The irony of sitting in a London cafe and waiting 90 minutes to muster up the physical strength to walk a hundred yards into the shop to get the hiking boots I really wanted wasn't lost on me. I have the boots like a talisman now. I will need them and I will use them.
I started crashing the last couple of weeks before I left the country. It's not very surprising with Christmas and the countdown of planning and packing. The real mistake was walking far too far (for me) for three days in a row.
The reality that I would be about to embark on the longest trip of my life with ME symptoms like this occasionally loomed in the distance like clouds. It has felt disconcerting and even occasionally a little sad. But I haven't properly crashed for months now. I hope I can turn this into little more than a blip that has shown me my limits. I know how to manage things far better now. I know not to panic.
I liked the idea of setting off from our tiny local station and my parents saw me off. I couldn't tell them how grateful I was for looking after me this past year. My Mum, Catherine just smiled and said "Thank you for getting better". I got to the airport, fairly lightly packed and feeling good. Very ready for this adventure. I turned down the mobility assistance my physio has asked me to book as back up, much preferring to be free to do my own thing and walk onto the plane.
I wasn't very far past security when I truly started to dip again. To the point where I didn't feel I could move. It's a feeling of exhaustion that can leave you fighting back tears. I wolfed down some food, heard my flight to Dubai was boarding and started to look for someone in a purple fleece who could help me. I didn't find anyone on the way to the gate. I finally found the Virgin executive lounge, made my way up the slinky glass staircase and virtually collapsed in front of the attendants explaining I needed help.
A few minutes later the wheelchairs came. A single one, later an extended golf buggy, finally a row of 5 chairs all strung together controlled by one driver like a 5 year old's make believe bus. They carried my small pack onto the plane and I sunk into my seat, crying in a funny mix of relief and exhaustion as the plane took off. This thing I had been plotting and planning for months was finally happening.
The hard thing about this crash is that it has reminded me of how it used to feel all the time. Every waking moment. In fact this was how I used to wake up. This isn't that bad. I'm no longer sunk down the bottom of a well so deep the sunlight hovers somewhere, a kilometre above above you like a penny. A tiny shimmer of an ordinary life so barely, discernibly in front of you it can only feel out of reach.
It isn't such a terrible thing to be reminded of where I was, right now. I had no idea of how to get out from down there. This is how far I have come. And here I am shooting through the sky again. This has been the hardest thing I have ever done. And now I mostly just feel crazily lucky.
An ME/CFS Thriver