Young, Sick and Invisible

My illness has shaped me,
But it does not define me.

Guest Post: 'Mikaela's Story.'


Dramatic sunset

My name is Mikaela. I have four cats. Three are calico and one is a Siamese mix. They are the loves of my life. I am happily childfree. I have had chronic migraines since I was a kid and I was recently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I did a lot of volunteer work which I really enjoyed before I was diagnosed. I taught ESL and volunteered with a german shepherd rescue and two cat rescues. I had to cut out everything except for one of the cat rescues.

I am a veterinary receptionist at a small animal hospital. I am still able to work, but some days I wish I could call out. I am hoping to reduce my hours in the near future.

I've had migraines since as long as I can remember. On the first day of first grade, I had one and vomited in the classroom. As far as the CFS, I remember waking up more tired than when I went to sleep and that feeling has yet to go away.

30th Birthday haircut

The diagnosis of migraines was fairly easy. However, I don't tolerate medications very well and for many years, I was seeing different doctors and they just kept offering me different medications, none of which worked and some of which I had bad side effects.

Prior to my CFS diagnosis, I thought I might have lyme. I had two negative lyme tests so that was ruled out. I have had many blood panels, none of which show any abnormalities. I have had a HIDA scan, abdominal ultrasound, and an upper GI endoscopy. All of those tests were normal as well.

My regular doctor has been extremely supportive, though she hasn't been able to help alleviate my symptoms. I have searched the internet, specifically Pinterest. I have joined a few support groups on Facebook as well.

When I have a flare, I feel like I have the flu. I am completely exhausted, every joint hurts, my muscles hurt, and I have no appetite. Walking up and down the steps to feed my cats leaves me out of breath and I barely have any energy to do anything other than sit on the couch all day. I also have aphasia and sensitivity to touch, or allodynia. Even my hair hurts some days. I can tolerate fleece, but any other fabric is generally painful or uncomfortable. Regulating my body temperature is an everyday struggle.

Sometimes CFS is like waking up the day after winning a sports championship and drinking too much to celebrate. My flares vary, but most don't last longer than a few days. My main triggers are my sleep schedule, certain foods, and overexerting myself.

Weightloss

I currently take ranitidine every day and many antacids as needed. I've tried too many migraine medications to name. Elavil helped my migraines for a short time, but then the manufacturer was changed and they stopped working.

My biggest tip would be that it's okay to take it easy even on the days you feel well. You don't have to be perfect and you don't have to do it all. Do what you can and focus on the positive things in your life.

With the CFS, I feel pretty useless at work a lot of the days. It's impacted my focus. I have my undergrad in English and I graduated with my master's degree with a 3.9 GPA. I couldn't do that now. In fact, I now often have to look up definitions or spellings of words I should know.

Because of lack of appetite and constant nausea, I lost ten pounds without trying. Before the CFS symptoms started, I enjoyed strength training and was trying to build muscle.

I don't utilize my master's degree in my current job. I used to want to find a job using it, but now I don't think I can.

I can't currently exercise more than ten minutes without feeling sick and dizzy. I'd love to gain back the weight and muscle I lost.

Charlie the cat

I have missed family trips and occasions. I don't go out with my friends as much as I used to. I hate making plans because I don't know how I will feel in advance.

I think I might like to date, but I don't know where I would meet anyone since I barely go out anymore.

I practice mindful meditation. I take care of myself by using heat wraps, not overexerting myself, and practicing other self care. I know this is a chronic condition and I often can't control my symptoms, so I do what I can on the days I can. I have always been pretty positive and even though I have chronic migraines and CFS, I don't let my limitations get me down. I don't compare myself to others and I have a list of affirmations when I do start to feel down that help a lot.

My hope for the future is to cut back on my full time job and focus on writing cozy mysteries and working on my blog (irisandhoney.com). I also do some freelance genealogy, so I hope with those ventures I can make enough money to be a stay at home cat mom. That's the dream.

Tippy the cat

- Medicines described in this blog are prescribed to this individual by their Doctor. Always consult your Doctor about what is best for your needs before taking any medication -

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