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
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.
thanks to those who have helped me through the rough times, especially my
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