What’s wrong with me?

Next week we’ll be doing a 3-day #AmWritingAroundObstacles series here on my blog, all about overcoming obstacles to productivity.

We’ll talk about obstacles that can prevent us from working efficiently, which for me means writing, and work out how best to get past, over, under or through those obstacles.

I have a pretty good idea where I’ll be going in this thought process, because I’ve spent some time pondering the method that I hope will help me be more productive, but I want to hear from you too. So if you’d like to subscribe by email you can do that now up in the side column just here on the right.

Hey, maybe you’d like to say in the comments below this post that you’ll be here to work through your circumstances with me, like a statement of intent for yourself. I like that idea. I’m gonna do it to fix it in my brain. 🙂

Anyway, that’s next week.

Today, I’m going to tell you about the medical condition that affects my productivity, because I want to refer to this post next week rather than weigh down the series with a deep old moan from the back of the groan cave. Here it is.

What went wrong?

My long-term health condition is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. ME for short.

I came home hurt after the 1991 Gulf War and it took me a long time to recover from my injuries. I was mostly paralysed for the first two years and my wife gave up her career to look after me. It was a hell of a fight to regain even some movement, and that was only the start.

What followed was a long journey measured in 4 or 5 year periods from bedbound, into a wheelchair, to up (and frequently down again) on sticks, and so on.

It wasn’t a linear journey by any means, because there was far more going on than simply regaining the use of my limbs. Some internal organs had been stomped to death and were never coming back.

And my immune system was damaged, which is where the ME virus comes in. I caught it in a military hospital and it changed every aspect of my life. I was what’s known in the ME world as severely affected.

Eventually, in July and August 2006, I walked without aids for the first time in 15 years. That first day was big. Big. There may have been tears, and they weren’t only mine.

To my huge disappointment, that autumn a relapse knocked me down again and several years later I still haven’t made it up off the low plateau it pushed me back to.


What’s it like now?

My life is very sedentary. I’m registered as 80% disabled (although my disability is largely invisible) and I’m 99% housebound.


My primary symptom is pain, with exhaustion as the secondary symptom caused directly by the primary one.

Muscle pain is constant and forever, with joint pain nearly constant and nerve pain (like they’re trapped, only usually they’re not) swooping in to spice things up regularly. I still have big muscles from my old endurance athlete days and when they cramp, often several of them together: boy, do they cramp!

Management is focused on rest (which I’m not very good at, even after all this time) and the intelligent use of energy in small amounts without draining my small reserves (at which I’m better).

Pain control is a problem. I use codeine phosphate and paracetamol 24/7 to take the edge off, and I practice mind over matter. The next (and final) step up the pain relief ladder is morphine. Which dulls the pain, but it also dulls my mind. I’d rather have my brain working, thank you very much, but big jagged hideous pain dulls my mind too, so it’s all swings and roundabouts.

I tackle the pain control problem day-by-day. I don’t know of any other way to do it.

Okay. There’s my health story. So next week, when I mention physical hurdles, these are mine.


Enough, already

That’s me done whining. I’m going to hit post then leave that “statement of intent” comment for myself.

See you next week, I hope.


Further reading

Here’s the #AmWritingAroundObstacles series:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3


Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to What’s wrong with me?

  1. This is my statement of intent comment. I'll be here next week and we'll do this thing. 🙂

  2. Lea Griffith says:

    I'm crazy looking forward to this! My biggest obstacle at this moment is time management. There are others running almost parallel but I'm working hard on those. With working full time, going through a weight loss program, 3 teen or almost teen girls and a hubby–time management is kicking my arse! I just can't get it together and inevitably, something always suffers. My statement if intent? Work hard through #dsw to figure out the best way for this crazy life of mine.

    You rock, Obi Wan–and it does my heart good to see you #dsw.

  3. David,
    You're my hero, and the fact that you manage to push through despite the pain and get words on the page is inspiring.

    For me, I think the blocks are mental. I won't go into the day job and four kids thing, because truly? I could still manage to write 3k a day despite that, so long as stay up late. The bigger issue is that I can't get out of my own way sometimes, with Type A personality self-applied pressures to write a bestseller a constant struggle. If I could free my mind, I think I'd be able to loose my fingers on the keyboard and really get the job done. Which would, in turn, increase my chances of writing said bestseller because I'd be churning out twice as much content. I look forward to reading this series and wish you nothing but the best with your health.

    • Thank you, Christine, but I'm no hero really. I'm just a stubborn bugger. 🙂

      I understand exactly what you mean. It's like a spiral, isn't it?

