Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Living with CFS

I get sick easier, now.  It's been that way since the early part of 2015.  If there's a virus that hits one of my family members, it'll hit me, too, and harder. 

Like now.  Odysseus thought he'd gotten a lung full of dust, and thought he was dealing with an allergy attack.  Yeah, no.  It was a virus.  Yes, I have it.  Yes, it hit me harder.  Yes, I'm still down with it. 

Even when I'm not sick, I constantly feel like I'm either coming down with something or getting over something: body aches, I have NO endurance (and attempts to build endurance backfire, and leave me actually sick), and I have to sleep more than most people do.  And that doesn't consider the brain fog that doesn't end, and only ebbs and surges. 

On good days, I can do a few things: sometimes, I can almost keep up with standard housework, like dishes, and some shopping.  I can't do heavier housework--I can't vacuum floors, can't do a lot of laundry beyond loading and running the washer.  Wet clothes are too heavy to mess with, for the most part.  Cleaning the kitty litter kinda depends on how many other things I've done.  

So, right now, I'm down with something that hit me in the lungs (again), and am trying to pack when I can, and move a few things when I can. 

I've been doing research into more than "What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?" or "What causes CFS?"  I've been looking into the mechanics of how it causes symptoms.  Turns out, there's little known, but there's a tentative theory out there (not many are studying this, but the ones that are have been able to replicate results) that the actual symptoms are caused by mild, moderate, or severe damage to the mitochondria--the power plants of the individual cells in the body--depending on the severity of the case of CFS.  There are some that are totally bedridden, some that are bedridden sometimes, and some that are bedridden only occasionally (after overdoing it). 

Honestly, there's not a whole lot I can do other than wait this out.  There's little to no research being done.  Often, doctors (and others) consider those of us with these weird, diffuse symptoms to be hypochondriacs.*  We're offered cognitive behavoral therapy, antidepressants, and told to exercise, increasing the amounts by a little every session. 

For those who are hypochondriacs, this works. 

For those of us who actually have something wrong, this is the opposite of helpful: energy levels are finite, and once they're gone, if you keep pushing, you wind up bedridden for a few days, even if you manage to avoid coming down with something nasty while your immune system is further compromised (this is personal experience speaking).  And antidepressants have side effects that exacerbate the symptoms, pushing recovery from "unlikely any time soon" to "impossible." 

There are a few things that I, and anyone else suffering from this, can do: we can ignore doctors' nutritional advice to avoid red meat and coffee,** and we can sit down when energy starts to flag.  We can take anti-inflammatories*** to deal with the chronic, systemic inflammation that accompanies CFS. 

And we can wait it out.  Your body rebuilds every cell in it, eventually (I think every seven years is what I remember reading).  Remember: This, too, shall pass. 

*I'd be happiest if I could go back to seeing my doctor no more than once a year.  

**Red meat contains more nutrients that your body needs to rebuild cells--and one in particular useful for rebuilding mitochondria--and black coffee offers extra energies that help the damaged mitochondria function better. Adding sugar makes it harder for your body to process the things it needs to take from the coffee.

***Some of us can.  Tirosint's drug info insert warned that it can interfere with the metabolism of the artificial thyroid hormone from T4 into T3. 


  1. FWIW, if it is caused by mitochondrial damage, there are some supplements that are supposed to be helpful. No, I don't know of any right off hand, but I'm sure you can find them. I think glutathione (antioxidant) might be one.

    Personally, I've had very limited success with supplements in general and think most are overrated placebos. It might be worth a try, though, if "professional medicine" isn't doing anything for you.

    1. It's why I'm sticking with red meat, bacon, eggs, coffee, and tumeric (instead of NSAIDs).

  2. Hope things turn around sooner than 7 years... Gah... But sounds like you're dealing as well as one can.


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