Teona Studemire

@teona_studemire | contributor
Super Contributor
Teona Studemire is a streamer, published writer, content creator, and Communications major. They specialize in writing different topics surrounding disability, sex education and positivity, neurodivergency, mental health, and their intersections with Blackness. They've written for Metro.co.uk, ProjectLETS, Juniper Unlimited, and Medium. You can follow them on Instagram, TikTok and Twitter: @teonawrites

Stop Making Fun of Gadgets That Help Disabled People

Not everything is made for you and that’s an understandably difficult pill to swallow. We live in a world where inaccessibility is the default; where tools that are created to make things easier are heavily scrutinized, deemed “lazy,” and called “useless.” “But ____ is such an easy thing to do. Whoever can’t do it just isn’t trying hard enough or being lazy.” “Who even needs this device?” The answer to that is: people like me. There are many gadgets that are explicitly geared towards disabled people that help make things more accomodating and accessible, such as shower chairs, AAC devices, shoe horns, rollators, and button hook/zipper pull devices. But there are also many devices that serve that same purpose but are lesser-known. Sock sliders, for instance, allow users to put their socks on when they’re unable to reach down to pull them up without requiring the assistance of another person. Banana slicers, rocking knives, electric jar openers, and one-handed prep boards allow users with limited dexterity, amputees, etc. to safely prepare food. Even countertop dishwashers have saved my hands in my tiny apartment as someone who can barely wash dishes without pain. We have this overarching belief that doing things the hard way is morally superior and that using tools to make things easier or to save you some time or energy, is cheating or makes you a failure. There’s been a rise in this activity on social media with the creation of TikTok accounts dedicated to making videos showing off different types of cool or interesting gadgets that tend to go viral. Ableds immediately take to the internet streets to proclaim the absurdity of the product as if they are the arbiters of whether or not a device has worth. But when your entire worldview is centered around excluding the disabled experience (intentional or not), it makes sense that you wouldn’t think outside of non-disabled people. You would forget that disabled people exist until you’re reminded before declaring that you “didn’t mean disabled people” or that “disabled people were obviously excluded.” This is a reflection of how pervasive ableism is in our society. Sock slider, a useful product for people with disabilities that is often mocked by non-disabled people. Ableism creates this mindset that everyone can do anything and if they can’t, it’s because they just aren’t trying hard enough, dedicated enough, or they don’t care enough. In other words, they’re lazy. Disabled people see it all the time. For example, wheelchair users are often told that if we just tried hard enough, we could walk normally or that even considering wheelchair use is giving up. This helps non-disabled people cope with the shakiness of life and the inevitable reality that we all can and will become disabled at some point in life. Ability and access needs can change for a variety of reasons out of our control. Ableism harms everyone. Perpetuating this notion that anyone outside of disabled people using an item to make a task easier makes them lazy hurts all of us. Whether you’re disabled or not, living in a society that shames and degrades products to make life more accessible and accommodating leaves an ingrained belief in all of us that we have to push ourselves to do anything and everything, even if we aren’t feeling up to it, to prove something. It can prevent disabled people from seeking out mobility aids, students from asking for accommodations, and workers forcing themselves to work a job or do tasks that they can no longer perform. As someone with mobility and dexterity issues being just some of the symptoms of my conditions, I can’t stand to wash dishes at the sink. My hands are too weak to hold things for long and my back begins to hurt severely from too much time upright. Dishwashers and gadgets that will scrub the dishes for me are lifesavers. Dishes go from taking me weeks and causing several flare-ups and a possible trip to the ER from pinched nerves, to one day of gradually running dishes through my countertop dishwasher. Disability encompasses a wide range of experiences, so not every device that could help someone else would be helpful for me. That doesn’t mean that that device has no function or purpose just because I personally don’t benefit from it. Every item created isn’t going to be created for me. Accessibility and accommodation aren’t exclusive to disabled people. You don’t have to be disabled to benefit from gadgets that make different parts of life easier. That’s their purpose. Maybe using them saves you time, that’s still a perfectly understandable and valid use. You don’t need to reach a moral quota to be allowed to use something without being deemed lazy. You don’t get a cookie for choosing to wash the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher, or for being able to click a button with your own fingers instead of using automated devices that do it for you.

