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Personal Stories

Gloriaís Story

My experience with CFS began in September of 1994.  I developed a sore throat, fever, aches, and headaches, and I felt tired.  These symptoms lasted for about two weeks, then gradually cleared up.  Then about a month later I experienced the same symptoms again.  Every two to four weeks I would experience these same symptoms for about two weeks.  This pattern continued over the next three years, gradually increasing in severity and frequency.  When I was sick I would sleep up to 20 hours a day on my worst days.  I had numerous tests done -- all were negative.  I had rounds and rounds of antibiotics.  Sometimes I would get better after just a few days and sometimes I would be sick for weeks at a time.  Over the course of my three years with CFS I have progressively gotten sick more frequently and more intensely. 

The first six months of 1996 I missed 10 days of work, the second six months of 1996 I missed 25 days, and in the first four months of 1997 I missed 34 1/2 days.  When I was at work I was only functioning at about one-third of my normal capabilities.  Despite efforts to treat my symptoms, the illness was still hanging on.   In an effort to compensate for the time I was sick, I would push myself beyond my limits when I was well until I literally would ďcrash.Ē

I saw a physician assistant and an infectious disease specialist initially.  When no progress toward improvement was being made, I insisted that we look beyond the sore throat to see the bigger picture.  Thatís when I was diagnosed with CFS.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in March of 1997 after a period of extreme muscle pain.  I still experience the muscle pain, but not on a regular basis.  By far, my most profound symptoms are those associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Once I learned about these illnesses and accepted that I have them and it may not change, my life has improved.  I donít drain my energy reserves by focusing on trying to hide the fact that I have CFS/FMS or trying to deny I have them by doing things that are beyond my current capabilities.  This is what I am now and this is how I need to live to make the best of it.  I believe this is Godís way of telling me I need to do something else, that I need to use my talents in other ways.

CFS and FMS are life altering illnesses.  Iíve had to resign my position as Assistant Manager of the Medical Imaging Department.  I had worked at Rapid City Regional Hospital for 19 years, so it was like leaving my family.  Nothing in my life is as it was prior to becoming ill.  I used to be very active.  I enjoyed dancing, hiking, gardening, photography, reading, sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, calligraphy, roller skating, weight-lifting, camping, rock collecting, crafts, and attending plays and concerts -- besides being a workaholic.  I even had a woodworking business in addition to working full time.  Now I canít even read much because of the blurry vision, being too tired, and having difficulty concentrating and comprehending what Iíve read.  Any physical or mental exertion can totally drain me and send me to bed.

I sought disability benefits from both my private disability insurance company and Social Security.  Those who have gone through these processes understand the emotional and physical merry-go-round this brings.  I recently succeeded in this endeavor -- my claims were approved by both my private disability insurance company and Social Security.

Needless to say, my previous quality of life has greatly diminished.  It has been difficult to adjust to all these changes, but I try to be positive, maintain my sense of humor, and do what I can to promote education and awareness about CFS/FMS.  I try to focus on what I can do rather than what I canít do.  Coming from a health care background I thought I knew what compassion was, but Iíve never met a more compassionate group of people than those from our support group.  Unless you have CFS and/or Fibromyalgia or have witnessed them take their toll on someone close to you,  it is hard to fully understand the devastating affects of these illnesses.

A special thanks to those who have helped me through the rough times, especially my husband, Craig!

                        Gloria Zeitler

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