• Smcaul - The Journey So Far

    So, where to start? My first real recollection of there being anything wrong was when I was 24, I had just split up with my fiancée and was working quite hard as an HGV driver. I was also sharing a house with a school friend of mine and the house was in the centre of a busy, large town, it had the added bonus of being right opposite a pub. This of course meant that the candle was being heavily burnt at both ends - coming home from work and then going straight out, bed, then up for work.

    This went on for about 8 months, then one Saturday morning I woke up and felt really quite odd, not the usual hangover I had come to expect, it was a much more removed feeling, but I got up and had to go to a DIY place, when I got there I bumped into my ex and started to feel very dizzy and faint, I managed to get outside and back on my motorbike and started to head home - The feeling carried on all weekend and on the Monday I went to see the doctor, he just said it was due to the heat (it was the middle of summer), but after a few more weeks of feeling rough I returned to see a different doctor, this time he diagnosed depression and started me on Anti-depressants.

    These seemed to work for a couple of years and in that time I found my current partner and we had a daughter together. After about 2 years I changed jobs (I had already given up driving), the new job required lots of travel and being away from home, in my 2nd week of the job I was in meetings in Belgium, France, Holland and Germany, and it was on the return ferry back to blighty that I started to get very ill, the dizzy spells and faint feeling were back. I could hardly walk, I was lucky that I was with a colleague and he was driving. I got home at 5am, had 3 hours sleep then had to be in another meeting at 9am, I just scraped through the meeting then had to go home and spent the whole weekend in bed sleeping. I just put it down to a new job and the stresses that that caused.

    Went back to work on the Monday, but was aware that at lunch times I was having to come home and have 45 minute sleeps, was away again the following week but really struggled to keep energy levels up and was lucky that the hotels had room service so I did not have to go out of the room to eat.

    That was my last full working week - over 2 years ago now, After that trip I had a few days off, went to see the Doctor who did the normal bloods, that showed abnormal Liver Function Test, which is a known feature of ME, after almost daily blood tests my employers paid for me to see a specialist, he mentioned about ME but said there was nothing he could do, just let it run it's course. After 2 months my employers had to let me go, which was really gutting as it was a job I had worked hard to get. I had spent the previous 4 weeks and the next 6 weeks bed bound, I had a recurring tooth infection that I could not loose, Antibiotics were making me feel terrible, pain killers made me feel nauseous and I could not get enough energy up to make it to the dentist.

    This all then started to settle down, and I could finally get about the house a bit, by taking things a little at a time I managed to do more and more - My mother then heard about RT, so we gave that a go, that I believe did aid my recovery process, but I am not going to go into details on this.

    After about a year I had gotten to a point where I needed to look at doing some type of work, we had managed to keep hold of our house by a combination of my partner training to become a childminder, so she could work from home, and our parents being able to help out with the mortgage payments. The monies we were getting from the DWP were not enough to even pay half our mortgage, let alone live on. It was not until I had been off work for a year that we could start claiming mortgage relief, it was a very tough and stressful year for both myself and my partner, but we both got through, I managed to do some online study for a professional qualification and passed the exams during this time.

    The qualifications I gained have enabled me to set up a business working from home, it is in the business area that I have always worked so I know it well, It is not ideal and it involves a fair amount of admin work, which I have never been that good at. But the benefits are that I can pick and choose the hours I do, as well as how many days a week I work. At present I am still growing the business and as such do not take a wage from it, this means that as long as I work less then 16 hours a week I can still claim my benefits whilst growing the business, and I hope that in the next 6 months it will be at a point where it can support us fully.

    I still have very bad days, in fact I am having one today as I write this, I have a cough and have just started to get Gout in my foot, both are zapping my energy and making me feel quite low, but on the up side in a few days I am sure I will feel a bit better. I do not think that any time in the near future will I be at a level where I could return to full time employment. This no longer bothers me too much now. ME has giving me the opportunity to set up my own business, but more importantly it has meant that I have got to spend lots of time at home with my beautiful daughter, seeing her grow up, true I do miss things like taking her to the zoo as I can not walk any more then about 100mtrs without my legs giving up, but I get to see so much more of her then I would have done otherwise.

    ME has made me realise that there is far more to life then just working so you can afford a bigger house or better car.