Stop Shaming Lizzo for Being a Proud, Fat, Black Woman

Ever since Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was featured in Netflix’s film, “Someone Great,” and the 2017 song reached the #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100, Lizzo herself has been regularly centered in social media discourse across a variety of platforms. As exemplified in her 2021 song “Rumours” (featuring Cardi B), Lizzo has had every aspect of her identity picked apart and criticized for clicks and clout under the guise of concerns surrounding health, morality, children’s internet safety, and the publics assigned title of “role model.” Celebrities are no stranger to the public enforcing the role model title on them as a way to shove them into a box of respectability, but Black celebrities, especially multi-marginalized ones like Black, fat women, get it especially. Regardless of what Lizzo does or wears, she is heavily scrutinized and shamed. One could say this comes with the territory of celebrity, but stardom alone doesn’t account for the cruel treatment she faces. It’s fatphobia. Fat Black women have a trope that they are expected to follow. From TV shows, to movies, to cartoons, to comics, fat Black women are characterized as the comedy relief, the emotional support, the Mammy. They are to be loud, but quiet when it comes to their confidence and appearance and serve as the backup to a skinnier character, rarely ever the main character that’s cast in a truly good light. When Lizzo stepped onto the scene, she made it clear that she wasn’t about any of that. She pushes self-love and being yourself even when everyone else doesn’t want you to. She doesn’t exist to serve as a gauge of your moral standing or as a role model for you or your children to follow every step of the way. She’s a human being who simply exists, and due to being a celebrity, her existence is spread across social media platforms making people think that they somehow know enough about her to hold her to their arbitrary standards. Whether she gains or loses weight, has her ass out and who she’s possibly in a relationship with, is no one’s business. Every aspect of her life doesn’t require a veiled think piece or academic critique. From TikTok to Instagram to Twitter, just her posting pictures of herself alone is enough to relight the fires of whatever discourse surrounded her the week before. I imagine it has to be exhausting being picked apart like a seventh-grade science class anatomy project. She’s constantly accused of “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle” (which is just a veiled attempt at hiding fatphobia behind faux health concerns) despite her talking about exercise and eating differently. Since she’s aiming to better herself while also pushing back against weight loss being the goal, that’s ignored since it doesn’t fit the ongoing narrative. Fatness and healthiness can’t coexist in the eyes of a public who can’t even acknowledge that skinniness doesn’t automatically equate to having good health. Lizzo is frequently stripped of her humanity for doing the same exact things that skinnier celebrities do while getting three times the vitriol. Can y’all just let her live?

What It Was Like to Get My First Infusion Treatment for M.E.

It had been weeks of the worst flare I’d ever gone through and I was only getting worse. I could barely sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and the fatigue grew more and more each day. I’m used to feeling like death is knocking at my door, but this time was different and the desperation set in. I’d been reading research papers and anecdotes for years on IV therapy for my conditions and conditions I share many symptoms with. I regularly drink an electrolyte and salt powder mix with my water and that brings some relief on top of helping me stay hydrated, but there were no promises that a saline infusion would do anything at all during this flare. My PCP was out of the office so I couldn’t ask her to refer me to an infusion center in time, so I turned to the many infusion centers in my city. It was a shot in the dark. A $250 shot in the dark. I didn’t have the strength to leave my house and I was willing to pay extra for a nurse to come to my home and let me do the infusion from the comfort of my couch. It was better than the risk of worsening my flare-up while I was out in public with no assistance. I got a basic combo bag of saline, B-complex vitamins, B12, vitamin C, and zinc as it was listed as the more popular option for energy and immune system boosting and every other option was significantly more expensive. The nurse arrived on a morning I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and my symptoms were at their worst. The perfect position to truly tell how effective the treatment would be. She took my medical history down and informed me of how everything would work and what to look out for. She stuck me twice in one arm before having to move to the next (cursed tiny veins) and was the first medical provider to inform me that I needed smaller gauge needles after many a blown vein in my medical history. After I was hooked up and comfortable, she reminded me of the number to text her if I needed anything and went back to the van to give me my privacy. Aside from the IV needle in my arm (which was as uncomfortable as expected), I was pretty comfortable. I turned on some YouTube videos and waited. Within 10 or 15 minutes, I began to taste the saline, which I now know means that it’s working. To my surprise, I started to feel… good? It was a gradual buildup as the IV dripped, but I could feel the brain fog lifting and I had a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. It was like the clouds had started to part to show the sun after weeks of overcast weather and heavy clouds. By the time the IV finished, I could feel the flare easing away. I still opted to nap for an hour afterward, but by the end of the day, I had prepared two meals, done some dishes, and put together a piece of furniture that had been delivered that day. It didn’t feel like gravity was trying to drag me down, my heart rate wasn’t beating out of my chest from the slightest movement, and my joints hurt significantly less. I felt hydrated as hell and ran to the bathroom a lot over the course of the day afterward, but I had energy. It’s been over 24 hours since the infusion and I can’t believe a bag of salt water and vitamins has given me a vitality I thought was long gone. I’m still ill and I feel it, but my body feels like it did before I got my M.E. diagnosis and I was put through physical therapy. I’d given up hope on treatment options that could work for me, but for the first time in forever, this experience has given me something to fight for.

