Inflammation and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for me, have gone hand in aching hand. This may come as a surprise to the CFS uninitiated since the general misconception about CFS is that we're just tired. Trust me, fatigue is only the tip of the CFS dysfunction iceberg.
Inflammation in various forms has dogged me since I became ill almost two decades ago, sometimes in spectacular ways. Most recently, I got up one day with a slightly tender right foot that made me limp a bit. By the end of the day tenderness had turned into pulsing, stabbing pain, and I knew I was in trouble.
My foot had gone from its usual size 10 to something immeasurable. The arch of my foot was disappearing and the top of my foot was expanding. My toes looked like five stubs popping out of a ball. The feeling of pressure continued to build over the next few days. The swelling was moving up my ankle, and my ankle bones were barely visible.
I'd never had this happen to my foot before from no apparent cause. But I'd had this same type of runaway swelling in my right hand and arm before, when it spread from fingertips to shoulder, rendering that limb and extremity useless. Healing was slow and incomplete a year later. Acupuncture from my new naturopath Dr. Kelly Upcott eventually cleared the decks.
I was horrified to think that this experience might repeat itself in my foot and up my leg. I contacted Upcott, who recommended soaking my foot in castor oil.
Yup. Castor oil.
I put my foot in a small tub, poured in enough castor oil to cover the bottom of the container, then took an oil-soaked hand towel and tented the top and sides of my foot. I let it soak for an hour. Wiped it off. Did it again a couple of times the next day. And the next.
From the first soak, pain and swelling began to subside. Within a few days I could walk -- more or less -- and sleep at night.
Within a few weeks I could put a shoe back on. That might sound like a long stretch, but not when you look at my history. I've lost months this way, more times than I can count.
Castor oil is my new love.
The next week, an acupuncture session with my naturopath was intense because, well, because she stuck needles into my sore foot. But the next morning, swelling and pain had taken another quantum leap downward.
And now? My foot almost feels normal and I fully expect to walk away from this and not look back.
I spent 15 years losing the battle against Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Four years ago, I found treatment that worked for me, and now I am making a comeback.
Edited by Alison Stanton