I wish I had a long, clever, in-depth answer as to why our symptoms get worse when we have a common ailment like a cold or the flu, or when we have our periods but I don’t. The only thing I know is that it totally sucks, especially if you’re a woman and it’s that time of the month. What sucks almost as much as a worsening of ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia & IC symptoms is trying to explain to your boss, co-workers, or anyone else who depends on you for things as to why you can’t come to work or have to back out of a commitment. Trying to get away with saying just the easiest explanation of “I’m sick” usually doesn’t offer enough information. When we go into further detail to try and explain our absence, the thoughts that normal people think are: “I/other people work with their periods/colds. Why can’t she?”
My answer has just simply become “I had a flare” and I leave it at that. There’s no use trying to explain that a cold, the flu, another common ailment, or your period caused you to relapse. No one gets it. I don’t even get it sometimes.
In my own personal experience, my period causes a whole flood of symptoms to reappear that seem to go into hiding other times of the month. My Interstitial Cystitis symptoms take over and my already few hours of sleep a night lessen even more with the increasing nighttime bathroom visits. The one bright spot of my cycle is the worsening of fatigue (I know – how can CFS fatigue POSSIBLY get any worse?) does cause me to sleep more, but it’s usually during the day. But I’ll take it where I can get it. The pain and weakness in my body is excruciating and my prescription pain pill count increases for the first couple of days during my cycle to help get me through. CFS headaches become so bad that the slightest noise causes major thumping and pounding in my head. The normal night sweats from the CFS become like a visit to the sauna the first couple of cycle days and I can’t seem to take enough off to get cooled down. I keep the upstairs as cool as I can and if it weren’t for my family, I would have the windows open in the middle of winter.
Just thinking about going to the gym will make my thighs and back hurt. I have been faithful with going every other day. Today was my day to go but I couldn’t even muster up enough strength to get dressed let alone get to the gym to exercise.
How about the common cold or the flu? A cold will cause the bladder to spasm like crazy in an IC patient and the pain is sharp and stabbing. Trips to the bathroom increase and we may have to wear Depends or pads in order to keep from wetting through all of our underwear everytime we sneeze or cough. In a Fibromyalgia or CFS patient, a cold can leave us with extreme fatigue and stuck in the house wrapped up with a box of tissues for longer than the normal person. The flu is even worse. When I get the flu, it can take as long as weeks to recover. The vomiting and diarrhea will end long before the strength comes back.
There are a lot of us CFS, IC & Fibro patients who really fear getting sick because we know that we can’t just get back to normal living after a few days. I have become very paranoid about germs and being around people who are sick. I get really upset if someone who knows my history comes around me or brings their kids around me when they are sick. I find it disrespectful and rude and I can’t help but get annoyed by it. I know some people think I worry too much about germs and getting sick but they don’t have to deal with it like I do.
I won’t even volunteer as much at my son’s school as often as I really could because of being around all of the kids, the colds, sneezing, coughs and germs. The schools are a breeding ground for sickness. I make Logan take hand sanitizer and he gets quizzed frequently to find out how often he is using it, when he uses it and if anyone in his class is sick. When he gets sick or someone in his class is sick, I get sick.
Chronic illness, colds, flu and menstrual cycles do nothing but cause even more misery to already unhealthy lives we lead. I want to be happy and to feel good. I get so frustrated when I have more of my time spent wasted on the couch or in bed. I want to be useful and for my life to have more meaning than this.