Two and a half years ago, I said to my husband how fortunate we were to have a family with so few health issues. Only the standard colds and viruses picked up at school (I’m a teacher) and from our kids.
We lived in beautiful Coogee, spent sunny winter days at the beach and though we faced the normal exhaustion and frantic pace of life that is parenting and working in Sydney, life was pretty awesome.
In August 2015 everything changed.
After a long-awaited, eagerly saved-for trip to the snow, all four of us came down with influenza B. Everyone recovered, but my downward spiral into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalitis, reactive arthritis and fibromyalgia began. When it first hit, I hobbled into the doctor’s office like a 90-year-old.
Over the next five months I was making weekly trips to my amazing GP, or any one of five specialists, in the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. And I’ve had two kids. Childbirth was a breeze compared to this. If doctors offered frequent flyer points, New York, New York baby!
My rheumatologist said it would all be over by January 2016. A bit of post-viral fatigue and reactive arthritis, no problem. End date in sight. Thanks to a serious amount of medication, I even climbed up mountains at Thredbo over the summer holidays. MOUNTAINS. See, look, me on a mountain. All I had to do is was either go for a swim or clutch ice packs in my hands or put them on my feet and I could generally cope with the pain and so I soldiered on. I’m a mum and a teacher, it’s how we roll.
It probably should have been a clue to slow down when I made three trips to emergency over two months due to the agonising fire in my bones. Describe your pain, they said! Like I've been kneecapped, there’s fire and knives burning in my feet, hands, upper back. It's like waking up each morning feeling as though I had slept on a slab of concrete - with nails?