What It Was Like to Get My First Infusion Treatment for M.E.

It had been weeks of the worst flare I’d ever gone through and I was only getting worse. I could barely sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and the fatigue grew more and more each day. I’m used to feeling like death is knocking at my door, but this time was different and the desperation set in. I’d been reading research papers and anecdotes for years on IV therapy for my conditions and conditions I share many symptoms with. I regularly drink an electrolyte and salt powder mix with my water and that brings some relief on top of helping me stay hydrated, but there were no promises that a saline infusion would do anything at all during this flare. My PCP was out of the office so I couldn’t ask her to refer me to an infusion center in time, so I turned to the many infusion centers in my city. It was a shot in the dark. A $250 shot in the dark. I didn’t have the strength to leave my house and I was willing to pay extra for a nurse to come to my home and let me do the infusion from the comfort of my couch. It was better than the risk of worsening my flare-up while I was out in public with no assistance. I got a basic combo bag of saline, B-complex vitamins, B12, vitamin C, and zinc as it was listed as the more popular option for energy and immune system boosting and every other option was significantly more expensive. The nurse arrived on a morning I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and my symptoms were at their worst. The perfect position to truly tell how effective the treatment would be. She took my medical history down and informed me of how everything would work and what to look out for. She stuck me twice in one arm before having to move to the next (cursed tiny veins) and was the first medical provider to inform me that I needed smaller gauge needles after many a blown vein in my medical history. After I was hooked up and comfortable, she reminded me of the number to text her if I needed anything and went back to the van to give me my privacy. Aside from the IV needle in my arm (which was as uncomfortable as expected), I was pretty comfortable. I turned on some YouTube videos and waited. Within 10 or 15 minutes, I began to taste the saline, which I now know means that it’s working. To my surprise, I started to feel… good? It was a gradual buildup as the IV dripped, but I could feel the brain fog lifting and I had a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. It was like the clouds had started to part to show the sun after weeks of overcast weather and heavy clouds. By the time the IV finished, I could feel the flare easing away. I still opted to nap for an hour afterward, but by the end of the day, I had prepared two meals, done some dishes, and put together a piece of furniture that had been delivered that day. It didn’t feel like gravity was trying to drag me down, my heart rate wasn’t beating out of my chest from the slightest movement, and my joints hurt significantly less. I felt hydrated as hell and ran to the bathroom a lot over the course of the day afterward, but I had energy. It’s been over 24 hours since the infusion and I can’t believe a bag of salt water and vitamins has given me a vitality I thought was long gone. I’m still ill and I feel it, but my body feels like it did before I got my M.E. diagnosis and I was put through physical therapy. I’d given up hope on treatment options that could work for me, but for the first time in forever, this experience has given me something to fight for.

