Humans of ME/CFS
I got mononucleosis when I was a freshman in college in 2003. My body was never the same after that. I noticed I had significantly less strength and stamina. I also seemed to get what felt like the flu for weeks at a time every year. I still managed to graduate and go on to spend five years as a high school history teacher. In 2011, I was having a particularly stressful year. I had a very bad reaction to an antibiotic I took and that’s when things really fell apart with my health.
Suddenly, everything I was eating was going straight through me and I had unrelenting stomach pain. As I was going through all the testing with my gastroenterologist, I recall the “flu” hit me like a linebacker after a colonoscopy. I would use every ounce of strength to get up, get dressed, and go to work. After my first class ended and my planning began, the room would spin and I could barely lift my head off my desk. My mother was staying with me as I attempted to continue to work and try figure out what the heck was wrong with me. My mother left for a week to see my father after asking a neighbor to check on me. A day or two after she left, I could not get out of bed even to get to the bathroom with my continued stomach troubles. My school was attempting to contact me as I had not sent in a lesson plan. I crawled across the floor that morning to attempt to send in a plan.
By January 2012, I knew I was doing my students and coworkers a disservice by attempting to hold onto my job-my teaching job that meant the world to me. The students deserved a teacher that could actually make it to class. I moved in with my wonderful boyfriend as I could no longer live on my own. I was diagnosed with fibro/CFS in early 2012. I was relieved to put a name to the odd collection of mysterious symptoms I had experienced for the last ten years.
However, leaving my career and still being virtually bedridden presented a whole new set of challenges. The debilitating fatigue was now on par with the confusion one would experience with a complete loss of independence and identity. I did the dance of a million different doctors, specialists, and Eastern medicine. The only things that provided modest improvement were antiviral medications, antidepressants, and pacing myself; that, and being blessed with an amazing support system. Many times, I wanted to give up, but every time I did, a family member or a friend would show up at my door step. My father was one who came in one of my most desperate times. I have since married my husband and we have an incredibly happy, healthy 7 month old little girl. I am so grateful this disease is getting recognition it deserves.