I’m Still Alive!

Warning: Grumpiness Ahead

Long time no blog. Short version is I got Covid June 2022, and though the vaccines kept me out of hospital (just – breathing with O2 levels of 88% was not fun) it caused a relapse I’m still going through. I have a draft of a proper update blog post as lots of things have happened, but brain fog is preventing me from completing it.

I’ve gone from mostly bedbound to completely so. Since getting Covid I’ve gone out for hospital appointments and to go into respite, but that’s it. I miss being outside, even just to go on the ramp. Being too ill for visitors sucks. I make an exception for Sammie because the payback is worth it, but it’s months between her visits.

I was mostly coping okay with this, then at the beginning of November this year having a wash then my flu and Covid vaccines too close together has brought more deterioration. I feel guilty for struggling to deal with it. I’ve been much worse than this before, which isn’t helping the guilt as I feel I should be able to manage better.

I think it’s partially that once I’d recovered from the actual Covid infection, I still had things I could do that I now can’t, as the long term effects from that were more POTS and movement based rather than sensory. So I could watch YouTube, TV shows and Twitch streams. I could play video games using an adapted controller. I could manage going on my computer for a few hours a month. I even became a moderator for a couple of Twitch/Discord communities that have helped keep me going during the pandemic, which meant I felt like I was able to give back to them. Now I’m nearly always too ill, and it hurts.

I think Twitter imploding also hasn’t helped. When it shut down API access to third party apps, it stopped being the easiest place for me to keep up with people. Then lots of my friends left (for good reason), and they’re all spread out over different platforms. I do have a Mastodon and Bluesky account, but I’m struggling to use them even though I want to. Facebook is also overwhelming. Discord isn’t quite the same, being closer to chat rooms than a place to find friends updates and stuff, and there’s so many servers it’s impossible to keep up. I mostly stick to the two I moderate, with a couple more slow paced ones I look at when I’m able to.

I feel guilty because I know how lucky I am. Izzy is amazing, and I’m so lucky to have her. She still works full time from home, and yet tells me it’s okay to wake her up at night when I need things. Her job means our income is stable, and though we’re still on a low enough income to qualify for Universal Credit, it’s enough that we don’t need to worry too much about things despite the increased cost of living.

My main three care workers from the new agency I started with last year are excellent, and due to their stubbornness around wanting to keep to the same clients, most of the time I only have those three each week at set times, and it’s the same one for both daily calls. It makes a massive change from around 10-15 with the previous agency, and has reduced how ill receiving care makes me. I don’t even need a weekly rota (though I do have it in the calendar because keeping track of days is hard, and it’s a fortnightly rotation).

So many people with Severe ME are doing so much worse than me. Even I’m not even close to where I was at my worst. Most of the time I can speak, eat solid food with my fingers, roll over, and cope with a certain amount of light and noise. I have people who love me and believe in me. I feel guilty I can’t communicate with most of them.

To make it clear, I don’t think I’m depressed. I had depression for 12 years, so I know what that’s like. I don’t feel emotionless or very down. I’m mostly frustrated.

Before getting Covid I’d been improving, to the point where I could sit up for 2 minutes without vomiting or fainting for the first time in years. I had been planning to attempt a non-hoisted transfer on my 36th birthday. I can’t remember most of June or July of 2022, and based on what I can remember I’m glad of it.

Even after that, I adapted to my new normal. I figured out what I could and couldn’t do. I felt lucky that I’d stayed out of hospital, and that I could still do the things I enjoyed that helped me cope.

I think that now I can’t do those things (at least not without really bad payback) it’s why I’m struggling. Izzy’s doing her best to help but I can only tolerate her in my room for short periods and she has other things she needs to do. I think it being such small things that have made it this way hasn’t helped. Losing abilities because of something big (like Covid) is easier to deal with.

There’s one Twitch stream a week that really helps my mental health, so I’m prioritising that right now. There’s a segment called Little Victories, where everyone who wants to can share something they’re happy about from the previous week, no matter how small. Even before this relapse being there helped, but now it’s the main thing I’m looking forward to, and it’s worth the payback.

I’m also praying. Not always in words. I’m hoping with time I’ll get better, even if only a little bit. I know I’ll be okay, but also that it’s okay to be frustrated and upset right now. Not sure how to deal with the guilt, but I can work on that when I’m able. I’ve gotten through a lot worse.