It's Possible to Live Alone If You Have Trauma or Anxiety

I look around my space at the items that fill my home, each piece either with its own story or background and some a reflection of me and my interests. For the first time in years, I feel at peace. My environment is comfortable and curated with my needs in mind. I was always afraid to live alone. Growing up with complex PTSD (C-PTSD) and trauma from neglect produced an immense fear of being alone, both in relationships and physically. My childhood homes always had a little busyness to them. Whether it was the calm, quiet sounds of my mother’s keyboard in the other room or my brother’s TV as he played video games, and sometimes the sound of my mother’s voice carried throughout different rooms as she talked on the phone, there were sounds of life outside of my own. When I first moved out and into my own apartment four years ago, I couldn’t sleep at night. I was anxious. Every sound from the hums of appliances, the crickets outside, or the sounds of my neighbors entering and leaving their own units, kept me on edge. Quietness is typically associated with comfort and serenity but for me, quiet was absence, nothingness, and when you’re trying to work through abandonment issues and the anxiety of being alone, quiet doesn’t bring you ease. There were many times I woke up in a panic, heart beating out of my chest, sweat clamming my neck at a sound outside I’d convinced myself was an intruder. My brain was filled with thoughts of my home being broken into, as I’d been haunted by all the times I’d woken up mid-home intrusion as a toddler. It became a routine to check every door, every cabinet, and under my bed when I came home and before I went to bed for someone hiding in the darkness. Pets helped, whether it be the sounds of my cats meowing or playing, or just the knowledge that I wasn’t completely alone. Their presence was a comfort while I also relied on their perceptiveness to give away things in our environment being amiss. It took years to stop looking over my shoulder in my own home. Years to sleep with the lights off and stay asleep throughout the night. Being alone felt like a prison, but now it feels like freedom. I frequently listen to Ari Lennox’s “New Apartment” even though my apartment is far from new because it reminds me of the journey it took me to get to this level of peace in solitary. I actually look forward to the quiet, calm environment of my home after a day filled with strong colors, endless conversation, and the sounds of busy city life. I look forward to a space that is my own to mold and control to my whims and ever-changing aesthetics. My space is always my own and I’m free of the fear of my home ever being uncomfortable because of a falling out between myself and a roommate or partner. Coming home is the equivalent of taking a bra off after a long day; I can shed my mask and slip into comfortable clothes, free of perception from the public. I still check behind the doors, in every cabinet, and under my bed routinely, but now, once I’m settled, I can truly relax and enjoy my time to myself, no longer incapacitated by my need for other people to be in this space with me.

It's Possible to Live Alone If You Have Trauma or Anxiety

I look around my space at the items that fill my home, each piece either with its own story or background and some a reflection of me and my interests. For the first time in years, I feel at peace. My environment is comfortable and curated with my needs in mind. I was always afraid to live alone. Growing up with complex PTSD (C-PTSD) and trauma from neglect produced an immense fear of being alone, both in relationships and physically. My childhood homes always had a little busyness to them. Whether it was the calm, quiet sounds of my mother’s keyboard in the other room or my brother’s TV as he played video games, and sometimes the sound of my mother’s voice carried throughout different rooms as she talked on the phone, there were sounds of life outside of my own. When I first moved out and into my own apartment four years ago, I couldn’t sleep at night. I was anxious. Every sound from the hums of appliances, the crickets outside, or the sounds of my neighbors entering and leaving their own units, kept me on edge. Quietness is typically associated with comfort and serenity but for me, quiet was absence, nothingness, and when you’re trying to work through abandonment issues and the anxiety of being alone, quiet doesn’t bring you ease. There were many times I woke up in a panic, heart beating out of my chest, sweat clamming my neck at a sound outside I’d convinced myself was an intruder. My brain was filled with thoughts of my home being broken into, as I’d been haunted by all the times I’d woken up mid-home intrusion as a toddler. It became a routine to check every door, every cabinet, and under my bed when I came home and before I went to bed for someone hiding in the darkness. Pets helped, whether it be the sounds of my cats meowing or playing, or just the knowledge that I wasn’t completely alone. Their presence was a comfort while I also relied on their perceptiveness to give away things in our environment being amiss. It took years to stop looking over my shoulder in my own home. Years to sleep with the lights off and stay asleep throughout the night. Being alone felt like a prison, but now it feels like freedom. I frequently listen to Ari Lennox’s “New Apartment” even though my apartment is far from new because it reminds me of the journey it took me to get to this level of peace in solitary. I actually look forward to the quiet, calm environment of my home after a day filled with strong colors, endless conversation, and the sounds of busy city life. I look forward to a space that is my own to mold and control to my whims and ever-changing aesthetics. My space is always my own and I’m free of the fear of my home ever being uncomfortable because of a falling out between myself and a roommate or partner. Coming home is the equivalent of taking a bra off after a long day; I can shed my mask and slip into comfortable clothes, free of perception from the public. I still check behind the doors, in every cabinet, and under my bed routinely, but now, once I’m settled, I can truly relax and enjoy my time to myself, no longer incapacitated by my need for other people to be in this space with me.

