Humans of ME/CFS
I had just finished up my second to last semester of college for my bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture. I noticed that I had a sore throat, but didn’t think much of it. I thought that maybe I was just getting a little cold. I had been working part-time as an office aid and had just finished up my finals. Over the next week, the sore throat went away. A couple of days before Christmas, I was taken to the ER with severe abdominal pain. It was determined that I had gastroenteritis and was sent home with some medication. I made an appointment with my doctor a few days later and found out I had had strep throat. I got a big shot and was sent home to recover.
Over the Christmas holiday, I noticed little improvement. I constantly felt like I had the flu. Just after the New Year, I went back to my doctor. At this time, I had started my last semester of college. I am stubborn and had been attempting to attend my classes while feeling so sick. I kept thinking, “I can’t quit, I only have one semester left, I’ll get better!” I got the call from the doctor letting me know I had a bad case of Mono/Epstein bar virus. One of the hardest decisions of my life was to decide to quit college right before graduating, but I came to the conclusion that my health was more important. My spleen was swollen and I needed rest. So I quit. I seriously slept for what seemed like months! Although being cooped up in a tiny apartment didn’t help.
I felt like I was getting over the worst part of mono and I was able to do a very tiny amount of normal daily life, but from there I felt like I had just stopped progressing. I was nowhere near back to my pre-mono self. No matter how much I slept, I still felt exhausted. I went back to the doctor and I heard the words “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” for the first time in my life. There wasn’t much he could do for me, except the normal “rest and drink fluids.” Months went by, I was beyond frustrated. I had been doing tons of research and had been to several holistic doctors, but nothing had helped. Late one night, somehow, I finally came across a ME/CFS specialist close to my area. I was put on an extremely long waiting list and luckily I got in within the year. It was there that I got my official ME/CFS diagnosis.
It has been 6 years since I first got sick. My life has changed dramatically. Most days it feels hopeless, but I just keep attempting to live as much of a normal life as possible. It took me another 3 semesters to finish college. I had to take it very slowly, but I did it!