In February 1988, I came down with what felt like a bad case of the flu. It was like my mono attack from two years previous. Only this time it did not go away. Within 15 months, I had to quit college. For the next four years, I was essentially bed-ridden.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve made dramatic progress with my CFS. I credit my three years of daily Alexander Technique teacher training and the great products prescribed to me at the Dragon Herbs store.
I know of many people with CFS who’ve been helped by regular Alexander lessons.
What exactly is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?*
Sometimes referred to as ME or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, it is a term that describes a chronic, debilitating disorder that affects the immune and central nervous system. Typical symptoms are a profound fatigue, totally out of proportion to physical activity and independent of mood, plus a range of other symptoms that can affect any organ of the body.
Causes and symtoms
The causes of CFS are unknown. There appear to be any number of apparent causes and in many cases the onset seems to be linked to a stress to the immune system such as an acute infection, especially viral in nature. After the stress or virus has run its course the symptoms do not abate as usual but become chronic and are often associated with profound fatigue and feelings of being generally unwell.
The Chronic Fatigue Society of NSW states that the symptoms of CFS are a prolonged and disabling feeling of exhaustion lasting at least six months. The symptoms are often made worse by any activity and are often unrelieved by sleep. Symptoms vary between people but may include persistent and profound fatigue, exhaustion, flu-like symptoms including a sore throat, fever and sore lymph glands, muscle and joint aches, pains and weakness, headaches, nausea, balance disturbances, dizziness, vision problems and sensitivity to light and noise, sensitivity to foods and common chemicals, thoracic symptoms including palpitations and breathing difficulties and sleeping problems including insomnia and an excessive desire to sleep. Cognitive dysfunction and poor temperature control can be also added to the long list of symptoms.
A simlar related condition is known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) which has substantial symptom overlap with chronic fatigue syndrome. The Fibromyalgia Network* describes FMS as a “widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons – the soft fibrous tissues in the body. Most patients with FMS say that they ache all over. Their muscles may feel like they have been pulled or overworked. Sometimes the muscles twitch and at other times they burn. More women than men are afflicted with FMS, and it shows up in people of all ages”.
Western medical science has no specific diagnostic test at the moment for either condition. As a result diagnosis must be made by excluding other illnesses. This can be a long, difficult and costly process. Many CFS symptoms overlap with those of a number of other illnesses including multiple sclerosis. Nor are the symptom of chronic fatigue confined to CFS.
Just about anyone can get CFS however it seems that it is most common among 20 to 40 year olds and women outnumber men. Symptoms can last from a few months to years. Some people make a gradual recovery, some never fully recover and others become progressively worse.