Florida's Don't Say Gay Bill Could Harm Sexual Abuse Survivors

Ever since the rise of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill here in Florida, I’ve seen hundreds of parents backing it under the guise of protecting their children from grooming. So many parents are conflating sex education, and learning about gender and attraction outside of the cisgender-heterosexual default as predatory. I’m seeing people say that schools shouldn’t be allowed to teach kids about this and that it isn’t age-appropriate because preteens and older are the only age groups who should be learning about sex. There are so many issues behind all of this, but the idea of leaving sex health and education to be learned late into adolescence has been extremely hard for me as a child sexual assault survivor. Many of us don’t have parents or guardians to properly educate us; some of us come from abusive homes; some of us are surrounded by family members who view anything related to sex, genitals, puberty, or hormones are taboos to only be discussed in whispers. I first became a child sexual assault victim at 4 years old — long before anyone would have even thought to educate me on consent, boundaries, anatomy, or sex in a way my brain could understand. For these parents, I was too young to learn about sex, but what many are forgetting is that for a lot of us, we are never afforded the shield of youth. It took me 14 years to come to terms with my assault. I didn’t know how to talk about it or who to talk to about it. I felt ashamed. I felt dirty and disgusting and when I got my first period and my first bra and all the “firsts” teenagers have when going through puberty, I felt anxious and confused. I had no one to turn to because I had no one comfortable enough to talk to me about it. I was left to discover all of it on my own. My experience with sex education was shame and fear-based, with the goal to scare us out of sex rather than educate us. I knew I was queer when I was in elementary school. It wasn’t sexual, and yet I couldn’t even be afforded the education and language to describe myself. If I had received a proper education, I would have known I was taken advantage of, I would have known my identities, and I would have been able to recognize all the times my boundaries had been crossed and my body hadn’t been respected. We know that this bill is just an excuse to throw rocks and hide their hands when it comes to abusing us (the LGBTQIA+ community) and stripping us of our rights. The bill is intentionally vague to leave room for freedom to enforce however they see fit. But the rhetoric they’re using to apparently “defend” victims like me does nothing but cause more harm and leave more of us wandering in the dark.

