I contracted CFS/ME 14 years ago, when I was 57. It was, I am sure, brought on by a very bad bout of glandular fever – I think I have read somewhere that 40% of us more mature folk carry on to CFS/ME after that illness. I was off work for three months then (foolishly, with hindsight) went back to work. For a year I felt so bad each morning that I thought I might die and the only thing to do was to carry on and see if it happened.
It didn’t and here I am today, retired now for a few years. My life has been completely changed by having the disease. There is so much I cannot do and now, I feel, will never do: have a few holes of golf; have a day in Sydney (nearly two hours away by car or train but the day trip is more than I can do).
So, if no Sydney, no shows, no exhibitions, no visits to family (they do come here, never often enough of course!), no art shops or book shops …
Basically, if I do anything – like pull weeds in the garden for 10-15 minutes – I am ill for the rest of the day and off-colour for a few days. “Off-colour” – basic colour is a dingy grey, I guess.
I do manage a 10 minute walk most days. I do enjoy oil pastel drawing/painting. I love my photography (but now where to go for fresh subjects, and how to get there and back?). I enjoy playing with software on my computer. I love – and thank god I can still do this – going out to the local café for a coffee and maybe a bit of cake in the afternoon. I can drop down to one of our beaches, and thank god we have lovely beaches. It is very restorative, being by the sea.
Life is severely limited. I am crippled. Can I recover? Now that I am 72, do I really think I can recover?
But I am philosophical – what I can do, I do, what I can’t, I don’t. Life is still what you make of it and – I know it probably does not sound like it – I am of good cheer and I enjoy what I can.
These oil pastels are such fun – gorgeous colours and how satisfying to scrub on to the paper or canvas – (I am a scrubber, not a dauber!).