This is how it starts. You just had your morning coffee and nevertheless feel like going straight back to bed. You don’t find the car keys, arrive late at work, need a lunch break lasting for hours, mess up your desk and finally back home fall asleep after ten minutes in front of the TV. And not just for one day – it goes on, it gets worse and finally you feel like you never want to get up again.
In the beginning you think it could just be a bad period or a fit of midlife crisis, then it gets scary and finally it’s hell: you lose your job, lose your friends, lose your family and your life is in shambles.
You don’t know. You went to several doctors; they never found anything.
Possibly you suffer from Fatigue syndrome – the condition where the doctor never finds anything.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is estimated at an incidence of four per thousand among US adults. And it is characterized by the absolute absence of measurable, provable clinical findings – no lab and no radiology will show any abnormal results.
The doctor says I am ok…
Sure he does. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is one of the most elusive conditions one can possibly suffer from. It is so elusive that it was only in recent years acknowledged by big medical organizations as a possibly debilitating illness. It is so elusive that there still are specialists who doubt that it even exists. It is so elusive that the diagnosis finally will be based on exclusion – when the doctors checked virtually everything and found nothing, but you are still tired, cannot concentrate and find no relieve neither by rest nor by sleep, than they possibly will conclude it is CFS.
But until then it is a long way to go and a costly one at that, if you don’t have full insurance cover. So many cases of Chronic fatigue Syndrome will eventually go undetected, and the victims likewise be stigmatized for life as lazybones: full resolution of the condition is reported in not more than 10% of the clinically diagnosed cases.
Being elusive on one hand but debilitating and almost incurable on the other, many experts today even demand a renaming, claiming that “Fatigue Syndrome” just sounds too vague and too harmless a name for a condition that clearly threatens a person’s very existence: benign myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome, chronic infectious mononucleosis, epidemic myalgic encephalomyelitis, epidemic neuromyasthenia, myalgic encephalomyelitis, myalgic encephalitis, myalgic encephalopathy, post-viral fatigue syndrome and raphe nucleus encephalopathy are just some of the recently suggested names for CFS.
To make things eve more complicated, it seems that a number of other conditions are frequently connected to or overlapping with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In such cases Chronic fatigue Syndrome can only be diagnosed after the other conditions have been established and treated or mysteriously resisted the standard treatment procedures.
These include thyroid disorders, anemia, diabetes, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, Gulf War syndrome and post-polio syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and temporomandibular joint pain and chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
So this is quite a number of conditions to be either diagnostically excluded or treated in the first place.
There also exists an overlapping with severe depression. But until now it could not be established whether depression was an underlying cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or just a consequence of suffering from a chronic illness. As a matter of fact people suffering from any chronic illness will show a much higher tendency to develop a severe depression than healthy persons.
Social stigma and other implications
In the US 24% of the adult population were found to have at least once had fatigue lasting 2 weeks or more; about 50% of these persons were convinced that their fatigue had no medical cause. In another study, 24% of the respondents complained about at least one episode of prolonged fatigue (>1 month). If such a fatigue persists beyond 6 months it is defined as Chronic Fatigue.
A British study shows that 77% of the 240,000 people in the UK with CFS have lost their jobs. 25% are house or bed bound, 38% lost their ability to drive a vehicle, 39% complained about a permanent reduction in employment opportunities and 77% reported that their social contacts decreased significantly under CFS.
Given such figures, it is quite surprising that some people seriously wanted to rename Chronic fatigue Syndrome into “yuppie flu” and other discriminating names, several “scientific” publishers in fact went as far as to describe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a new kind of hysteria that got fashionable in the 90’s.
So be prepared: you most likely will find that the world does not welcome you in your new state.