The Times I Thought About Leaving a Toxic Relationship

I remember the first time I thought about leaving. It was a little over a year and a half into the relationship. I’d just gotten home from getting a new piercing and I was texting updates on my day. I was so excited. This was something daring and new and I still couldn’t believe I’d gone through with it. I remember weeks back when I was talking excitedly about wanting this piercing, you told me unprovoked how unattractive and unappealing you found body piercings but that I could do what I wanted, you just wouldn’t share in the excitement. I showed pictures of my piercings and let it be known that I didn’t expect my excitement to be shared so I didn’t expect your opinion. Things spiraled into a fight about me apparently not caring about how my partner felt and claims of me being mean. We didn’t speak for days until I felt overrun with guilt and I apologized even though I was still confused about how we even got there. I remember the fourth time I considered leaving. It was two years in and my birthday. In the early stages of our relationship, you’d placed a boundary that you didn’t want to hear about me getting drunk since you had a lot of bad experiences with people while they were drunk. I assured you I had no problem with respecting this boundary since I never got drunk anyway. My best friend took me to dinner and bought me my first legal drink, the first and only alcoholic beverage I’d had that day. We’d been texting off and on all day and I told you about the wonderful dinner and things blew up with you telling me that I didn’t respect your boundaries since I mentioned in passing the one and only drink I’d had. If your boundary was just around alcohol in general, I never would have mentioned it. I even told you how I didn’t get drunk and that this was the only drink I’d had and the fight only got worse. I was once again guilt-tripped and gaslit into feeling like I’d overstepped a boundary. There was a part of my brain that knew I’d done nothing wrong, but you were really good at making me feel uncertain of myself. I don’t know how many times I’d thought about leaving by this point. You randomly reprimanded me for not respecting a boundary and claiming that I agreed to an ultimatum that would result in me cutting off one of my closest friends because y’all had had a falling out I still didn’t know the context of. We’d gone back and forth for hours with you battering me down emotionally, claiming I didn’t care about how you felt. I sat on my couch, pulling at the ends of my hair in frustration and confusion. We’d never had this conversation and if we had, I would have already let you know I wouldn’t agree to this ultimatum. I started to push back. I told you that you were being disrespectful in the way that you were talking to me. I reminded you of the way I communicate as you referenced a passing hypothetical general question as the day we’d discussed this ultimatum. A hypothetical question that I answered by telling you that I wouldn’t agree to an ultimatum from a partner asking me to cut someone off arbitrarily, especially if it was just because one of our mutual friends didn’t want to be friends anymore. No matter how much resolve I’d built up into defending myself over being gaslit and manipulated, I still wasn’t strong enough. Still wasn’t confident enough. It had been four years of random fights, miscommunication, and misunderstandings. Four years of me being gaslit and having my confidence and self-assurance worn away when I brought up issues I’d had. Four years of being called a liar, a manipulator, mean, and uncaring. It’s almost two years later before I finally leave. We’re like a bomb with a fuse slowly burning. It’s only been two or so months since the first time I actually told you I wanted to end things. I was so scared, so unsure. You’d created the perfect environment for me to feel dependent on you. I ended up taking it all back. This time was different. It was like I’d been packing away little pieces of myself since the one big fight we’d had that changed everything. My trust in you was broken and my view of our future together was blank. I was trying so hard to make things work. Then we had a fight. I remember feeling so angry, so frustrated to be back at this point… So tired. I stared at my phone in my hands and I did something I didn’t usually do: I stopped fighting. I was beyond familiar with this game. I had memorized all the steps of this dance. As messages flooded my inbox, my phone buzzing constantly, I could feel a peaceful resolve wash over me. I used to daydream about being alone. It’s a weird thing to envision when in a long-term relationship and it was the final sign I needed to finish putting away the last little bits of myself. I genuinely felt sad and mourned the peace I had before I entered a relationship, I’d begun to accept that I’d never have that again. That my future would look like this. No amount of good made up for all the bad. So I let you talk to yourself as I stared at the wall in my bedroom contemplating, trying to conjure up the strength I knew I needed. My stomach was twisted, churning and I was nauseous. My hands shook with anxiety and anger but I did it. I closed the zipper of the metaphorical duffle bag in my heart and left it all behind. I cried constantly for three days and on the third day, I danced. I was free.

What It Was Like to Get My First Infusion Treatment for M.E.

