Day 7 of my 40 day challenge.
January 2016 I posted by best ever time cycling up Ditchling Beacon, over a minute faster than my previous attempt! It was no Bradley Wiggins, not even on par with my peers, but it was my personal best.
A couple of weeks later it was a different story. It was like I had nothing to give, like I was struggling in a strong wind on a still day. Then the flu 😷. So that makes sense. Feeling much better by March but still hacking up some nastiness, I attempt a cycling event with my friends. And that’s when it all started.
After only a few miles I was in trouble. 10 miles down the road I had to sleep on a pub bench for 20 minutes. Turns out I’d had a bad chest infection but didn’t know it.
What followed was months of total exhaustion for no apparent reason. Not the kind of tired because you’ve been kept awake during the night by your 1 year old (although this too was true). But tired like my legs would give way when walking down the street, tired like I couldn’t get my thoughts together or my words out the way I wanted. Sitting at work full of guilt knowing I should be more productive but just didn’t have what I needed, physically and mentally to be able to deliver.
I have to confess that my own attitude towards others with fatigue prior to my own episode was not very kind. I’d often see a post on Facebook from someone I know who suffers with chronic fatigue, showing how they’d just cycled 10 miles. “I wish I had the time in the middle of the day to do that” I would think, along with some other, slightly more judgemental thoughts! 😬
I now see my friend’s Facebook posts as triumphs rather than something to tut at! As I confessed my poor attitude to my friend, his advice was to learn what you can do, when you can do it and then go do it.
It’s been a real struggle for me over the last year to learn to accept that my body isn’t working the way I want it to. I’m not crushed with the fatigue like I was, but I’ve not been on my bike for the best part of a year and I find myself just coping rather than having any energy to spare. Only time will tell if I come through the other side of this or if this is going to be something I have to live with and manage long-term.
If I was ever sitting on the fence as to whether there was such a thing as chronic fatigue, I am now well and truly convinced. I am also embarrassingly aware of how easy it is to form judgement without having had any real experience.
For now, it’s just one day at a time. John O’Groates to Lands End 🚲 may just have to wait.