You just can’t seem to get enough sleep, no matter how early you go to bed each night. In the morning you wake up feeling the exact same way, just as exhausted as when your head hit the pillow the night before. And, you realize this horrible, dragging, tired feeling has been going on for months now.
You’re trying to do all the things you know you should, you’ve cleaned up your diet, no more heading to the drive-thru to pick up junk food. You’re eating fish and vegetables and all that green stuff you don’t really like, but you know it’s good for you so you’ve added a lot more vegetables to your meals. Even devouring all those punnets of expensive superfood blueberries hasn’t made you feel any better.
Working out more at the gym and including a weekly swim hasn’t helped either. Instead of feeling energized afterward, you feel even more exhausted, you can hardly drag yourself out of the pool at the end of your swim. And the after-effects of normal exercise, that annoying muscle pain, seems to be sticking around constantly, now that’s just weird!
Colleagues have started to notice your lapses in memory and how you just can’t seem to get those reports done on time. You are normally so efficient, it’s becoming a bit embarrassing, but you just can’t seem to get your thoughts focused enough to concentrate on your work. How many more ‘my dog ate my homework’ type excuses can you get away with?
As you start thinking maybe there’s something seriously wrong with your health, it’s time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. You can’t keep dragging through each day with barely enough energy to function like a normal human being. Maybe there’s something serious going on with your health, you better get a check-up. So you make an appointment and go to see your local doctor.
Your doc runs a bunch of tests, but one after another they keep coming up clear. While it’s a relief to know you don’t seem to have anything bad going on with your health, you’re still feeling exhausted and dragging yourself to work each day.
The doctor says, ‘well, it seems like you may have had a virus, and now you have to post-viral fatigue. And, he suggests you go home, take it easy and let your system recover, you’ll be fine in time. A virus….. what? You don’t remember having a virus, flu, or any bug in the last few months.
Another couple of months go by and not only are you not getting better but you feel even worse. The feelings of fatigue are getting worse and you’ve had to take some time off work as you can barely get out of bed in the morning, Strong coffee has become your best friend and it’s impossible to function without it.
You make another appointment with your doctor and this is when he mentions this serious-sounding illness called ‘Myalgic Encephalomyelitis’ and asks if you have ever heard of it? He then explains it has another name….’Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Aaah, the penny drops, this name definitely describes how you’ve been feeling. Good, now you know what’s going on your doc can write your prescription, and be out of his office in a flash, off to the pharmacy to get your script and you’ll start getting feeling in no time. Thank goodness it’s nothing serious.
However, then your doc explains there is no prescription he can give you that will cure this illness, but he can write a script for some pain relief. What? Well OK, you’ll go to see whatever specialist you need who can get you better. Your doctor then advises there are no specialists who treat chronic fatigue syndrome.
You go home and collapse into bed, not only completely exhausted but feeling like there’s no hope of ever getting better. How on earth did you get this chronic fatigue syndrome thing? None of this makes any sense, you can’t be expected to live like this.
Being no longer able to exercise you are piling on weight. And it’s becoming very difficult trying to hold on to your full-time job as you have used up all your sick days. Going to work every day is seeming impossible, maybe you need to move to part-time work.
It seems like your health is deteriorating slowly day by day and your symptoms keep increasing and the feeling of walking through wet cement every single day isn’t going away.
You spend a lot of time hoping to find a doctor who can treat this annoying chronic fatigue syndrome thing. You start asking around your group of friends and searching online, but keep drawing a blank. This is so hard to accept, there must be some doctor out there who can help you recover.
Off you go to another local doctor for a second opinion. Your friend recommends him and assures you is very reliable. Maybe that first doctor was a dud, there must be someone who can help you.
Does this new doctor ask if you’re depressed, he can give you a prescription for antidepressants? You think, well wouldn’t you be depressed if you had to spend most of the day in bed, because you can’t summon enough energy to do anything else?
You refuse the antidepressant prescription and make your way back home in disbelief that this second doctor can’t help you either. There must be a doctor out there somewhere who can help you with this illness, you can’t be expected to keep living like this, dragging your backside through each day, getting worse and worse.
The bottom line is that there is no ‘cure’ available from standard medicine for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Any treatment your doctor can give you is limited to symptom reduction with medications like antidepressants, anti-anxiety medication, painkillers, and sleeping pills.
If you want to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome you are going to have to take the responsibility for getting better into your own hands and become your own health advocate.
You may think that alternative health practitioners such as naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners carry out some type of weird mumbo jumbo herbal hocus pocus. And, of course, as in any profession, there are good ones and bad ones.
However, I recovered from 8 years of chronic fatigue syndrome with the help of a skilled naturopath experienced in treating chronic fatigue syndrome patients with all levels of this debilitating illness.
I hope you were paying attention to that last sentence, the clue to getting better is there. You need to find a naturopath experienced in treating chronic fatigue syndrome.
Think of it as finding a ‘specialist’ in standard medicine. You need to find, not just any naturopath, but one who knows about and has experience treating chronic fatigue syndrome patients.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated multifactorial illness, there is no one thing that causes it. Your naturopath will look at your body and illness from a holistic viewpoint and search for the root cause of why you became ill in the first place.
This search to put all the jigsaw puzzle pieces together will take time. A thorough medical history will be taken as a first step, and just like when you visit a standard doc, your naturopath will run tests, from blood, saliva, poop, or urine to determine what is the cause of your particular and individual form of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Once the cause(s) of your illness are uncovered treatment will follow with herbs, homeopathic and nutritional supplements. You may also be ‘prescribed’ some acupuncture, massage, or other alternative therapies to help you with symptom relief and complement your recovery.
Accept that your local doctor can diagnose your chronic fatigue syndrome, however, he will not be able to offer you a cure. Be your own health advocate and seek out the help you need from alternative medicine. It’s important to get help from a naturopath/ functional medicine practitioner experienced in treating chronic fatigue syndrome patients.
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