The Frogman

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Explained

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has kind of a stigma in the medical community. It typically affects more women than men. Back in the 70’s when a lot of these cases started popping up, doctors of the time coined the phrase “bored housewife syndrome.” They discounted the condition as being all in their heads. Because of this, to this day, older doctors still maintain this belief. This is also the reason that until recently no major research has been done on the condition. Luckily with a new generation of doctors and millions of cases of the condition, this attitude has begun to change. The leading theories right now are that an underlying infection catalyzes the condition. So they think they know the trigger, but the actual illness is still quite a mystery.

As for how it makes me feel. That’s something I’ve tried to figure out how to relate to people for quite some time. Best I’ve come up with is this. Imagine staying up way too late one night and having to get up early the next day. Now think about that initial feeling you get right as you wake up to the alarm. Pause that feeling in your mind. That is similar to how I feel most of the time. Now of course, your body adapts and you learn how to function somewhat. But another component to CFS is what I call the “energy allowance.” For each day you get only a certain amount of usable energy. You have to be careful how you spend it. You must try to conserve your energy in any way possible so you don’t run out. That is why I stay housebound. Traveling even small distances is very expensive in energy. If you don’t include doctor’s visits, I have pretty much been stuck in this house for the last 5 years. Being vertical uses more energy than horizontal. Apparently blood flowing vertically is more taxing on the body. So…I try to lay down as much as humanly possible. I have my computer setup with a wireless keyboard and mouse and the video gets piped into my plasma TV. So almost all the work I do for my blog, I do laying in bed.

Now that covers the physical energy aspect of chronic fatigue. Next comes the mental energy. Concentration is often a problem. If I focus too long on a brain intensive task, it can wear me out quite quickly. When that happens I get what they call “brain fog.” This makes it very hard to focus on anything. If I try to speak, I will stop in the middle of sentences, unable to finish them. If people are talking to me, I will often have to ask them to repeat things as they did not register. Very annoying indeed.

So I stick to my energy allowance. I try my best not to spend it all physically and mentally. I save as much energy as I can and live my life the best I can. If I do go over on my energy allowance, I get these sort of energy hangovers. A feeling of complete misery that is hard to describe. They sometimes take days to recover from and I am essentially useless to do anything.

And that is my life. Not very cheery, but I have a lot of support from my parents. They are amazing and take care of me. I have great online friends and great friends in real life. And I have my blog which allows me to express my creative self and entertain people. And giving people joy is like crack to me. It’s all I ever wanted to do and I’m grateful I have an outlet for it in my situation. It keeps me going.

That’s about the best I can explain it. Feel free to ask any questions about it. I don’t mind at all. The word needs to be spread that this is a real condition. One that devastates the lives of millions. So I am always open to talking about it with whomever will listen.

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