Thursday, 23 September 2010

Rest or Treat?

The focus of this post is a dilemma I have been wrestling with for some time now.

To illustrate this dilemma I will begin by stating what I KNOW and what I DON'T KNOW.

I know that I am not well enough to live a 'normal' life. I know that a bunch of the everyday bodily functions we take for granted have become faulty within me. I know that I cannot seem to produce or restore energy for my body to use. That is pretty much all I know.

Then we get onto what I don't know. I don't know what exactly is wrong with me. I don't know how exactly to get better. I don't know what exactly is going on within my own body (at a micro level).

As this illustrates, I'm pretty much clueless still. Despite all my research and time spent considering different theories I am probably no closer to understanding my own lack of health. From the beginning I have wrestled with establishing the best approach to looking after myself and helping myself get better. I have no energy so I try to rest a lot. This seems sensible as surely my body is telling me that's what I need? On the other hand, I feel I should be doing something specific to help my recovery. The NHS is even more clueless than I am on this subject, it seems, so that's not an avenue of help for me. I research supplements and alternative treatment options and begin filling my body with various things that might help.

Which approach is correct? Rest and recuperate or actively treat the illness? This is where things get a little circular. Let's go back to something I DON'T KNOW..... I don't know exactly what is wrong with me.

This is the fundamental source of frustration for me and makes my recovery plan a bit like pissing in the wind. None of the explanations my medical advisors or the community were providing were satisfying my mind as they were vague and, in some cases, downright illogical.

For the purposes of having a label attached to my illness I say I have M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dig deeper into these terms however and it's a mess of contradictions and poor logic. 'Experts' no longer seem to be able to explain the difference between M.E. and CFS and patients have come to use the terms on an interchanging basis. The World Health Organisation classify M.E. as a neurological condition. The neurologist I saw pretty much said there was nothing wrong with me. M.E. in pure terms is an inflammation of the brain stem and/or spinal cord as far as I can tell.

Do I have M.E.? Is my spinal cord and/or brain stem inflamed and causing neurological problems? You'd think that'd be an easy question to answer but it seems not.

Then we have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Again, none of the 'expert' explanations were satisfying my mind. There is much talk about the viral link now and this has never seemed right to me. I'll state again for the sake of clarity that I am glad it is getting positive media attention but it seems to be missing the point as far as I can see. Chronic fatigue is, in my eyes, a symptom and nothing more. Any viral infection we might have, be it XMRV or anything else, is another symptom. This does not explain the root cause. Of course people with messed up immune systems are going to be susceptible to catching a virus. Of course people with messed up bodily functions are going to suffer fatigue. There is surely a bigger picture here that we are missing.

So, with all this in mind, what do I do? My approach thus far has been to mix rest with supplementation. I'm sure none of the supplements I am taking are doing me any harm but are they helping? Who knows. What I do know is that I am spending a considerable amount of money on them without knowing if they will help. I'm effectively housebound and am earning very little so spending money is limited.

All of this frustration and guessing doesn't sit well with me. I am the sort of person who needs clarity and definite answers. A clear path to follow. By chance, that path is becoming a little clearer now my research has taken me in a different direction. This post is already long enough so my next update will focus on what I now know and how I am going to use that knowledge to formulate a treatment plan for myself.

Take care,


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