Tory Majority Day 25: Brain Fog – How Nasty Accidents Happen With CFSME, Safety And DLA PIP

Yesterday was cooking day. I started off cooking first thing in the morning as I have to do with any energy-requiring activity but I was tired and suffering pay back symptoms after Saturday.

With my disability, MECFS, that means that I was cooking whilst suffering problems with physical exhaustion and brain fog. 

Brain fog is a odd, pervasive cognitive symptom. It’s as if your mind doesn’t have the layers of thinking you usually have – complex thoughts are erased. In it’s place is a type of blankness where your ordinary thoughts would be.

With recipes that I know very well even when brain fog is there, I can pretty much automatically put ingredients together and count cooking times and wash up afterwards.

Courgette leek fritata.

Courgette leek fritata.

Round about the time I was putting this courgette and leek dish in the oven, I’d created a huge amount of washing up.

I’d had to empty a cupboard because I’d found more mould where some of my cooking impliments were.

I’d taken all the things out of the cupboard, taken a photo so I could have proof of poor quality housing for my council home application and I was in the process of washing everything in hot water, turning objects over and working out whether they had mould too.

I can’t afford to replace things like blenders and bowls, you see.


In the washing up bowl was a mandoline slicer. I bought it ages ago and have never used it. It was sitting half in and half out of the suds in the bowl. I could see the blade shining up at me brightly.

As I looked at the bowl the thought went through my mind:

“That’s a very sharp blade there, you have to use your palm flat on anything you are slicing, be very careful when you pick it up…”

But my body didn’t react to my thoughts, they were totally disconnected from what my body was doing. While the thoughts were going through my mind I’d already put my hand on the mandoline and sliced straight through my ring finger on the blade…..

I’m sure I don’t have to describe what happened next. There was blood everywhere.

I’m single and I live alone. I don’t drive and I don’t have a carer. I am on ESA and had very little money left in my account – the reason for the cooking session yesterday.

With my left hand I called everyone I knew who had a car and no-one was around while I wrapped kitchen towel around my right ring finger.

I realised I was on my own with it. I turned off the oven, locked up and walked to the cash point to take out all the remaining cash and caught a taxi to A&E. I hadn’t had a shower and was dripping blood down my clothes and the street as I went along because the kitchen towel was sodden with blood.

4 hours later I returned from A&E. My finger was cleaned, glued along the cut and had butterfly clips closing it. The adrenaline rush that powered me there ran out and I ended up in tears in A&E and feeling very unwell indeed.

Yesterday when I walked back into my kitchen I surveyed the scene. It looked like a crime scene photograph, there was blood everywhere.

The mandoline was still sitting in the suds, shining brightly and it’s blade was staring up at me.

My finger is bandaged and I finished typing yesterday’s post with my ring finger sticking in mid air as I am now. I’m washing my hair wearing a rubber washing up glove [mental note: next time you wash up a mandoline, wear it as well!] and haven’t been able to have a bath since Friday.

MECFS and personal safety

This isn’t the first time I’ve harmed myself since I’ve had MECFS. I’ve had such a blank mind that I’ve thought I’ve checked that roads are clear and then narrowly missed being hit by cars, I’ve sliced through my thumb on a broken glass, I’ve forgotten that the electric hob is on and burned myself too.

Those are serious things that have happened – then there’s not so serious things like getting medical appointment times wrong when I had adopted all my strategies to make sure I was planning things correctly as well. 

DLA application 

When I applied for DLA I filled out the section that asks for information about personal safety.I explained how this sort of thing happens as a result of having CFSME.

Because of being turned down, the appeal process and not being well enough to attend a Tribunal I don’t have DLA coming in and I won’t be applying for PIP because the system is so enormously stressful and weighed against the claimant even though it would mean I’d have the money to pay for a carer, help with cooking or cleaning or for emergencies like this.

Yesterday’s accident is now no longer a surprise I’m all too sorry to say.

When people say “Oh, ME, that’s the one when you feel tired all the time, isn’t it?” they have absolutely no idea how dangerous it can be.

© Lindy 2015 

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