Personal Stories: Unwanted Houseguests
By Rochelle Shepherd
One day two sisters came to reside in my body. Although they share many of the same characteristics, they are not identical twins. Sometimes they travel alone, but often they travel together. One is named chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, for short) and the other is named fibromyalgia. As it is with some houseguests, these sisters were totally uninvited and unwelcome, but they barged in anyway. And as with most unwanted houseguests, they demanded my full attention and turned my inner household upside-down.
I thought that surely they would leave after a week or two. But weeks turned into months and months turned into years . . . and 17 years later, they are still boarding with me. Just as they have been an extreme burden to me, I have gone to extreme measures in my attempts to annoy them and make them pack up and move out of “Hotel Rochelle.” I’ve bombarded them with antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, nutrients, herbal supplements, vitamins, massages, pain medications and sleep medications. Yet the sisters are still here!
Not only have they wreaked havoc on my inner household, but they have upset the whole balance of things—like running a household, raising children, being a spouse, working a job and going out with friends. CFS and fibromylagia hunker down and hang around. By now, the kids are grown, the spouse is gone, and now it’s just me and the dog.
But I’m thankful for the dog. Some days she is the only thing that makes me fight back against my houseguests. On good days I walk her and appreciate my surroundings outside. Other days I walk her with tears running down my face from pain or depression. But I still keep moving.
A friend taking me out to dinner is a big treat these days, since so many days are “bed and bath” days—and I don’t mean a shopping trip to the household superstore of the same name. I mean days that I am either lying in bed on a heating pad or soaking in a hot bath.
I know that there are many people who are in much worse shape than I am because of these same unwanted houseguests. So I try to remain as positive as I can and hope for a day when all of us who are suffering from the presence of CFS and fibromyalgia can hang an eviction notice around our necks and give these two the boot!
Rochelle Shepherd has been a CFIDS Association member and donor since 1997. She lives in Loveland, Ohio, a small town north of Cincinnati.
The CFIDS Association of America is dedicated to conquering chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is also known as chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). Your donations fund our work.
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