CFS is NOT caused by a virus!

I don’t usually post twice in one day, but I was online and read an article about chronic fatigue syndrome that I found particularly disturbing. Apparently some genius wrote an article in Science magazine linking the retrovirus knows as XMRV to CFS.   What does this mean?  Well, on the surface CFS sufferers might start to think that treatment is on the way now that they’ve located the cause.

Not so fast CFS sufferers.  Think about it.  First, the media gets everyone excited about something like this.  Then, the drug companies jump on board because of course, they have your best interest at heart and want to help (translation:  they want to develop a way to take your money).  How long do you think it’ll take before one of them comes up with a vaccine for CFS?  Doctors also benefit in that they no longer have to admit that they have no clue about what causes CFS much less how to treat it.

There are countless stories out there about people that have had CFS for a very short period of time because they took charge of their health and made the necessary lifestyle changes.  If you’re a CFS sufferer you might want to research these types of stories and not fall prey to some harmful vaccine or drug that’s sure to be coming down the pipe.

You can read this story for more information:

Remember, you can’t be brainwashed if you’re well informed.


Labeling Gone Bad – When Not To Accept a Diagnosis

Imagine this scenario: A man goes to the doctor because he’s having chest pain. After a brief examination, the doctor proclaims, “You’ve got Chest Pain Syndrome. Just take some aspirin and you’ll feel better. Problem solved!”

What’s your gut reaction to this scenario? Does it make you cringe? Do you think the symptom diagnosis and treatment are acceptable? If you were the patient, would you stop off for aspirin at the 7-11 and call it a day? What if the patient were your spouse, parent, or child?

Obviously, this scenario is unacceptable on many levels:

1. A symptom is not an illness. Symptoms are clues your body sends to signal an illness or problem.

2. Simply treating a symptom will not make the problem go away.

If you thought the medical diagnosis and treatment plan of our chest pain patient was outlandish, you’d be surprised to learn that this scenario is actually more common than you think – especially for those with undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or chronic illnesses.

I was reminded of this phenomenon when I stumbled across a blog posting from a lady who was recently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After receiving the diagnosis of CFS, the poster stated that she would have to “learn to accept” her illness, and expressed relief about “coming to terms” with her medical diagnosis.

While I understand that labeling the illness brought peace for the poster and relieved her of the burden of continuing to search for an answer, I found her willingness to accept the label troubling. After reading the blog, my first reaction was to call the poster (of course, I couldn’t) and say, “Please don’t give up now.” In my opinion, CFS is probably one of the most meaningless diagnoses around. What benefit could possibly be gained by telling someone that they’re tired all the time when that’s why they sought medical attention in the first place? Chronic fatigue is simply a symptom that’s caused by an underlying condition, and a medical diagnosis of “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” falls short of discovering the root cause.

I believe that our society has become one of immediate gratification – especially when it comes to fixing ailments. People often forget that an illness doesn’t manifest overnight. We have to learn to be in tune with our body and to read the clues and messages (symptoms) it sends so that we don’t let anything slip by.

So what would I recommend to the poster? As a Good Health Coach, I would tell her to take the diagnosis and file it away with the rest of her medical information and continue her quest to discover the root cause. I would also recommend developing a Wellness Plan that’s unique for her health habits and illness. Remember, you don’t have to accept the label of your diagnosis. You’d be surprised by how much control you really have over your health once you decide to take it.

Invisible Illness Week is Almost Here!

This year, when the dog days of summer wind down and advertisements for back to school sales begin to fill the airwaves, I ask you to consider taking part in National Invisible Chronic Illness Week on September 14th – 20th. Founded in 2002 by Lisa Copen, author of “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend”, National Invisible Chronic Illness Week serves to increase awareness of those who are suffering with an invisible illness.

So, what exactly is an invisible illness?

Wheelchairs, walkers, portable oxygen tanks, hair scarves and turbans, seeing-eye dogs, and hearing aids serve as tangible indicators of chronic disease or physical disabilities. Invisible illnesses, on the other hand, carry no such calling cards. Sufferers of invisible illnesses may “look fine”, and often bear no outward indicator of their illness. (In fact, if you’re reading this at an Internet café, it’s likely that you’re seated near someone – or may have even been served by someone – who is suffering with an invisible chronic illness!)

Invisible illnesses cross many spectrums, but most can be categorized into the following groups:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Neurological Illnesses
  • Psychiatric Illnesses
  • Autoimmune Diseases

Examples of invisible illnesses include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Migraines
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Lupus
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
  • Most autoimmune diseases
  • Thyroid disease
  • Heart disease

(Depending on the type and treatment regime, even cancer can be “invisible.”)

This list is composed entirely of diagnosed invisible illnesses. So, what happens if your invisible illness is undiagnosed?  Trust me when I say, that’s even worse!

For the next 5 Wednesdays I’ll discuss the effect of invisible illnesses on your finances, relationships, family, and careers. I’ll share my story along the way and encourage you to share yours.  Together we’ll fight to bring more awareness to invisible illnesses!

Next week:  The Not So Invisible Costs of Having an Invisible, Misdiagnosed, or Undiagnosed Illness

What your Mystery Symptoms Can’t Take Away

When your body is gripped by the symptoms of a mystery illness, it’s easy to lose sight and feel as though you’ve surrendered everything to your health challenges.  It’s equally discouraging when a debilitating chronic illness such Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia zaps your body of all its energy.

Now is the time to take stock of your assets, and have a closer look at what Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the symptoms of mystery illnesses cannot take away.  First and foremost, the symptoms of chronic illnesses and mystery illnesses are not omnipotent. They do not have the power to:

  • Overpower your spirit
  • Diminish your accomplishments
  • Destroy your inner drive
  • Stop you from dreaming
  • Quiet your inner thoughts

However, mystery symptoms CAN take over your life – IF you let them!

Think about it….have you been letting your mystery symptoms take over your life?