Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia are very, very difficult for most sufferers, because the disease is incapacitating yet the symptom is primarily pain and fatigue. Doctors, friends and family often think it is faked, psychological and so on, leaving the patient ostracized and trying to make it through daily life on their own. In other words, there are two facts you should know about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and/or Fibromyalgia: 1) for the person involved it is probably the most real and horrible physical experience of their life and 2) for everyone else it seems entirely imaginary.
There is no fever, no tumor, no negative blood work - for the most part it is simply the the patient's descriptions and feelings. Family and friends simply do not understand and usually have relatively little sympathy. One is left truly alone to literally limp along through life, just surviving day-to-day. And, unfortunately, in the these situations you find that your doctor is often the least helpful person. Often doctors just do not know what to do with you. There really is no set medical protocol for either diagnosis or treatment.
NEWS FLASH: What is very interesting is that Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia could be viral. Researchers just found that the XMRV retrovirus - retroviruses cause Aids for example - showed up in 67 percent of chronic fatigue patients but only but only about 4 percent of healthy subjects. This retrovirus is not a close relative of the AIDs virus by the way, but researchers are going to test to see if some of the medications that work for HIV will also help with XMRV. However, a UK study just a few months later found no evidence of the virus in CFS patients, so this may have been a anomaly.
So what are some of the hallmark symptoms? Well, let me explain how I felt about four to five years ago:
1) Constant Muscle and/or Joint Pain. Everything hurt. I consider myself to have a rather high pain threshold, but this was truly miserable. I can only describe it as aching in a way similar to having a fever with the only difference being that it never goes away. Day after day, month after month, the pain persists.
2) Extreme Fatigue. I have always been a "hyper" person - a constant fidgeter and full of energy. But, during this time of my life, I could barely stay awake. If you've driven late at night on the open highway and experienced "white line fever", then you know the feeling that I'm talking about. It's endless, agonizing fatigue that lasts most of the day, every day.
3) Mental Fog. The only way I can describe this is to say that it is as if someone drugged you half way, leaving you to where you are walking around with tunnel vision, barely able to focus or concentrate. You just wait for the drug to wear off, but it never does. I marvel that I was able to do as well as I did at my job considering how I felt.
For classic chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia, there is no cure-all.
One personal story that I want to point out is that there are other things that can cause similar symptoms and I had almost every one of them at certain point in my life. Again, if your symptoms are caused by a retrovirus, then my example will probably not help you. However, for some of the rest of you I want to share how I conquered similar symptoms in my own life. (I have none of the above symptoms now.)
What made the difference? I believe there were four factors that caused my problems and I steadily improved as I was able to address each one:
1) Stress. This was easily the most stressful time of my life: I had a new job, a young child and a dissolving relationship. (Read about How Stress is Deadly.)
2) Poor Sleep. I slept but often with very poor quality, probably due to #1. You can read more about how Lack of Sleep Will Kill You if this applies to you.
3) Diet Coke or Aspartame. I drank a lot of Diet Coke. I was trying to overcome the fatigue with a little caffeine from a supposedly healthy "diet" drink. Little did I know that aspartame, the principal sweetener in Diet Coke, breaks into the Excitotoxin aspartic acid when digested.
4) Low Testosterone. My readings were, . My readings were, unfortunately, low but not quite low enough to be hypogonadal. However, as I point out in my link on the Symptoms of Low Testosterone, most guys get nasty symptoms long before they actually cross the hypogonadal barrier.
If you've read my site much, you recognize just how scary these four conditions are when put together: they create one vicious physiological circle after another, each reinforcing and amplifying the other three in most cases.
For example, stress and poor sleep lead to lower testosterone and low testosterone can create anxiety and a mental fog, which in turn can create additional stress and poor sleep, which in turn can whack immunity, which can lower zinc levels, which...Well, you get the idea!
But this is my primary point: if I defeated this three-headed monster, I believe that you can as well. The body has remarkable recuperative powers and I encourage you to keep trying. It took me several years to find out the root problems and tackle them one by one. You need to slowly investigate every one of them and look into things that can contribute such as food allergies, low grade infections, nutritional deficiences and a sedentary lifestyle.
Don't give up! You can get there...