My Story

 

I want to give you an insight into the main reasons why I decided to change my lifestyle and what motivated me to share this with more people.

It all started when I fell ill in December 2010 just after completing my sports science BSc Degree at Bournemouth University (where I was playing golf for the University and also the Dorset County 1st team). I thought my illness was just a touch of food poisoning but for some reason I didn’t recover and the symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse. I tried to push through this but reached a point where I had to be rushed into hospital for suspected brain tumour. I had several brain scans but I was so weak at that point having lost nearly 3 stone in weight that I couldn’t eat, drink or even stand up!

On my third trip to hospital I was kept in for 11 days. I was tested for everything they could think of, however all the tests came back “normal”. At that point I had also become hypersensitive to more and more of the medication they were giving me. I also had a severe allergic reaction and developed a sensitivity to light, smells and certain foods. The doctors were unable to give any diagnosis apart from saying that I had some kind of viral infection, so they just sent me home and told me to rest and take it easy for a while.

I did go home and rest, unfortunately I didn’t recover or feel any better, in fact I just got worse. I was bed bound, unable to stand up or walk by myself. I couldn’t watch TV or look at my phone as I was extremely sensitive to the light which would give me awful headaches but to make matters worse, I suffered with severe insomnia often going days without any sleep at all. This made it impossible to see my friends and made me feel really isolated.

After multiple attempts to get help from the doctors they finally, after nearly 6 months, diagnosed me with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) also known as CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). I was told there was no “cure” and all I could do was rest and wait.

I started to follow some Facebook pages about M.E to gain more knowledge and came across a page called Let’s Do It For M.E (LDIFME) who were raising money for UK charity Invest in ME to do extensive research into the illness particularly into the gut. Over the next few months I contacted all friends and family members and managed to raise £3000 (The charity raised funds to match the donation making a total of £6000) towards the research which really helped them hit the £100,000 goal they had set. If you wish to donate to this charity or find out more about M.E then go to http://ldifme.org/foundation-research-project/ .

My parents, especially my mum, were amazing throughout this time not leaving a leaf unturned in order to find out how they could help me recover. I needed full time care and my mum had to stay with me 24hrs a day for several months. We also got in touch with the M.E. clinic in Wareham to visit and to try help me cope with my illness. During that horrible time my mum started reading everything she could in order to find alternative ways to make me feel better. She booked a nutritionist and also arranged for a Bowen specialist to see me at my house and try to improve my situation. It was interesting as the nutritionist I was seeing at that time had also suffered from M.E. many years earlier and therefore could relate to my story, she told me to immediately cut gluten and dairy from my diet which my mum and I had already talked about prior to that. I’d always had a pretty balanced diet and never feasted on typical takeaway food but we hadn’t considered looking more carefully at what I was really eating. That was the first step into a changing my diet and nutrition along with taking supplements, some of which came from America specifically designed for M.E. sufferers. At first this was a major change from eating a normal balanced diet to really having to think about exactly what to eat and what that food actually contained. My mum also had to change the way she prepared food but after just a short while this became less of a challenge and actually became the norm.

I was also very lucky to get closer to a girl called Luise, she had heard through mutual friends about what I was going through and started coming to visit me. It was very hard for me and Luise as I wasn’t able to even talk on some days let alone sit up or be a nice host, however she never failed to come and see me and that’s when our relationship developed into something more serious. Luise also really helped my parents in sharing the hard work and in particular has supported my mum during the long journey towards my continued recovery.

Around 6 months after taking special supplements, sticking rigidly to a new nutritional plan and having Bowen treatment, I slowly started to gain a little energy. I managed to walk outside of my bedroom along the landing by myself which sounds like a small thing but for me at the time was a huge achievement. Over the next few months I was able to walk downstairs, but the effort would really tire me out and I wasn’t able to attempt this again for a few days or even up to a week. Over the next few months I set myself challenges and pushed myself a little bit harder, so I would try and walk to the gate at the end of the drive just 20 yards each way which seemed like a marathon to me. The first time I stepped outside it felt extremely odd to me as I had been confined to the four walls in my bedroom for over 6 months, everything felt so unexplainably large and I found it overwhelming.

A year later I was still very much bed bound but occasionally I could be driven to a local shop and to walk around for a few minutes before going home and retiring back to bed. A few months later I also managed to finally take Luise on our first official date (well actually Luise took me out) which felt like a real milestone for us both!

After 2 years of being confined to my bed for the majority of the time and recovering at a very slow pace, and after long discussions with my parents, Luise and I managed to move into a flat together in Bournemouth. Luise was still at Bournemouth University and also working part time so I was home alone more often than not and had to again push myself in order to feed and care for myself. During that time I really discovered that I liked researching and preparing healthy and fresh food as well as looking into easy and quick gluten and dairy free dishes as I didn’t have the energy to cook for hours.

Another year had passed and I started seeing a local nutritionist who really helped me to clean up my diet and to cut out processed sugars as much as possible. I started reading many alternative cook books which inspired me a lot and helped build my passion to cook and eat and live as healthily as possible.

Now, I am at a stage where I can look back and see what a huge impact food has had in my recovery, the more I clean up my diet the better my energy levels become. I keep discovering more and more ways to eat healthily but without making it super complicated and Luise still supports me with this all the time even though I leave the kitchen in a complete mess nearly everyday.

I’m not unique and there are many people that have suffered or are suffering from similar health problems. Those people, along with their friends and loved ones find it really frustrating and painful to try and find help and support. Healthy living is one of the ways I have found that works and I hope that sharing my experiences through my blog may offer a way forward.

This is just a small look into my illness and the way that I have adapted, learned and moved forward towards a healthy lifestyle and I am happy to provide more information if anyone has any questions or wants to talk more about M.E.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

James