The Fibromyalgia/ Chronic Fatigue syndrome guy

This particular specialisation is a personal one. When I was about four years old my family was exposed to chemical poisoning which nearly killed my baby brother and left my whole family with ongoing health problems. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is the main problem that has persisted with my family to this day.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are both rather a controversial diagnoses. Anyone suffering from one or both of them will know that:

  • Recovery varies a lot from person to person
  • They are poorly understood
  • They never go away quickly
  • The research behind them is very sparse
  • It is often linked to depression
  • Not everyone believes that you are truly sick!

Firstly we need to understand that a “syndrome” is simply a conglomeration of different symptoms that we assume are all related, it’s not a full diagnoses. Symptoms like muscle aches, constant fatigue, sleep disturbance and nausea all overlap with many other conditions. It is when these common symptoms persist for no apparent reason that we diagnose people with CFS.

I often marvel that the symptoms of CFS are also felt by patients recovering from a spinal cord injury. Could this mean that there is a neurological component to CFS? CFS is also known as neurasthenia which is Latin for nerve weakness.

I suspect that one day we will have stopped using the term CFS and will have broken it down into more specific diagnoses such as forms of chemical poisoning, autoimmune disorders, viral infection and neurological dysfunction.

Philosophy of treating CFS and Fibromyalgia

Many people with CFS long for a diagnoses that never seems to come. Some fancy disease with a fancy name that can be cured with a single pill. But what if it’s not that straight forward? What if CFS and Fibromyalgia are the mixed symptoms of numerous smaller things going wrong in different systems? It would certainly explain why no two cases of CFS ever seem alike.

A lecturer (whom I have a lot of respect for) once told me to view chronic medical conditions like untying a knot. You don’t start trying to untie the knot at its central, tightest point. Rather, you start with the outer parts of the knot where things seem a little healthier and simpler. As you work your way in then the central part of the knot becomes a little clearer.