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ME: The Never Ending Boxing Match

"Boxing Gloves and MEOne of my favorite sports, believe it or not, is boxing.  I love to watch boxing matches and have for as long as I can remember.  It’s not really about the brutality for me, but it is more about the art.

A boxer has to hone his craft in order to become a great boxer.  He has to build stamina, learn how to throw a combination of punches, and predict his opponent’s moves; all the while preparing his own counter-moves.

Perhaps what I love most about boxing, however, is what sets one boxer apart from another: a steel-like inner strength and determination.

As spectators of the sport, we understand that a boxer would never enter the ring thinking he was going to lose.  He always enters the ring determined to win.  Never does a boxer box from an ideology of loss.  He always comes from a position of strength – to win.

Boxing is a great analogy to segue into one of the most challenging aspects of ME/CFS – the emotional and physical toll of this devastating illness on the patient that occurs from repeated crashes.  In many ways, ME/CFS is a never-ending boxing match for approximately 17 million people worldwide.

Imagine being in a boxing ring, fighting for your life.  You jab your opponent and he jabs you back. Then you slam him with a powerful punch to his jaw only to have him surprise you with a right cross.  You dance yourself into a better position and throw your best punch connecting above his eye, as you watch it swell shut.  Without warning, however, your opponent comes back at you with a counter punch and lands you flat on your backside.

But you’re determined, so you get back up.  You keep on fighting. You keep throwing punches and you keep giving it everything you’ve got.  Then out of the blue, your opponent surprises you with a combination punch, and again, you find yourself lying on your backside.

Imagine doing that for the rest of your life and never having any prospect of winning.

As an ME/CFS sufferer, eventually those unrelenting punches will change your expectations, your dreams, and your hopes.  They will even change your health. You go from being someone who is functioning at 80%; to someone who is now functioning at 60%; to all of sudden discovering you are now functioning at 20-40%.

Or, you go from someone who can venture outside to someone who is now in a wheelchair, house-bound, or even bed-bound.

This illness never stops hitting you.  It never stops throwing punches.  It never stops knocking you flat on your backside.  It never lets up.

For so many years, I have heard researchers, psychiatrists, and those who choose not to believe that those of us who suffer with ME/CFS, say that we are lazy, or are making ourselves sick because we are talking ourselves into being sick.

Well, no one would go into a boxing ring and fight thinking they were never going to win. You don’t go into a fight thinking you’re going to lose – you go into a fight thinking you’re going to win.  And you keep fighting until you do.

That is what I see, day after day, week after week, talking to people with ME/CFS.  Some of them have had ME/CFS for 6 months, some for a year, some 10 years, some 20 years, and even some … 30 years!  Some of these incredible people are now house-bound, wheel-chair dependent, and bed-bound.

Many ME/CFS sufferers, while able to work part-time or leave their homes periodically, do so with severe consequences physically with repeated crashes (punches) in the after math of the event.

In other situations, they are required to do a lot of planning ahead; resting and pacing days and weeks before, in order to accomplish even the simples of events.

Every one of these courageous individuals is in a boxing ring and they’re fighting every single moment of every single day.  While the illness continues to throw punches and knock them to the ground, they get back up and fight some more.  No matter how many times this illness knocks them to the ground; they find an inner-strength from deep within, pick themselves up, and fight again … and again … and again.

That is not laziness.  That is not depression. That is not a mental illness or a case of talking themselves into being sick with ME/CFS.

People with depression don’t fight back, day after day, year after year.  They don’t get up over and over and over. Only people who have a tenacious, determined outlook in life, who believe, who have hope, who have vision, and who have dreams do that!

The next time you hear about someone being ill with ME/CFS, remember that they are in the fight for their lives in this never-ending boxing match, and yet, they continue to hope, to fight, and to hang on, believing that a causal link will be found and they will one day be able to finally stop fighting.

Note:  “Dominique’s Corner, Dominique’s monthly column printed in Life Skill Magazine, is cross-posted  here with permission of LSM.  If you would like to receive a free copy of Life Skill Magazine, you can sign up here.  Or you can check out Discovering Purposed, a blog about creating a purpose driven life, by going here.

Determined to continue forward,

"Author's Signature"



18 thoughts on “ME: The Never Ending Boxing Match”

  1. Linda says:

    Great post, Dominique! So very true :)

    1. Dominique says:

      Linda – Thank you for commenting and thank you for your compliment! :-)

  2. Tracy says:

    I just came across your blog this evening and have to tell you how great it is. Can’t wait to come back and read more soon. I love the analogy you used in this post about how no one would go into the ring knowing that they would lose the fight. Your words so well describe what this battle is like. Personally I’ve been fighting it for almost twenty years and it can be so frustrating!