It had been weeks of the worst flare I’d ever gone through and I was only getting worse. I could barely sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and the fatigue grew more and more each day. I’m used to feeling like death is knocking at my door, but this time was different and the desperation set in. I’d been reading research papers and anecdotes for years on IV therapy for my conditions and conditions I share many symptoms with. I regularly drink an electrolyte and salt powder mix with my water and that brings some relief on top of helping me stay hydrated, but there were no promises that a saline infusion would do anything at all during this flare. My PCP was out of the office so I couldn’t ask her to refer me to an infusion center in time, so I turned to the many infusion centers in my city. It was a shot in the dark. A $250 shot in the dark. I didn’t have the strength to leave my house and I was willing to pay extra for a nurse to come to my home and let me do the infusion from the comfort of my couch. It was better than the risk of worsening my flare-up while I was out in public with no assistance. I got a basic combo bag of saline, B-complex vitamins, B12, vitamin C, and zinc as it was listed as the more popular option for energy and immune system boosting and every other option was significantly more expensive. The nurse arrived on a morning I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and my symptoms were at their worst. The perfect position to truly tell how effective the treatment would be. She took my medical history down and informed me of how everything would work and what to look out for. She stuck me twice in one arm before having to move to the next (cursed tiny veins) and was the first medical provider to inform me that I needed smaller gauge needles after many a blown vein in my medical history. After I was hooked up and comfortable, she reminded me of the number to text her if I needed anything and went back to the van to give me my privacy. Aside from the IV needle in my arm (which was as uncomfortable as expected), I was pretty comfortable. I turned on some YouTube videos and waited. Within 10 or 15 minutes, I began to taste the saline, which I now know means that it’s working. To my surprise, I started to feel… good? It was a gradual buildup as the IV dripped, but I could feel the brain fog lifting and I had a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. It was like the clouds had started to part to show the sun after weeks of overcast weather and heavy clouds. By the time the IV finished, I could feel the flare easing away. I still opted to nap for an hour afterward, but by the end of the day, I had prepared two meals, done some dishes, and put together a piece of furniture that had been delivered that day. It didn’t feel like gravity was trying to drag me down, my heart rate wasn’t beating out of my chest from the slightest movement, and my joints hurt significantly less. I felt hydrated as hell and ran to the bathroom a lot over the course of the day afterward, but I had energy. It’s been over 24 hours since the infusion and I can’t believe a bag of salt water and vitamins has given me a vitality I thought was long gone. I’m still ill and I feel it, but my body feels like it did before I got my M.E. diagnosis and I was put through physical therapy. I’d given up hope on treatment options that could work for me, but for the first time in forever, this experience has given me something to fight for.

What It Was Like to Get My First Infusion Treatment for M.E.

It had been weeks of the worst flare I’d ever gone through and I was only getting worse. I could barely sit up for more than a few minutes at a time and the fatigue grew more and more each day. I’m used to feeling like death is knocking at my door, but this time was different and the desperation set in. I’d been reading research papers and anecdotes for years on IV therapy for my conditions and conditions I share many symptoms with. I regularly drink an electrolyte and salt powder mix with my water and that brings some relief on top of helping me stay hydrated, but there were no promises that a saline infusion would do anything at all during this flare. My PCP was out of the office so I couldn’t ask her to refer me to an infusion center in time, so I turned to the many infusion centers in my city. It was a shot in the dark. A $250 shot in the dark. I didn’t have the strength to leave my house and I was willing to pay extra for a nurse to come to my home and let me do the infusion from the comfort of my couch. It was better than the risk of worsening my flare-up while I was out in public with no assistance. I got a basic combo bag of saline, B-complex vitamins, B12, vitamin C, and zinc as it was listed as the more popular option for energy and immune system boosting and every other option was significantly more expensive. The nurse arrived on a morning I hadn’t had a lot of sleep and my symptoms were at their worst. The perfect position to truly tell how effective the treatment would be. She took my medical history down and informed me of how everything would work and what to look out for. She stuck me twice in one arm before having to move to the next (cursed tiny veins) and was the first medical provider to inform me that I needed smaller gauge needles after many a blown vein in my medical history. After I was hooked up and comfortable, she reminded me of the number to text her if I needed anything and went back to the van to give me my privacy. Aside from the IV needle in my arm (which was as uncomfortable as expected), I was pretty comfortable. I turned on some YouTube videos and waited. Within 10 or 15 minutes, I began to taste the saline, which I now know means that it’s working. To my surprise, I started to feel… good? It was a gradual buildup as the IV dripped, but I could feel the brain fog lifting and I had a clarity I hadn’t experienced in years. It was like the clouds had started to part to show the sun after weeks of overcast weather and heavy clouds. By the time the IV finished, I could feel the flare easing away. I still opted to nap for an hour afterward, but by the end of the day, I had prepared two meals, done some dishes, and put together a piece of furniture that had been delivered that day. It didn’t feel like gravity was trying to drag me down, my heart rate wasn’t beating out of my chest from the slightest movement, and my joints hurt significantly less. I felt hydrated as hell and ran to the bathroom a lot over the course of the day afterward, but I had energy. It’s been over 24 hours since the infusion and I can’t believe a bag of salt water and vitamins has given me a vitality I thought was long gone. I’m still ill and I feel it, but my body feels like it did before I got my M.E. diagnosis and I was put through physical therapy. I’d given up hope on treatment options that could work for me, but for the first time in forever, this experience has given me something to fight for.