I am not a doctor and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. If you have any type of health issue, please see your doctor.
Is chronic fatigue syndrome real? Before I get into that, let me share a little about my medical history.
I suffer from chronic migraines with auras. My aunt and my father also experience migraines. On the first day of first grade, I had a migraine and threw up. The sinks in the classroom didn’t work so I had to go down to the office to let them know I needed to wash my hands. I didn’t mention that I threw up until the teacher came and told them. I have always dealt with my migraines like that. Yes, I have them and sometimes they can be bad, but if I only did things like go to work or school on the days I felt good, I would never get anything done.
I have tried just about every type of medication there is for migraines. Side effects are the main obstacle in feeling better. If a medication has a common side effect, I get it. This is why I am very hesitant to try new medication.
I have always kind of been stuck in this migraine cycle. A typical migraine for me starts out as fatigue and general irritability. Next comes the auras. Before, the aura would signal a bad migraine was coming, but now I see auras more often than I have actual migraine pain. The most common auras I see are a translucent circles that float across my vision. I also see splotches and bright lines. Sometimes, it even seems like there is a faint static across everything I’m looking at, like what you would see on an old television. I experience sensitivity to sound, smell, and touch. Oddly enough, light does not bother me that much. After a bad migraine, I experience a “hang-over” phase where I feel really good and calm. This would repeat every few weeks or so.
However, in January, I began feeling tired and in April it got worse. I was exhausted all the time and my joints ached. I had nausea a lot. I thought I possibly had Lyme since this area is one of the highest in the country for Lyme. I hadn’t been to a regular doctor in years, so I called one close to my house. They couldn’t get me until the following month and suggested that I go to an urgent care doctor for a Lyme test so I could begin treatment if sooner if the test was positive.
I visited with a wonderful doctor at the urgent care center and she told me my symptoms didn’t quite fit the box for the typical Lyme case and thought it sounded more autoimmune, so in addition to the Lyme test, she ran more blood work. The lyme test was negative and the blood work was all normal.
I went to see the other doctor who told me that all of my symptoms were unrelated and since my blood work was normal that it was all in my head. He wanted me to try Prozac. I tried it for two days, but I could not deal with the side effects. I called the urgent care center, but unfortunately the doctor I saw was not taking new patients, so I found a third doctor.
My first visit with the third doctor was at the end of June. By this time, my fatigue was the worst it had ever been. I would go to sleep exhausted and wake up even more exhausted. I was having crazy dreams every night. When I woke up, I was in a constant fog and it was affecting everything I did. This doctor repeated the blood work and it came back normal again. I had a slightly low level for vitamin D, so she started me on a supplement. That didn’t seem to affect anything so the next step she recommended was a sleep study. I will have my consultation with the sleep specialist on September 1st. In the meantime, the doctor gave me a tentative diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Since the diagnosis, I have been met with a lot of skepticism when I tell my friends or co-workers about it. “Is that even real?” “Just exercise, you’ll feel better.” “You’re just sleeping too much.” And on and on. Honestly, I don’t know how I feel about it either. I feel lazy, I feel exhausted, but I feel like there is something I should be doing about it. Is it all in my head? No, I don’t believe that, but I do believe that there has got to be a way out for me to start feeling better. I’ve tried supplements and yoga, but they offer little relief for my symptoms.
My hope is that the sleep study will give me the answers I am looking for.
Do you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or anything similar? What has helped you feel better?