Posted by: alittlesipoflemmonade | May 20, 2012

My Ongoing Battle With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Some of you know, but for those of you who do not, I am one of the estimated 1 million Americans who battle Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Here is a link to the disease’s article on the CDC website:

In summary, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is characterized by sever fatigue that does not get better with rest, lasts for several months, and can not be explained by any other illness.  There are a number of secondary symptoms which are almost worse than the fatigue. They include concentration and short-term memory impairments, severe pain, swollen lymph notes, and a sore throat.

Unfortunately, there is not a clear-cut cause for CFS.  Consequently, there is also no reliable cure or guaranteed treatment.  The best that most doctors can do for patients is to manage their symptoms until the cycle passes.  For me, it seems that I developed this disease after suffering from a mystery bug, probably an unusual strain of Epstein-Barr, while in high school.

Clinical definitions aside, I HATE THIS DISEASE!  I am so tired of being tired.  It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get.  There are days when no pain medication can make a dent in the wrenching, breath-catching, pain.  No matter how earnestly I study, I can’t seem to retain new information anymore.  Then there are the times when I can remember, but can’t hope to communicate it back to the instructor.

It seems to some of my professors that I am not smart enough to major in math, that I should rethink my career choice, or that I am a bad student with no dedication to their classes.  How can I make them understand that I am smart enough for math?  How can I make them understand that I am doing the best that I can every single day?  I do I explain that I fall asleep in class, because I’m ill, and not because I was up partying the night before.  How can I even conceive of another career when so many of my thoughts revolve around mathematical instruction?  I have finally found my niche in the world, a talent at which I am more than average, and it is in danger or destruction, because of this stupid disease!

I hate that this disease makes being active almost impossible.  I want to exercise, but now it’s so exhausting just going up and down the stairs!  Taking a shower, loading the dishwasher, walking from my car to my classroom — all of these simple tasks now cause extreme fatigue and even pain.  So being a good partner, contributing to the household chores, and caring for my dogs are now monumental tasks with absurdly high risks.  It is demoralizing and humiliating.

I apologize for this rant.  There are others who suffer from far greater illnesses that CFS.  I know that it is a blessing my diagnosis is not Lupus, MS, or some sort of degenerative disease.  Theoretically, if I am patient, this cycle will pass, and I’ll get back to normal.  I might even be able to go years without experiencing a fatigue cycle.  In fact, before this one, it had been 3 1/2 years since my last period of extreme fatigue.   On the other hand, what is the point of a blog if you can’t rant once in a while?

This cycle has come on fairly quickly, over the course of only a couple of months.  It seems that the decline of my health is beginning to level out, though.  So I fervently hope that this is the bottom of the valley.  With only three weeks left in the school year and a whole summer before me, I will do everything in my power to foster my body back into health.  With vitamins, rest, daily yoga, and maybe even a little acupuncture I may yet greet the Fall term in full fighting form and ready to prove that not only am I smart enough to major in math, I am an asset to math education that any school would be lucky to have.




  1. Becky,
    I’m really sorry that you have to experience the pain and fatigue that cfs brings. I can truly empathize with how frustrating and debilitating it can be. Just hold on a few more weeks and you’ll have survived one more term. Maybe yoga will help (and swimming might be good also – I know it is one of the few things that is low impact enough to help me without hurting, as long as I don’t overdo). Best of luck and lots of love. Please let me know if there is anything I can ever do to help! ❤

  2. That sounds hellish! I’m glad you ranted because I knew you struggled with something but didn’t know what. I think it’s amazing that you keep going as much as you do with CFS – I can’t imagine a more frustrating thing to suffer from. I feel like life’s unfair even when I’m unreasonably tired for one day, and that usually just means I need to exercise more. Still, no one around you could ever think you were lazy or didn’t care! You don’t come off like that at all. I hope this cycle ends soon so you can prove it to the rest of the world.

  3. Thanks, guys. 🙂

    Anna — My psychiatrist at SHS is big on Eastern Medicine and is really pushing the Yoga, so I’m trying to make it more regular, but I’m totally up for trying swimming. Maybe lets go together soon?

    Valerie — It’s such a relief to know that my friends don’t think I’m just loafing around eating bon-bons all day, especially all the SuperWomen of SDO. It’s a tough crowd to live up to sometimes! 🙂

    • Yoga is amazing! Where are you practicing? I’d love to join you (as long as it’s not super early in the morning – therapy in the morning makes mornings less doable)! I’d love to go swimming with you though – I haven’t gone in a ridiculously long time. Maybe we can talk more about this tomorrow? 🙂

  4. […] My Ongoing Battle With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ( […]

  5. I was told I had this about 6 months ago. I dont know what to do about it my doctors no help all I want to do is sleep and my family dont understand because my house ,car everthing going down hill because Im the one that never set down to watch tv or a movie or sleep just a little i was on the go all the time everthing had to be so so now i feel lost all by my self Im tried of been tried I want my life back!!!!!!

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