As each individual who has M.E./CFS has their own unique experience with the illness, each person may recognize their own specific signals of impending relapse. When we perceive these signals, activity must be stopped immediately in an attempt to ward off the relapse. Examples of such signals are increased confusion, increased sensitivity to sound and lights, a hand or foot becoming ice cold, a hyper feeling, mood swings or increased irritability.
The unpredictability of our relapses can make it hard to plan and attend social functions. We experience stress, frustration and disappointment when at the last minute we have to cancel our plans.
It is a constant struggle for us to observe these signals, as there may not be any recognizable specific pattern to the symptoms. Because we once were healthy, contributing members of society, it is difficult for us to accept that we can no longer maintain our previous energy level. If we overlook the warning signs of relapse, we may need a prolonged period of time to recover and restore our energy.
At times, family and friends may observe signs of an impending relapse before we do. Frequently, I have heard that a family or friend noticed our pallor (pale skin tones) just prior to a relapse. As a result, they can caution us and tell us we need to rest.