    1. Dominique says:

      Tracy – I’m so glad you found me! :-)

      I, too, have been struggling for over 20 years so I can soooo relate.

      I look forward to getting to know you better in the days and weeks ahead!

  3. phylor says:

    People with chronic illnesses such as CFS/ME have amazing inner strength; they continue to battle even when knocked to the ground. That inner strength should be celebrated and hono(u)red, not denegrated by those who don’t “believe” that CFS/ME really exists. Your efforts on the part of folks with ME are admirable and extremely important to the broader invisible chronic illness community as well.
    phylor´s last blog post ..thanksgiving is not just a day in november

    1. Dominique says:

      Phylor – As always…thank you for your gracious comments!

      Maybe if I say it enough times, the dis-believers will come to understand how sick we really are.

      One can only hope, huh? :-)

  4. upnorth says:

    well written. This is exactly what these crashes feel like – being punched over and over and over…..sometimes I ask myself why I keep trying? And yet I think it’s human nature. Oh course we WANT to improve, make the most of the good days etc. Great Post Dominique.
    upnorth´s last blog post ..symptom questions

    1. Dominique says:

      Upnorth – I actually forgot to clarify that this was my monthly column for Life Skills Magazine that Ayo has given me permission to cross-post for those like me with eye issues.

      I have those days as well. I think it also goes to our Type-A personalities too. We have that innate “pit bull” quality that makes us hang on with everything we have! lol

      Hope you are improving from your last crash. :-)

  5. Frank says:


    This was a very humbling and eye opening analogy. I must be honest that the condition in which you battle against is one I was not to familiar with. Not anymore. Using the great imagery you provided I now have a greater understanding of your struggle and it give me hope. The hope comes from the strength of knowing that no matter how many times your condition knocks you down you have the will to keep standing back up and resuming the fight. To me that takes a lot of guts and I am honored to be in your corner cheering you on. So, tell your oposition that it won’t be like this forever because one day real soon you are going to hit back and hit back hard. As a matter of fact this post was your best blow yet. Keep fighting! Great post
    Frank´s last blog post ..Get These Chains Off of Me!

    1. Dominique says:

      Frank – Your comment brought me to tears.

      That is all “we” want … is to have people in our corner, cheering us on instead of constantly hearing “we” are lazy, making ourselves sick, or God forbid, it’s just all in our heads!

      You can’t know how much your comment means to me. Thank you! :-)

      You’re right. I’m not done throwing punches. Nor is the almost 20 million other ME sufferes like me! 😉

  6. Yun Yi says:

    “People with depression don’t fight back, day after day, year after year. They don’t get up over and over and over. Only people who have a tenacious, determined outlook in life, who believe, who have hope, who have vision, and who have dreams do that!”
    — Dominique, you have just pointed out an essential and magnificent difference between people with depression and people with ME! Doctors should know this when they diagnose!

    1. Dominique says:

      Yun Yi – :-). Thank you! It is a huge difference isn’t it!

  7. Patricia Stotler says:

    You have done it again. A great analogy. I’m among those
    who has been in “CFS boxing match” for 25
    years. I sure am tired of being knocked down to the point
    of now being housebound.
    My latest strategy “in the ring” was to recently invite a woman from
    my church who is unemployed and homeless (chronically so)
    to live with me. She “pays” rent by helping me with housework and yard work and shopping. I cannot afford to pay in cash
    but I have a home to share. Living alone was less stressful
    and more peaceful and I’m needing to depend on God for
    this arrangement to be a blessing for both of us.

    1. Dominique says:

      Patricia – it sounds like a great trade-off but I can imagine having someone in your space is very challenging.

      I hope this will eventually work out for both of you.

      How’s Lucy doing?

  8. mo says:

    Great blog Dominique, I really enjoyed it!
    mo´s last blog post ..I’m such a Klutz-My Brothers are Gonna Love This!

    1. Dominique says:

      Mo – Thanks. I’m so glad you left a comment. I’ve missed seeing you here!

      How are you doing with the aftermath of your fall?

  9. Patricia Stotler says:

    Lucy is fine. Her eye birth defect isn’t causing any irritation.
    With this long relapse I sometimes think I should not have
    gotten another dog. But I did and I love her dearly.

    1. Dominique says:

      Patricia – I’m glad Lucy’s eye is proving to be a non issue. Yeah!

      I can imagine how challenging taking care of her is in a severe crash.

      I often wonder, though, if their love and companionship outweighs the pushing to take care of them.

      I desperately miss my little guy. Not a day goes by, even 4months later, that my heart is not heavy with continued grief and loss from his death.

      Maybe some day soon I can feel comfortable about getting another furry friend.

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