I have recently been reading about the despair when someone with M.E. goes into a severe relapse after being relatively well for many years. In fact it's possible to feel almost recovered and to have a 'normal' life. Then all of a sudden it changes over night and the person goes back to how they felt when they first became ill.
So how can this happen?
It seems that some people, including myself, have a remitting and relapsing form of M.E. and so there are good periods with unexpected relapses.
It's as if we have been fooled into believing that we are well and have recovered. No wonder so many people have trouble understanding this illness.
You fooled me
Made me believe
That I was well
You tricked me
Just like a spell
You deceived me
Made me behave
You cheated me
And made me think
I was healthy
You duped me
Gave me false hope
That illness was past
You fooled me
Now in a relapse
It did not last!
So what's going on?
The late Dr Elizabeth G. Dowsett said 'It is an unexpected deterioration in the condition of a sick person after partial recovery'.
What causes a relapse?
The late Dr Elizabeth G. Dowsett said 'The commonest causes of such a reverse in ME appear to be mental and physical over-exertion and stress or secondary illness (usually and infection, possibly a minor one) before recovery from the first.
So how can we avoid and manage a relapse?
You can read and learn more here in ME Matters
What is the difference between a relapse and post-exertional malaise?
Post-exertional malaise usually happens 24-48 hours after overexertion and there will be a worsening of symptoms. Recovery may be possible after rest and can be relatively short. It seems that a relapse is much more severe and can last weeks, months or even years.
It can be depressing and disheartening when in a relapse. I have been there a few times. However we have to hold on to hope that things will get better and that this is just temporary.
I'm not an expert but have learnt from my experiences and that of others. I know that I should never be fooled by any signs of improvement as it can all change very rapidly. Sure there are ways which we can try to avoid a relapse and I have tried to adopt these. It's the unpredictable nature of the illness that makes it difficult to manage.
So in the meantime DON'T BE FOOLED!
From the French Femme