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I feel I should start this post with a warning - the topic I'm talking about might be very distressing for some to think about so please, if you suffer from anxiety or depression, take care of yourself and feel free to not read!
I had a very bad CFS crash today, my worst in quite a while. I've been doing reasonably well lately, but this morning I had a bout of IBS which still happens to me pretty regularly. I thought it was because I'm on my period, as I often get loose-ish stool if not outright diarrhea during my period. I felt mostly ok once it stopped, but still a bit queasy and I was planning to go out and worried it might recur, so I took a single Immodium tablet as a preventative measure (half the recommended dose). I frequently use Immodium to control my IBS and have always found it very effective with no side effects.
Within maybe half an hour of taking the tablet, I became extremely sleepy, that kind of fatigue that makes your entire body feel like a lead weight and makes the effort of keeping your eyes open sickening. It's the feeling I get whenever I'm having a crash and the only thing to do is just sleep. I don't think it was necessarily caused by the Immodium as I often crash after a bout of IBS, but this time was particularly bad.
At first I slept for maybe 2 hours, then got up briefly and forced myself to eat some crackers and had some tea hoping it would give me energy, but it didn't. I went back to sleep for another 4 hours. It's a funny kind of sleep, not like the sleep I get at night - I'm half-awake, in that my eyes are often open, I can see and hear what's going on around me, but at the same time I'm having vivid dreams and I can't comprehend any of the actual physical input from my senses. In this state if I try to look at an object and interpret it meaningfully I feel nauseous and like I'm going to pass out.
Towards the end of this 4-hour 'sleep', I started to feel as though my entire body, vital organs and all, were shutting down. My breathing became extremely slow and shallow and my heartbeat slowed down to a crawl. At some point, I felt like if I didn't consciously take my next breath, it would never happen, and likewise I felt like my heart was about to stop. It felt like my body was so tired it had just given up, or maybe forgotten, how to make my heart beat. I was scared and took a huge breath and kicked my arms and legs to wake up my body and I called my partner over to sit with me.
Now, I know that it's possible for low blood pressure to cause death, and I suspect I had low blood pressure, but I don't think I would have actually died. I also know that anxiety can make you think you're going to die, but this wasn't that; I didn't have the energy to be anxious, and anxiety actually raises blood pressure and increases heart rate and breathing due to adrenaline - a point which I think is proven by what happened after I had this 'near-death' feeling.
I have a blood pressure monitor and as my partner sat with me I told him to bring me the machine so I could take my blood pressure because I wanted to know what was going on in my body. Taking my blood pressure makes me very anxious (although I'm getting used to it) and as I started thinking about it I slowly started to feel more awake and alive, which I attribute to the physiological effects of anxiety. I started to feel strong enough that I could sit up and drink water. I did take my blood pressure and it was 121/69, which I think was probably not accurate given that my heart rate during the test was 81 compared to 66 after I'd relaxed again following the test, indicating my anxiety levels and accompanying temporarily elevated blood pressure.
I'm curious if anyone else with CFS ever felt like everything in their body was just going to stop. Have you ever felt like you might not wake up if you don't make a conscious physical effort to stay alive? Part of me hopes I'm the only one because I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone, it's terrifying...but at the same time, if I am the only one, what does that say about my prognosis? I haven't heard of any deaths directly caused by CFS but it's hard not to wonder about when you've been through something like this.
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