Friday, 15 February 2013

Dreaming of Scorching Hot Climes

Anyone who knows me or who has read my article Melting to Death in the Sun: Life as a Reverse SAD Sufferer will be very surprised to hear that I am dreaming of scorching hot climes.  I do not like summer, or hot weather at all.  In fact, right from when I was a child I used to say I wanted to travel around the world living in perpetual autumn and winter.  Then what is it that has me dreaming of scorching hot climes?  My health of course.

Like most people with ME/CFS different seasons and weather conditions affect my health and symptoms in different ways.  Since I became ill in August 2001, there have been three times that I have been almost entirely freed of the shackles of ME/CFS symptoms, and even then one of those times I still experienced them, but the symptoms were reduced in their severity and I was able to manage them.  The other two times were when I visited Portugal and Egypt.  

I visited Portugal at the beginning of summer back in 2003.  London was already hot and humid by the time I left.  I had swollen joints and aching muscles and I was barely functioning.  Some friends had arranged a trip to Portugal and they had invited me.  We'd booked everything several months earlier, before the heat had struck.  My friend later confessed that she was really worried I would not be able to make the trip or if I did that I would not be able to do anything while we were out there.  But I made it and we headed down to the Algarve, in the south of Portugal.  It was already blistering hot by the time we got there, but the hot, dry climate had a magical effect on me.  In the one week we spent there I found myself feeling like I had not done in almost two years; the swelling was gone, my joints were pain free and flexible as were my muscles.  I felt so good and at that time I had not been diagnosed with ME/CFS so I was convinced that all I needed was a break and that the old me was back to stay.

I arrived back in London happy and optimistic, convinced the nightmare was over.  A couple of hours later, I was more ill than when I had left.

The same thing happened when I visited Egypt; the transformation to my body was miraculous.  It's not just that the muscle and joint pain disappears, or that the swelling disappears, it's other stranger things like food allergies just did not exist!  I know because the five star hotel we were staying in had an impressive array of fresh breakfast rolls each morning and I just could not resist and I was fine, absolutely fine!  I found myself eating so much and I lost over half a stone in one week!  I even managed to go swimming.  More than any of these, it was the mental clarity that really rocked me.  When you have ME/CFS, you get something called a foggy brain, and us sufferers just get used to living with cotton wool for brains.  I didn't even realise this until the clarity returned.

I did think about moving to a hotter country permanently.  My parents were looking into buying a second home in Portugal, but for whatever reason, it never transpired.  Then I had that brief period where my symptoms got better, and then I started my slippery slide down again and here I am dreaming of scorching hot climes again.

I love London and I love winter here, but I find myself trying to remember what it felt like to feel well in my body again, and it's becoming almost impossible to do so.  I need to feel well in my body again...even if it's just for a week or so. 


  1. I have had the same experience - mine was at the Red Sea... dry/hot. I was told by locals that the desert climate leads many people who have allergies and conditions like asthma to feel fine while they are there due to the lack of allergens in the air. Maybe I should go there again to see if the effect is replicated some years later!

    1. It would be lovely if you could! I'm seriously considering trying to find a way to see if Portugal has the same effect on me. It would be lovely, even just for a week or so, to feel well again.


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