Dec 22, 2006

How I Came To Have CFS or God, I'm Tired..

In May 1994 when I was 25 I travelled to Nepal. Whilst in the capital Kathmandu I ate a veggie burger late one afternoon. Years later I suspected that the salad leaves in the burger were washed in Giardia infected water. The next day I had diarrhea but after that I was OK.
I flew onto London a few days later and one morning I woke with painful stomach cramping. I went to a local doctor who analysed a stool sample but found nothing.
I continued on my travels in Europe and had no further ill effects, although I did gradually lose about 5-6kgs of excess weight.
On return to Australia in August 1994 I still felt OK. In November I ate a cheese and lettuce sandwich and had the first of my intermittent 'attacks' of foul smelling burps and vomiting.
Foolishly I didn't do anything. These attacks occurred approximately 4 times from November 1994 to July 1997. The worst ones would have me vomiting multiple times until I had nothing left to vomit and always they started with the foul burps. These 'attacks' only lasted one day maximum and they were very far apart.
By July 1997 I had lost more weight and was fairly skinny, I was cold, my digestion was poor and I had another 'attack' but this time it lasted a few days. An acquaintance told me about a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who had helped her, so off I went.
Stephen Byers of the Fitzroy Chinese Medical Centre was the doctor. He started me on a treatment to warm me up and get my energy moving again. My "digestive fire" or "triple burner" was virtually gone, so this was the starting point. I had acupuncture, the 'cups', the 'spoons' and herbal medicine.
I saw Dr Byers for the next 2 and half years, taking herbs before or after meals three times a day all the while. I also tried to eat only 'warming' foods (according to TCM). For one year I ate nothing but rice and curried vegetables.
By Jan 2000 I was feeling much better and was tired of the strict diet, so I stopped treatment. I was OK during the summer but upon the arrival of Autumn of 2000 I started feeling tired and so I resumed herbs from Dr Byers. I took the herbs until Spring and stopped again. I felt that I was cured.
It was around this time that I realised that although I was cured of the Giardia infection (no more 'attacks'), I would get very tired if I exerted my self or had a busy day. I also noticed that the relatively cold winter weather of Melbourne was difficult to get through. I really struggled from April to November; sensitivity to cold, poor digestion, stiff muscles, clicking joints all over my body, low energy, sleeping disturbances, sensitivity to noise, dry skin. lethargy and apathy.
Like many other CFS people I have never been diagnosed with CFS and I didn't even think I had it until one day I was on the internet and happened to come across a list of symptoms of CFS. I had about 15 of the 20 listed and that's when it dawned on me. That was around 2001 I think.
After being unemployed throughout this time (except for a 7hr Saturday job as a carpark attendant) I started full-time study in February 2001 for 1 semester. This didn't tax me too much so I continued studying full-time in February 2002 for one year. I got through that OK, although my mother died of cancer just after study finished for the year. I continued on studying full-time for another year but this time I struggled through winter and nearly quit, but soldiered on and finished.
I continued on studying in 2004 but by October I was feeling very drained and tired so I resumed TCM herbal treatment, this time at Victoria University Teaching Clinic. I have been getting regular herbal treatments from them since. Over December/January I stop the treatments as the hot weather makes me feel pretty good.
So that's my story.


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