When I was first diagnosed and joined AYME (the Association of Young People with M.E.) in the UK, one of the first things I received in my welcome pack was a leaflet about the CFS/M.E. Functional Ability Scale. (In hindsight, it felt so strange receiving a ‘welcome pack’ in this way, even though I was incredibly grateful for it at the time. “Welcome- you’re really, really sick!”)
The Ability Scale gives you a rough indication of how far along the recovery ladder you are and is often used by experts, doctors and patients to monitor progress.
An Ability Scale Example
Should I Use The CFS Functional Ability Scale?
The Advantages of using the Functional Ability Scale
- It can give you reassurance when things are going well and also in the early stages of illness.
- You can cross-reference your symptoms and find out whether or not a new symptom is something common or unusual.
- It can help you track your progress.
- It is a good way of explaining your symptoms/condition to others.
The Disadvantages of using the Functional Ability Scale
(This is going to sounds like I’m completely bashing this system, but I’m really not!)
- The criteria are based on someone else’s idea of what your healing journey should look (i.e. your 40% might be different to someone else’s 40%)
- The symptoms described are quite formulaic and although designed to help, they might only cover some of your symptoms, not all of them. (sometimes, you might be a mixture of two bands, for example).
- The big one- if you have a relapse, you might feel like you’ve failed in some way.
- The scale can encourage striving and pushing yourself too hard which, again, could lead to relapses.
- Too much focus on the scale can cause a certain amount of stress and worry in the body, which might make you feel sicker, in the worst case scenario. Click here and here to understand what I mean.
At the end of the day, if referring to and using the scale works for you, then I think it’s a brilliant tool. But if you find yourself feeling disheartened and like you’re putting too much pressure on yourself, then maybe take a step back. Using the scale as a reference point occasionally is perfectly acceptable as well.
Let me know below, do you use a scale like this? Do you find it useful?
Love, Katie xxx