Haven’t been logging for a while.... been a bumpy 6months (not just with corona).
After China last year I came home with this absolute overarching feeling of fatigue which I initially put down to end of season/post viral crash and took a planned few weeks off.
I had had some sort of horrendous viral thing in China which I can only imagine is what having coronavirus might be like - a lot of people have joked to me about being patient zero or conspiracy theories about where the virus actually originated, but whatever I picked up was on the plane from Amsterdam as I could feel my throat before we even landed. I felt so unwell in the following days that I went out to the middle race just so I wouldn’t be in the hotel myself and had people around in case I took a nose dive... stupidly I got out and got myself going and started the race to all but immediately pull out. I ran possibly the worst race of my life in the MSR but Anna wanted to run 4th so I wanted to start so the others could run. After a day off I felt a little better in the Sprint and had the best Aus girls result, ill put down to a good technical race, but in reflection I was not in a good way in China and the symptoms seem to just have never fully gone away.
My time off in Nov didn’t improve anything and I was finding myself increasingly fatigued from work and generally unmotivated going into dec/christmas time. I spoke to the doc in nov(who was unhelpful - told me not to focus on ferritin due to lack of research and instead take more echinacea... hmm) and a few other people and decided to focus on my ferritin levels - take a few more weeks off, get them up and have a delayed start to winter training... just sort of muddling on through trying to do bits tired until then. At my request the doc did full bloods, thyroid, Lyme disease - a whole bunch... all came back normal but ferritin was right at the bottom of the normal scale.
Still no improvement after a month or so of iron in jan so I decided to bite the bullet and pay an extortionate amount of money to speak with a sports doc. She thoroughly went through everything with me and suggested a few things to check; for asthma, bone density, and discuss my coil with the doc and about potentially removing that to eliminate any (if even small) unwanted normal response.
By this point I was going through a constant pattern of trying to build up training for a week or two then crashing and picking up a bunch of flu symptoms every other week... having a week off, getting rid of most symptoms, starting again and following the same pattern. I had joined a gym in order to get sessions done straight after work and completely stopped exercising outside in the cold air in hope to get back to normal training avoid the chest irritations.
I took two weeks off work in feb and went and visited Kirsten (who’s been a great support to chat to) and then went on to the Lidingo camp which all seemed quite positive and although feeling tired and uneasy I had a reasonably good week of training and enjoyed the sun. I’m going to put this down to time of work, warm weather and being in a new environment as I then came back to the UK straight into a work trip and had my biggest crash yet a week later.
I took my sports doc letter to my GP and she basically insinuated that the doc had no credentials and doing these tests was a waste of time and that if I had a persistent cold I would feel like I had asthma which was frustrating after all I’d payed. This was the point when I just broke down a bit; I knew I didn't just have a cold and how ongoingly fatigued and unmotivated I have been was not normal and the anxiety of what might be wrong with me and frustration of getting fobbed off by the GP just sent me downhill. I went back a week later on my birthday and was told that although seriously unlikely with the amount of hormone that I was probably depressed as a hormonal response to my coil and to get that removed.
This was when corona all kicked off and getting that removed proved to be futile and a complete nightmare! The cord had coiled up so the GP couldn’t remove it, SH in Sheff had closed for corona, I went down to my parents place and SH in Bath tried unsuccessfully and left me in quite a bit of pain and distressed, so two days later I ended up in A&E and then gyne in Bath (who felt this wouldn’t stop the fatigue but I was being given the run around) and they eventually managed to get it out.
A few weeks later there was still no improvement from having this removed so I spoke to yet another GP in Sheff and finally I found someone who was actually willing to converse with me instead of giving me some flippant try this answer. She suspected post viral chronic fatigue but couldn’t do a whole lot at the time as everything was halted for corona. When she called again a fortnight later she suggested I go on some anti anxiety meds to eliminate the mental fatigue until we could get the last blood tests done and start a CFS program.
They have helped a lot and eventually I felt like I could start doing some very light movement (walking, yoga etc) again instead of being a zombie in front of the tele from dawn till dusk. Then I got my first period since getting the coil out and it was the worst I think I have ever had! I think I probably lost a half pint of blood, which is not incomprehensible but its a lot for a period and a bit of a blow when your bodies already constantly struggling to repair, stave off illness and build up strength. It was just another set back.
Two weeks later I was able to get the last blood tests done; coeliacs, glandular, imuno markers etc and they all came back normal, so she has now diagnosed me with post viral CFS - 6months later (which I guess is a reasonably normal timespan for diagnosis.... but I cant put words to how long winded this has been and how messed around I’ve felt). 7 weeks after the other GP told me the fatigue was caused by depression I finally managed to get an appointment with the mental health services - I explained to them where I was at and that I didnt feel this was correct but I was anxious about this CFS and the process of dealing with it so they have put me on a course for how to manage it. I know the NHS is stretched (now more than ever) but I feel for anyone who is really truly suffering from depression left to their own devices for 7 weeks before they can begin talking to someone.
3 weeks on again and I feel like I am starting to build a little strength... I still have good and bad days and am taking each as they come but I have managed to start some yoga, light S&C and C25K (which feels like such a cop out from where I was last year but) its about what I can manage sustainably and I’m hoping will be the very slow start to pacing that will get me back to normal. My body is still taking such a long time to recover... after doing 10mins of S&C I feel the next day as if Ive run a World Cup long and I get early warning signs when I’m overdoing it as my neck gets so sore and glands get all swollen which is pretty common with CFS.
This whole thing has been so shit and frustrating after two great years but perhaps I was pushing it packing so much into life and snowballing small illnesses... perhaps China was the straw that broke the camels back. I have finished working at Virgin and moved onto a new contract now at U&R and I feel confident that I can balance life a little better again when it gets back to normal and will definitely try taking a new approach to work/training balance.
I’m possibly one of the few people out there that corona has indirectly been a blessing for... Lockdown came at the time where I would have been looking at going on sick leave and has taken all the work/money/training and race pressures out of my life and allowed me a few months just to rest and a year to relax about trying to build back up. I have also been lucky to have so much support, particularly from Nathan and both of our parents who have just looked after me every single day and tried to keep me occupied and in good spirits.
So I’m sure it’ll still be bumpy but here’s to hoping its onwards and upwards from here!