THE DIFFICULTIES POSED BY ORDINARY , EVERYDAY, TAKEN-FOR GRANTED THINGS, FOR PEOPLE DIAGNOSED WITH SEVERE/VERY SEVERE ME
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE TO STAY IN BED?
Difficulty waking up
Need for extra sleep
Difficulty feeling rested
Feeling extremely ill
Difficulty processing environment
Inability to sit up/be upright
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE NEED TO STAY IN ONE ROOM?
Noise protection to limit exposure
Light sensitivity requires darkened space
Comfortably arranged to meet need
Decorated minimally to avoid over-stimulation
No energy to move
Not able to tolerate interaction with others
Not able to tolerate motion
Not able to walk any distance
Noise -reducing environment
Closest position to bathroom/toilet
Everything is organised to be at hand
No energy to leave room
No ability to be upright or lie down in some cases
Best seating arrangements
Stuck upstairs unable to get down
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTIES WITH STAIR LIFTS?
Expensive - may be affordable
Stairs may be too steep or awkward shape
Noise of motor may be too much to tolerate for severe noise sensitivity
Motion may be intolerable
May be unsafe due to muscle weakness to sit ip or endure movement safely
Smell of oil for people with MCS
May not have a strong enough handgrip ability, due to muscle weakness/pain in hands
Pain may be too severe to tolerate motion or movement
Seat may not offer enough back support or leg support
May not be strong enough to operate independently
Dizziness may make it unbearable
Nausea may make motion intolerable
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTIES WITH SHOWERS?
Difficulty getting out of bed or off seat to get to bathroom.
Difficulty getting to the shower room due to muscle weakness, muscle fatigue, post- exertional neuroimmune reaction, paralysis
Not enough energy to undress.
Difficulty transferring to a shower chair or bath-board over a bath.
Difficulty with hardness of seat or bath-board causing pain of exacerbating existing levels of pain
Difficulty getting in and out of shower.
A shower over a bath may extra cause problems
Inability to stand or safely sit - unsteady on feet even with support
Not enough energy to endure the whole process of getting in and out of shower and washing and drying oneself, even with help.
Extreme pain may make physical contact of falling water an agony.
Shock of water on skin may act as a shock to intensify symptoms.
Getting too cold once shower stops.
Hypersethesia making contact from water unbearable.
Needing a dark room may make the environment not safe to shower in.
Noise of water falling may be intolerable if sound sensitive.
Noise of motor may be too loud and cause pain, headache, upset, intolerance, paralysis, muscle shaking.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTIES WITH DECORATING?
Inability to tolerate people in the house or room
Difficulty of people wearing perfumed products contaminating environment further.
Lack of energy or cognitive ability to arrange and cope with the process.
Poverty - low odour paints are extremely expensive
Inability to leave the room or the house that needs decorating.
The length of time required to do the work may take too long even if someone can cope for a little time
Unpredictability and unreliability people helping coming on time and sticking to agreed times.
Finding helpers who understand your illness and who are willing to be flexible.
Impossibility of cleaning up afterwards or coping with upheaval and changes to routine.
Risk of symptoms deterioration.
Risk of new symptoms developing.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTIES WITH GETTING NEW THINGS?
The massive extra health risks posed by COVID 19, rendering a profoundly difficult life, altogether impossible .
Inability, way before COVID, to go to a shop to try something out to check it is comfortable or suits your need.
Unpredictability and safety of online buying, measuring, colour accuracy, inability to tell comfort, texture of material, chemical or perfume smell of product or wrapping,no knowing if it is virus infected or not.
Inability to deal with sales person online or on telephone or in person, due to severity of illness, communication difficulties, no energy to speak or comprehend, noise sensitivity, cognitive difficulties.
Too ill to deal with delivery of product, especially if you live alone and are bed-bound.
Cannot tolerate the door bell ringing.
Cannot tell what time a parcel will be delivered to ensure someone is there to avoid noise, light, chemical, perfume exposure or other extra stresses that deteriorate symptoms.
Profound difficulty unpacking purchase safely, in case it has the virus, weak hands, no strength, no ability to deal with it, move it or put it where it needs to go.
Vulnerability of chemical smells from new products which take many months to wear off and endanger health.
Difficulty tolerating other people’s presence in the room or house even if yo have someone willing and able to help.
Not enough energy to explain your need to someone else to help you.
Someone else cannot tell how a product feels/smells, whether the colour is okay for you eyes, whether it has a noise etc.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTY USING A WHEELCHAIR?
Not everyone will be able to sit upright or lean back at an angle even for different reasons: eg orthostatic intolerance, muscle weakness, extreme pain, muscle spasms and tremor, periodic or permanent paralysis.
Some may need to lie completely flat or have appropriate padding to get comfortable eat the right angle. Not everyone will be the same!
Motion, both forward or backward, may be intolerable to some.
Being tipped backwards may be unbearable, especially with dysautonomia.
A jolt to the chair or a bump may be excruciating, deteriorative, intolerable, , trigger shock or paralysis, increase pain, cause irritation or upset, be too risky to attempt.
It may be hard to get a seat that is sift enough or padded enough in the right places or with surfaces that are bearable with contact.
New smells or chemicals and cushioning may be an issue for people with MCS.
Cushions must be supportive yet soft enough for comfort. Texture may also be important.
Professionals may not understand need especially if not always required or variably tolerated or possible to use.
It is not easy to get a design that suits someone with severe pressure sensitivity, high pain or hyperesthesia.
Electric chairs may be impossible to control independently due to muscle weakness, lack of co-ordination or poor co-ordination, poor vision, post-exertional deterioration, lack of energy, muscle or nerve pain, lack of stamina, poor spacial awareness.
There may be difficulty physically charging or safely charging batteries if there is limited space.
Ramps and access are often issues to be considered.
Wheelchair maintenance is impossibly difficult if you have severe ME.
WHY DO SOME PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTY ENGAGING WITH PEOPLE IN PERSON?
People may be too ill to speak or move or convey need even.
They may be too noise sensitive to tolerate another persons voice, both loudness and tone, their laughter or even a whisper, the sounds they make when moving their body whilst making gestures even or their footsteps in the room or on the stairs or the banging of doors, even if quietly shut or opened.
A door bell can be incapacitating, painful, harmful, deteriorative to someone with severe sound sensitivity. The inability to answer it can be upsetting or exhausting.
People may be too weak and limited in energy to move, think, talk, debate, answer questions, ask questions, find words, understand information, sit up, stand, explain, open windows to air rooms if perfume-exposed, unable to open curtains to let in needed light if needed due to physical inability or photophobia.
Chemical and perfume sensitivity and allergy are real barriers to being with people or allowing them into the room or the home.
Some people may be physically paralysed, unable to communicate or tolerate anyone’s presence, may appear asleep, when actually conscious and awake but unable to move or open their eyes
A person in the room may not understand the need for silence, the severe difficulties ME imposes; the cognitive impact that can limit language, memory, information, understanding, the harm that ensues if the person's reality is ignored or not understood, is not known or accepted.
People may sometimes suddenly, unpredictably and unexpectedly completely run out of energy, deteriorate, develop severe pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, paralysis and no longer be able to engage in conversation or bear company in the room, may only have very limited time before this happens, if engagement is possible at all and will have strict regimes and specific needs, to cope in these circumstances but not necessarily be able to convey them.
Linda and Greg Crowhurst
(This extract is from the forthcoming book "More Notes For Carers".)