My Journey With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
My journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has been a long one. When I was a teenager, approximately 14 or 15, I was diagnosed with CFS, Fibromyalgia, and the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). This isn’t something that made me change my habits or my way of life at the time. After all, I was only a teenager. I was more interested in boys than taking care of my health back then.
Sure, I had my bad days where I just felt sluggish, my body ached, and I was extremely moody. I just chalked it up to being a ‘girl’ and just got as much sleep as I could. I still did everything like normal…went to school, hung out with friends, and talked on the phone incessantly (which drove my parents crazy).
But, I noticed that as I got older (and had more kids) that I was always tired, I always hurt, and my ‘bad days’ far out-numbered my ‘good days’. Still, I didn’t do much of anything except catch naps with my babies whenever I could, go to bed as early as my kids would allow me, and wake up as late as possible with the hopes of ‘catching up’ on obviously missed sleep and rest. I figured that I was just overwhelmed and overworked since I had three children under three years old, I worked, and I was going to school full time.
Then, about 6 months after I had my last daughter I was diagnosed with Vertigo, then Multiple Sclerosis, and then about 6 months after that I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer (only a year later I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer). It was time. It was time to really start taking care of myself. When someone has CFS they are much more susceptible to other infections and diseases because their immune system isn’t working quite right, it’s harder for their body to fight off anything else that is going on in
their there, and can open a door for other illnesses and diseases to anchor themselves to whatever they want.
I had decided to lose weight, to start eating healthier, and to give myself some ‘me’ time (whenever I could sneak into the bathroom or bedroom and not have small children chasing me and pounding at the door to get my attention). My ‘me’ time started to be later and later in the evening, leaving less time for sleep. But, I was working out more and I was eating healthier, so I was starting to feel a little better. I dropped a ton of weight in a few short months and I was extremely happy with the results I was seeing.
Since there is no cure for CFS, the doctors decided to put me on meds just to mask my symptoms. They put me on Antivert for my Vertigo. I think I may have taken two doses before I threw out the bottle. I can’t function on that medication, so I won’t take it. I’ll deal with the dizziness. Then, they sent me to a neurologist for the MS where they proceeded to drain 24cc’s of spinal fluid from my spine, and then immediately sent me home. I had a spinal migraine for at least a week – and those are no joke!! Then, they wanted to load me up on a boatload of meds for my MS. Thanks, but no thanks. If I can’t function, then I’m not taking it. They did give me one round of something-or-other for the cancer. That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
I continued working out regularly (as regularly as a mother of five can, but I got it in there sometimes), eating healthier (I haven’t had red meat in almost 8 years), taking my vitamins, and (trying) to be less-stressed (this one hasn’t faired too well). But, I made a commitment to myself to be a healthier person overall. More service and charity work. Stuff like that. Prayer had a lot to do with my recovery process, too.
I have since tested cancer-free and my MS symptoms are rare these days. But, the CFS stays on the forefront of everything I do. I know that when I have a ‘big’ day (i.e. an all-day meeting at work, or if I am moving or doing a large project at my house) I have to schedule at least one day of ‘down time’ where I don’t do anything but sleep and relax. If I don’t then I will be absolutely useless to anyone, including myself, the next day. I really have to listen to my body to make sure that I don’t overdo it with my activities. Some days I feel absolutely great, energetic, motivated to get everything done, motivated to stay an extra 30 minutes at the gym. Other days, and mostly with no apparent reason, I am just absolutely exhausted, unmotivated, and it takes everything I have to just get out of bed to start my day. For me, I have to keep a positive attitude and remember that everything I do from going to work to doing laundry is for my children. This really helps keep me going day to day.
Once I was diagnosed with all of these ailments I made a vow to myself that I would make the best possible life for my children, no matter what. That is why I get out of bed everyday and push myself through until the next ‘good’ day decides to come along.