      I look forward to seeing you next week.

  4. Hugs. I'm so glad you're here and writing.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I need to work through some issues. My current problem is time management within a context where my time is subject to interruption at any point with spouse home full time. This should not be an intractable problem; spouse is a reasonable person and there's plenty of time available. But something is going on inside my head that is keeping me from seeing possible solutions.

  6. I'm going to try to be here next week as well! I too have fibro, and for me, it is the fibro fog that interferes with my daily life. My other big issue is too much needing done and I don't work well when things are chaotic. When I closed my retail business end of 08, it threw my household and life into major chaos and I'm still climbing out of that pit.

  7. I'll be here, working through . . . everything. Family home. Depression. Burn out from working too hard. Money stress. You name it. . . .

  8. Linda Adams says:

    * Waves * Fellow Gulf War vet.

    My own challenge is how to be more productive on novel writing. I can toss out short stories in 4 hours, from first draft to final, and it takes me ages to write a novel. I hear about people finishing one in a year, and I don't know how they do that.

    • Hi Linda. Vets-R-Us. 🙂

      My average rate is one novel and one novella per year of new material, plus whatever rewrites and edits they bring. That's me flat out. I'd like to increase my efficiency by at least one further novella.

  9. David, I'm in awe of all you can do with what you've gone through. I'm almost ashamed to talk about the full time day job & how tired I am when I get home, how my eyes already ache from being on the computer all day at work and that they just don't want to do it anymore in the evenings. But I have so many stories I want to write! I'll stop by again next week & cheer you on & maybe get a bit more done myself>

    • Don't be ashamed, Natasha. A full time job plus a writing career equals two full time jobs, and that's nothing to be ashamed about! Look forward to seeing you next week. 🙂

  10. Dani Marie says:

    David… I would love to join you. I am inspired like the others. My biggest problem is insecurity about my writing. Putting it out there is hard for me. I have several others issues though as well. Although my pain is on a much lower scale it is constant and frustrating. Asthma and other health issues add to the mix. So count me in… let's do it!

  11. David, what an inspiring idea. Thanks for sharing your story. It reminded me that no matter how solitary our writing journey feels, people are with us along the way — and in all our troubles. Your wife gets a big hug from me, as do you.

    The strange thing is, that as I prepared to sign up to your challenge for next week, I realised that the healthiest thing I could do was NOT to sign up. Truly. For me, I need to practice freeing myself from feeling committed to stuff. Sometimes whipcracking can be counterproductive.

    So best of luck, everyone, with your writing! I'll be practising treating my writing time as the joy it is 🙂

    • Thanks, Jenny. Hugs backatcha! 🙂

      You're so wise. I try to free myself that way too, deliberately and repeatedly. Your approach has inspired me to incorporate that in my thinking here next week. Thank you.

  12. Hugs and best wishes to you and your amazing wife, David! Here's hoping the DO SOME WORDS series yields very positive results for everyone – I'm cheering you all on from the sidelines!)

  13. Tia Nevitt says:

    Wow, David–I knew your health issues were bad from the war, but I didn't know how bad. I really admire you for being able to write through it. I know fibromyalgia makes you want to do nothing but sit. I have another friend with the condition.

    My own biggest issue involves my child, and I don't talk about it online because it would invade her privacy. However, happily, that issue, while still present, is much improved and improving all the time.

  14. Just wanted to send big, big hugs your way!!!!!

  15. Elle Rush says:

    Hi, David. My biggest distraction is turning off the television when I need to write, but I am getting much better about that. What I really need to work on is follow-through. I get bored very easily with my projects and the temptation is always to start something new, “just for a break”. By the time I've written 3/4 of a novella, I'm done and it's a real battle to finish it. Since I want to start writing full length novels, I have to get over this abandon-it-itis. Any tips with be greatly appreciated.

  16. Kate pearce says:

    As you probably know David, I don't need a lot of inspirxation to get writing, but I did want to mention what an inspiration your personal story is to me. Thanks for sharing and good luck with the writing. Challenges ahead.

  17. David, big hugs to you and your family. Don't want to bore everyone with my health issues, and I sort of have the attitude that maybe if I ignore them long enough, they will go away. 🙂 I know, I know, but it's a nice thought.

    Just wanted to say my inbox is always open to your subs. 🙂


  18. Oh, David, poke me on this. My big distractions have largely resolved at this point (getting the boys into college and funding issues and the like), but my good habits have been shot. I'm hoping to be employed fulltime soon, so learning how to slip my writing in productively is crucial :).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Want to get notification of my blog posts by email?