ME and Ophelia

Saturday, December 25, 2004

French Father Christmas


Photo via Netlex France

Please click into the QuickTime plug-in of the wonderful music "Vita Brevis de Rodrigo Leão" that Monalisa in Portugal has posted in the sidebar of her blog Sítio da Saudade. It is so neat. Here's looking forward to the day when I find out how to post plug-ins here, along with audio posts - and the Babel translator that can also be found in Monalisa's sidebar.
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And goodwill towards all men

God bless you all dear bloggers. Here's wishing you a peaceful Christmas.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2,11)

Holy Land, Bethlehem history.


The imprisonment of long term chronic illness and loneliness is getting to me these past few days. I shall be glad when it is all over. Christmas I mean. I think. Although I wouldn't be at all disappointed if I went to sleep and never woke up again. I am always very grateful and appreciative of people's kindness and all the help I am given. But at times it does not seem worth it. Solitary confinement is no kind of life at all. My battle is unknown. There is no treatment or cure. They put animals down for lesser suffering. At least I have Ophelia to keep me company. If only she could speak ...


This is the first year I have not sent any Christmas cards. It is the first time I am letting Christmas pass me by. I've done everything to try and avoid thoughts of it incase it gets me too down. I adore everything to do with Christmas time. But when you are trying to forget about it, TV is the biggest reminder. Media really stokes up Christmas. TV commercials sound loud and crass. Pressuring people into buying. Brainwashing them into thinking gifts and stuff spells happiness. There is such pressure for people to be insanely excited and happy. 'Tis the season to be jolly fah lah lah lah lah. Good health in mind, body and spirit seems key to most things.

Back in Autumn, after three of the most awful months of the year (too many home maintenance things going on) I made a decision to change food routine for a while. I'd gone through such a rough patch, the whole business of organising fresh food became a major problem.

So, this year, instead of organising Christmas cards, tree, gifts, etc., I arranged for the guest bedroom to be re-decorated. As I could not manage both projects, it seemed sensible to achieve something constructive rather than spend three months of energy organising Christmas (that I am too ill to enjoy or have too many visitors anyway) and another three months getting over the organising of it, food, turkey etc., like I did the years before.

Because there is always something that needs doing, I am not getting enough rest. Each time I introduce something new that streamlines things in a major way, I think I have this M.E. thing cracked, but no matter what I do, the illness is always there in varying degrees.

Even when I do manage to reduce the pain and other symptoms, it leaves me with a whole range of other problems, ie yearning to go out and knowing if I do, I can't manage when I get back. The suffering is so immense for weeks or even months on end afterwards, it really is not worth it. Besides, I don't believe it's the way to recovery. Like picking at a scab without ever giving it a proper chance to heal. Next year I am putting my six week programme into effect. It's an aggressive rest regime, and extremely boring. I need to get a special alarm clock and timer. More on this next year.

I've not been out since March 2003 and am still horizontal 23.5 hours a day. I think I look awful. Some say I am looking better. But they don't say compared to what. The illness mainly tells in my eyes. Like I've not slept for 4 weeks. They have lost their sparkle and look ill in an invalid/housebound sort of way. Once in a blue moon I get a feeling of well being - it does not last for long though - some times for a whole 24 hours (once it lasted for three weeks) and during those times I did not look so ill. So the damage is not permanent, if I recover.

Several weeks ago, thanks to the help of a very kind friend, I have started a new food routine that requires little input from me. It is helping to reduce the symptoms. Freshly made meals are prepared by a wonderful whole food store that uses its own fresh organic produce and free range/organic meat, fish etc.

Also, last month, thanks to cash gifts from my mother last Christmas and birthday, I have had a new dishwasher and an additional 3-drawer freezer installed. I ordered them from a local shop over the phone. Two friends helped plan where to have the machines installed. The dishwasher took two-hours to install involving extension pipes and plumbing work.

Both machines are Hotpoint and made in the UK. The dishwasher is a slimline beauty for 7 places and works great. My friend includes my shopping list with hers and visits here weekly to deliver a weeks supply of meals so there is always a few weeks of food in the new freezer.

Now all I have to do is (I forgot during the first week) pull open the freezer door before I go to bed, select a meal for defrosting. Next day preheat oven, pop it in (meals are bought in foil trays) on a tray lined with foil (saves on washing up) and set timer for 40 minutes. When ready, open up the over, take out the tray, serve onto two plates - one for lunch the other for dinner and arrange something alongside each - pasta, rice, greens etc. Lately these side dishes have also been frozen. The recipes are amazing - chicken, pasta, salmon, pheasant, madras curry... and substantial portions too.

