the saying, “Use it or lose it!”

Not easy. It can seem like a hard battle at times, but not to forget that God is readily available. He’s on our side!

2 Comments

Filed under Christian, christian personal, Christianity, chronic fatigue, disability, healing, health, health & wellness, illness, Jesus, lifestyle, M.E., personal, spiritual

Does God Heal Chronic Fatigue?

tn_dove.jpgDivine Healing has been the subject of many books, periodicals, journals and essays and written from the whole gamut of viewpoints. I am not even attempting to go into this, I leave that to the theologians and biblical scholars. But with my wife suffering from an incurable chronic illness and then I am diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome – CFS/ME/CFIDS – with no complete medical cure, it sharpens things up and makes things much more personal. With my ‘back to the wall’ I have been desperate for answers and I looked to God for the solution.

I’ve been a Christian for many years. For some of the time I have struggled and have even been rebellious, especially in situations where it felt like I was being dragged by my hair through a hedge backwards. Even so, I have long believed in a God who heals. The Bible tells me so and this has been born out by what I have seen for myself. I have witnessed others being healed instantly and also experienced minor and gradual examples within our family.

I have long believed that healing was all part of the ‘salvation package.’ But I came to accept that you can’t receive the gift without receiving the Giver, and He has an interest in the whole of me – body, soul and spirit – He doesn’t split me up into compartments. I would love an immediate miraculous release and have been prayed for a number of times, but I believe that on the whole it is a gradual process, a journey of love. Right from the start, once I had tasted that love, I longed for more, it was something I needed. However, even though it comes without price, it costs and takes all I have.

If there was some wonder pill or food that I could take for an instant cure, I would probably be the first in line for it. I’ve always been the one to look for the quick escape. But circumstances have forced me to go ‘through’ and not hide from the difficult issues, emotional pain and troublesome memories long swept under the carpet where they fester away. As I have learned to face these things with Father, I have realised a greater degree of personal freedom and gradual emotional and physical healing.

I feel that many physical illnesses, especially auto-immune conditions like chronic fatigue can have an emotional and spiritual root cause and dealing with these is at least part of the solution. This doesn’t mean that I discount lifestyle issues, eating sensibly and carefully or even taking vitamin supplements. I have tried following a rigid diet regime, but this did not show results and tended to take over my life. Anything that can threaten to take over the love relationship that I am totally committed to, I am wary of.

So I am on the way and I am changing. I just cannot tell God how or when He is to heal me of course. If Jesus can restore a man’s hearing by spitting on his tongue and another’s sight by rubbing mud in his eyes, I need to be open to what He sends my way. I am expectant for more, much more. Some of the symptoms have gone and I am stronger. I still long to be fully healed, whatever that means, but I trust Father who knows what he is doing. I have a greater longing that has become my life.

4 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, chronic fatigue, disability, healing, health, health & wellness, illness, Jesus, lifestyle, M.E., personal, spiritual

Chronic Fatigue and Family

tn_family.jpgMy viewpoint as a husband and father – I’ve tried to keep it brief!

Chronic illness is a daunting challenge to a marriage relationship and family unit. Some say it can be make or break. In our case, we had a double whammy! Over thirty years ago my wife contracted a particularly aggressive form of rheumatoid arthritis and was told she could be in a wheelchair inside four years. Years later, long after our children had left home, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

My response to my wife’s diagnosis wasn’t surprising, as my upbringing hadn’t fitted me out to deal with illness. In my childhood, any suffering or indeed any expression of emotion within the family, was kept mainly under wraps. My way of dealing with these things was to do something practical to try and hold things together. I put everything into my work, family and helping out where I could within the community. I did most of the shopping, including, for a time, buying my wife’s clothes and became an expert in the intricacies of M & S’s lingerie department. Our children attended the village school and we became involved with the some of the other parents and attended the church. I ferried our children and their friends to the various activities.

My wife made her role of wife and mother her topmost priority and gave her all, often sacrificially, she had high standards. She was a good listener and it was quite usual for me to arrive home to find the pile of ironing still untouched, because she had given several hours to someone in need. I found that difficult, as she was the one needing physical help. But apart from several notable exceptions, there was little of that.

As the rheumatoid activity increased, she became more physically limited and fatigued. It was easy for me to leave for work in the morning and bury myself in my work while she often spent the day lying down. This was the side most people didn’t see. She found the pain and physical limitations were hard to bear and there were frequent outbursts of expression. I found it increasingly painful to watch my wife, my loved one, in so much pain and distress and I felt so horribly helpless. One night when it got so bad I went down on to our beach in the dark and in desperation reached out to God from the depths of my being, imploring Him to help us.

I felt trapped by the illness and restricted, held back. Once, I was asked if I had thought of leaving and I can honestly say that was never ever on the agenda. We married because I loved her and was committed to our marriage. On the other hand I wanted to escape from the illness, I hated what it was doing.

In our search for understanding, we were led over the years along a path of Christian contacts. We learned new marriage communication skills and how to deal with the emotional pain that was bubbling away just below the surface. I also found healing and release from the grief and loss I was experiencing. Our attitudes changed and in particular people were noticing how well my wife was walking and the courageous way she was dealing with her illness.

Then I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome ME/CFS and I had a new battle to contend with. For the first time I was able to understand first hand what fatigue was like and I benefited from my wife’s experience. The effect this had was to draw us closer together than ever before.

So far as our children are concerned, yes, they did miss out on some things, they can hardly remember their mother well. But I believe the experience has enriched them and we are proud of the way they now handle themselves, their marriages and children.

The last two years have been the most difficult for us, our lives being battered by accidents and illnesses. But in it all we have continued to experience wonderful strengthening and enabling to do what seemed impossible. I don’t know what the future holds, but we know God is with us and the best is yet to come!

5 Comments

Filed under Christian, Christianity, chronic fatigue, disability, family, healing, health, health & wellness, lifestyle, M.E., personal, relationships, seniors, spiritual

Father’s Touch

tn_boy-and-hands-2.jpg

This is a pencil sketch I did, based upon an old magazine cutting that really caught my imagination.

This is a pencil sketch I did, based upon an old magazine cutting that really caught my imagination.

The boy is looking directly into the adult’s eyes – let’s assume it was his father – and it’s clear he sees total loving acceptance. See how his father gently touches the boy’s cheek and places a reassuring hand upon his shoulder.

It’s as if his father could be saying:

I am really proud of you
I’m so glad you told me this
I’ve often felt the same
There’s no need to feel shame
I know it’s hard for you at the moment
but you’ll come through
You are doing so well
and I am with you all the way.

I know I am an adult but there have been times when the fatigue has threatened to overpower, and I have wondered how much more I could take, when I have need to hear similar words from my Father God. They spur you on, lift the shame, encourage and empower.

4 Comments

Filed under art, artist, Christian, Christianity, chronic fatigue, creativity, family, healing, health, illness, M.E., personal, relationships, spiritual