Imagine the times when you come home exhausted and need to sleep for the next ten hours. Then imagine feeling like that constantly. If you can manage to do that then you have some insight into what it feels like to have chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). For people with CFS, it’s not just the feeling of being constantly tired. They experience persistent muscle and joint pain; headaches and sore throats; you struggle to concentrate and focus; and you are hypersensitive to external factors like light, sound and being touched – even by accident.
It’s bad enough having to live every day feeling like you’ve been in a collision. To make things worse, most people misunderstand the illness and even doctors are incapable of recognising and treating the symptoms. People with chronic fatigue syndrome usually cope as well as they can and keep their illness to themselves rather than try to explain it and to be told that a good night’s sleep would be the best and only remedy.
The frustration of being misunderstood and patronised by glib comments and misinformation is incredibly frustrating for people with CFS. To be at the end of your tether with a chronic and debilitating illness, only to be told that ‘we all get rundown from time to time’, is enough to bring a sufferer of CFS to tears.
CFS is more than being tired. It is the feeling that your energy has been sucked out of you and there is no likelihood that it will be replenished. It is waking up in the morning and feeling like you’ve done a full day of manual labour and just got home. It is the aches and pains attributable to flu symptoms but you can’t treat it because it’s not the flu and not even rest will provide you with a reprieve that is enough for the symptoms to pass. If that’s not enough, you usually have to live with the condition for six months to be diagnosed as having CFS. Within that time you might have been given any number of treatments and none of them have helped.
These can include remedies for: Flus, viruses and other chronic infections ; sleep apnea or other sleep related disorders; cognitive functioning and maybe even auto-immune diseases like multiple sclerosis.
It’s easy to fall onto the treadmill of doctor after doctor and false diagnosis after false diagnosis. A great starting point is to find a doctor who can understand the illness and come up with a strategy to treat the symptoms. That immediately eliminates the feelings of isolation that come from being misunderstood and doubted.
A doctor who understands CFS will tell you straight up that there is no conclusive test for CFS and that blood tests are usually inconclusive.
Dr Peter Dobie is one of Sydney’s best known doctors specialising in chronic fatigue syndrome. His chronic fatigue clinic in Sydney applies different treatments to each patient. Dr Dobie focuses on individualised support because the multitude symptoms that sufferers of CFS may have in common are either, not all present in each individual or present to varying degrees. He bases the treatment program on what he considers to be the main underlying causes of the patient’s illness.
If you have CFS or if you have chronic symptoms and you cannot find any relief, contact Dr Peter Dobie for an appointment. His approach may give you hope and relief.