By next month I shall get the hang of the new routine and prepare fresh side salads and veg etc., each day. Cutting down on cooking and the managing of people to cook has made a huge difference in reducing my symptoms. But as soon as I start trying to do something extra outside of my 15 minute baseline, like walking up and down more than usual or sitting on a stool to plant winter bulbs in my garden troughs, the symptoms return with a vengeance. I rest straight away so it doesn't take weeks for the symptoms to reduce.

This past month, I've been all out of sync with fruit and vegetable deliveries. For the first time in three years, I've not placed any orders and so have hardly eaten any fresh greens these past six weeks. In the new year I aim to buy a new fruit and veg juice extractor, bordering on industrial strength as my other one lasted less than six months (juicing carrots did the motor in). More on this after I've browsed the net for some tips on juice extractors, to post here. Meanwhile, if any readers can recommend tried and tested juice extractors that take whole or halved fruit (no chopping into small chunks) any pointers would be most appreciated.

I shall try and post more here over Christmas/New Year as a diary entry to look back on this time next year. Can't tell when though, my eyes are burning and I'm finding emailing difficult. Must catch up with phone and thank you's. Bye for now. And thank you for all your visits and comments. Hope you all have a good Christmas holiday. Love from ingrid and ophelia xx
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Goat is a Popular Gift with Britons

Regular visitors here may recall a post I wrote about buying goats for Christmas from Oxfam who will send them as gifts to those in need.

A recent BBC report says Oxfam has sold some 30,000 goats for poor families in 70 countries. "Ethical buying seems to be very popular this year," said a spokeswoman.

"Traditionally, the British public has been less willing to fund overseas development charities, but the "goats for Africa" scheme has succeeded by tapping into the traditional national love of animals," opined "The Guardian" newspaper.

"Less of the Christmas 'bah, humbug,' more of the 'baa'," the newspaper wrote.

Goat For It - Goat is a popular gift with Britons

A naughty goat eats treats off a Christmas tree at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2004. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith) Courtesy BBC News online.
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Love may indeed be blind

BBC News Health report explains Love's strange effect on people.
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The secret of marriage seems not to expect too much from it

Sorry I have mislaid the link to the following BBC News online report. Here is an excerpt:

If you've got high expectations but you don't have the relationship skills, you may need to work at them.

US researchers say that, unless you have superior relationship skills, your hopes of cosy coupledom are likely to be dashed. Far better, they say, to aim low to ensure you are not disappointed. The key to keeping that newlywed glow appears to be forgiveness and communication.

The number of marriages in England and Wales rose by 2% in 2002, reversing a consistent decline since the early 1970s.

The study, by researchers from Ohio and Florida Universities looked at 82 couples. They quizzed all the spouses independently over four years.

Their study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found those who believed their partner would be unfailingly kind, loving and agree with their every word, could retain their positive outlook by being forgiving, and having charitable explanations for their partner's negative behaviour.

However those with high expectations but without those relationship skills are likely to be brought down to earth fairly quickly as their Prince or Princess Charming falls off their pedestal.

In contrast, the researchers say holding a more prosaic view of your loved one means you are less likely to be disappointed, and therefore more satisfied with your marriage.

Christine Northam, a spokeswoman for relationship counselling organisation Relate, told BBC News Online she felt positive outlooks were not a bad thing - and couples could work at improving poor relationship skills.

"Having high expectations can act as motivation."

"But if you've got high expectations but you don't have the relationship skills, you may need to work at them.

"Maintaining good relationships takes energy and activity."

But Professor Alex Gardner of the British Psychological Society warned people may not live up to their partner's high expectations.

"The guy or the woman, though generally it's the man, can be so thick that they can't see what's being expected of them, or if they can see it, they might resent the expectations placed on them."

Note, the report says previous research has found that people tend to select like-minded partners who they believe will be able to maintain a stable relationship. The finding contradicts the old adage that opposites attract. Instead, the US researchers said people looking for long-term relationships should select partners who were similar to themselves, rather than seeking out the highest quality partner available.
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Courtesy Scotsman and NYT

On this day December 24 the trenches south of Ypres in of World War 1 saw the "Christmas Truce". The truce apparently started when German troops began decorating their trenches and singing carols, to be joined by the British. Holiday greetings were shouted across the lines and soon no-man's-land was crossed and gifts exchanged. The truce lasted in som eplaces for a day and in others till New Year's eve.

On December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve TV broadcast.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 12/25/2004
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