I’m not expecting anyone to have read this, but if you have, I hope you’re doing as well as possible. There’s a lot of good in the world, and I hope one day I’ll be part of that.

Day 29 – Shopping

Payback wasn’t that bad. One day. Seems this improving thing is good 🙂 Hopefully this means I’ll be fine going to the cinema in just over a week.

I spent most of the day trying to sort out Christmas and birthday shopping for Sammie. I was mostly successful, and have now bought the bulk of her physical presents. I still have a couple to sort out, but I’m glad that is mostly done.

In between, I was moaning to/with the care workers about the new phone system they’re starting to use. I have major concerns with it, as I was told it was just a login system (fine), but it contains all my care plans, key safe code, personal information, and the care workers are having to record what they do in far too much detail.

I’m not on any kind of fluid monitoring as I don’t need it, but they have to say exactly how much of which drink they make me, how much I drink, and how much they’re disposing of. The previous paper system just involved them writing “filled drinks bottles”. I have as needed medication, and instead of just a tick box to say I don’t need it at a call, they have to type it out on a tiny screen. It’s like that for everything on my care plan, and it takes about 10 minutes for the care worker who is good with phones to fill it in, which when my calls are 30 or 45 minutes is a large chunk of time.

I don’t know where the data is stored, how secure it is, who has access, or why they’re wanting to know such personal stuff that isn’t needed for them to do their jobs properly. I previously didn’t even have the care workers log in here as I trusted them to turn up and didn’t mind them running late. The paper logs were picked up every month and that was fine, and if I’d forgotten something I’d just ask Johan to go check what they’d written.

They’re meant to replace the communication books, yet at least at the moment there’s no way for care workers to share information with each other. So if a care worker from my lunch call needs to pass a message on to my afternoon care worker (such as me being asleep so I’ll need food at the next call) then there’s no way to pass that on. Now I’m mostly able to communicate so we’d probably be able to muddle through (though I forget things I need all the time unless they prompt me), but many clients have dementia or other conditions which would make that impossible.

The worst thing about it is I wasn’t told about it (beyond it being a login system) and only found out how much personal data they were recording when I asked a care worker why it was taking so long. I definitely don’t constent to them recording my life in such detail. I keep a daily diary of what I do and even I don’t track my exact food and drink intake, because I don’t need to.

I really need to send an email to the agency to ask a lot of questions, request a copy of all the data they have stored about me, and tell them I do not consent to my data being used in this way. It’s nearly 5am though so maybe right now isn’t the time to do it. The care workers aren’t particularly happy either for various reasons, and not even the login system is working properly (and the QR code for them to scan is almost the full A4 size sheet of paper, so getting that to scan on the crappy cheap Android phones they’ve been given is really difficult to begin with). It’s a mess and a terrible idea.

When Johan got home I went on my desktop computer as I was feeling well enough and I was struggling to buy some of the items I wanted on my tablet. Chatted to Sammie for a bit, and managed the bulk of the shopping.

During my evening call I had a mini wash and changed into a clean nightie, and let one of the care workers (T) feed me soup as my stomach is still misbehaving and my hands are too shaky for a spoon at the moment. I hate being fed but she’s one of my favourites and I trust her.

I was planning on maybe going into World of Warcraft after doing the shopping, but instead I ended up sorting my Habitica stuff out, including working on my quest spreadsheet. I can now easily see how many quests I’ve yet to do and whether I already own the scrolls to them. It took a ridiculous amount of time for me to figure it out the correct formulas as my brain just wasn’t cooperating properly, but I was also hyperfocused on it and couldn’t stop until it was done. Still feel okay, just a bit tired now, so it’ll probably be fine.

Johan is out running Saturday morning and then has a party in the evening, so I’m not going to see much of him tomorrow. At this rate though I’ll probably be asleep so it’s fine. I’m looking forward to Advent starting on Sunday and I’m hoping to get the Christmas tree up early this year as I didn’t have it at all last year. I might have to ask the care workers to help me decorate my room, but it should be awesome.

My stomach is still not great, but I’ve not brought up any of my soup for about an hour so it’s improving. Tomorrow if it’s not hurting too much I might try one normal meal and see how it goes. I’ve got some lovely apples but when my tummy is like this it’s almost the worst thing for me to eat. Other than that and my usual stuff though I’m still really happy from going out on Tuesday and speaking to Sammie, so things are good 🙂