Will Your Diagnosis Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Make You Feel Better?
Probably, because after months and months of dragging your exhausted self from one doctor or specialist appointment to another and undergoing several blood tests FINALLY you have a diagnosis, it’s chronic fatigue syndrome.
At last, the weird collection of symptoms and the crashing fatigue you are feeling has an identifiable name. It isn’t all in your head after all, and it seems the medical community is finally taking you seriously. So there is undoubtedly a sense of relief that comes with your diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome.
All you need to do now is get your doc to prescribe the latest pharmaceutical medication for this annoying chronic fatigue thing and you’ll be on the mend. You look forward to being on your way to recovery and life can resume from where you left off.
Everything can get back to normal, a couple of prescriptions under your belt and you’ll be back doing all of the normal activities you have been missing out on. No more sitting on the sidelines of life. You can resume working full time, start catching up with friends and family again and get back to doing everything you used to do in your old life. Hallelujah!
But You Can’t Believe Your Ears
All of the euphoria you felt about resuming your old life evaporates as your doctor tells you there is no magic pill to make you all better. The only treatment options the medical community can offer will simply manage your symptoms, there is no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome. Your doctor can offer you pain medication, antidepressants and possibly sleeping pills, but no pill that will cure your illness or help with your debilitating, never ending fatigue.
You can’t believe what you are hearing. What about all of the other weird symptoms you have? Does this mean you are going to be stuck feeling this debilitating exhaustion for the rest of your life? Is your doctor saying there is no pill you can take that will suddenly return your energy levels to normal?
Disappointingly it’s true, standard medicine has no cure for chronic fatigue syndrome and honestly, the sooner you wrap your head around that fact the sooner you can get on with finding the help you need from a source that actually can deliver the health outcome you so desperately desire.
But First You Need To Understand What Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Is
It is a multifactorial illness and despite what many people wrongly think, it IS a very real illness. In years past a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome was a bit controversial. But, nowadays it is recognized and accepted as a very real medical condition.
Also known by two other names, systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), each individual who has this illness experiences it in their own particular way. Not everyone with chronic fatigue syndrome will have the same set of symptoms.
But, one symptom they do all share is the debilitating fatigue after too much exertion. And the level of exertion which is deemed too much differs with the individual.
Your doctor can only arrive at the diagnosis by finally ruling several other illnesses out first.Without one specific test to provide a diagnosis, you have probably spent a long time getting an actual diagnosis.
No doubt you are wondering how on earth you ended up with this illness. And the truth is this is why it is such a baffling illness, there is no single known cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. In fact it can be caused by multiple factors.
Whatever those ‘factors’ are it is likely that several forms of trauma are the culprit in causing your chronic illness. And, as you read the word trauma likely you are thinking of some type of accident, and it is true that sustaining a physical accident can be a triggering factor leading to chronic fatigue syndrome.
However, there are several other types of trauma that can cause this illness , some of which include:
- Bacterial infections.
- Problems with a low immune system.
- Stress and emotional trauma e.g., anxiety issues.
- Infections of a viral nature such as glandular fever.
- Gene mutations.
- Environmental and food sensitivities.
- Hormone imbalance e.g., HPA Axis dysfunction.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Gut health issues e.g., parasite infections.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you can see just how many factors can contribute to the trauma at the root of your chronic fatigue syndrome. It is likely not just one of these factors is the root cause of developing your illness, you may have multiple factors that lead you to being in the debilitated state of health you now find yourself.
So Where Do You Go From Here?
Well, the choice is yours. You can keep putting your faith in standard medicine in the hope that someday in the future they will find a ‘cure’ for chronic fatigue syndrome.
And by doing this you need to accept that for the foreseeable future your doctor can only help you with symptom relief. In the meantime, your health will most likely continue to decline. Your life will become more and more limited and you will be able to do less and less. You will have signs that chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t going away. Definitely not a positive outlook.
Or the good news is, you can take responsibility for your wellness and become your own chronic illness health coach.
What The Heck’s A Health Coach?
The Institute for Integrative Nutrition the world’s largest school of nutrition describes a health coach as “a wellness authority and supporter who helps individuals to feel their best by making healthy lifestyle choices”.
And let’s face it there is no more important healthy lifestyle choice than making a commitment to your own healing from a chronic illness. However, recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome is not about eating healthy food and getting some exercise. You need a complete strategy if you want to get well.
The first step is realizing that to get well you need to take responsibility for your own recovery and become your own health coach, be unwavering in the belief you can recover, formulate your game plan and cheer yourself on from the sidelines.
How To Find The Help You Need
The first step in your gameplan is finding a health practitioner who can help you. And finding the right help for chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t easy. During the 8 year period I had the illness, I was looking for help in all the wrong places.
I’ve always been a believer in visiting a naturopath rather than a GP. And, although I was looking to natural practitioners for help with recovery, the people I turned to simply didn’t have the necessary knowledge and experience to provide me with the right help.
The naturopaths I saw simply did not have the specific expertise needed for treating chronic fatigue syndrome patients. They were sort of the GP’s of the naturopathic world, when what I needed was a specialist.
Being a multifactorial illness you need a practitioner with experience who understands all of the different puzzle pieces that can contribute to this baffling illness and help you unravel the reasons for your particular form of it.
In carrying out this first step of being your own health coach you need to start with some research. I suggest you turn to the internet and search for Naturopaths/ Integrative Practitioners/ Functional Medicine Practitioners, or whatever you want to call this type of practitioner.
Depending on the country you are in, they will have a different name. But the important thing is you are looking for practitioners who appear to be offering expertise in the area of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Natural Treatment.
You will need to make initial contact to make sure the practitioner is right for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s all part of being your own health coach.
When you make your initial contact either via phone or email ask questions of the office staff or ask to speak with the practitioner directly. You may need to call back later at an arranged time to talk with them if they are busy.
RESEARCH – Do some of your own research on this practitioner to make sure you understand and agree with their approach. Often, practitioners work within an integrated practise where natural methods combine with allopathic (standard) medicine. Some people more used to allopathic medicine may feel more comfortable with this type of approach.
QUALIFICATIONS – Check out the practitioner’s qualifications and make sure they are appropriate for the country you are in.
EXPERIENCE– Ask how long they have been treating chronic fatigue syndrome patients.
SUPPLEMENTS – Do they insist that you only use supplements and herbal remedies which they supply from their office? This can be an advantage and a disadvantage.
Some practitioners like to only use quality supplements they are familiar with and have success with, which is understandable. But if you can’t visit their office they need to be able to send the supplements to you in a cost effective way. Or provide you with alternative brands which you can order online from IHerb or a similar competitively priced website. This is particularly important if you are working remotely with your practitioner.
COSTS – Find out about their fee structure. A good practitioner will work with you to come up with a treatment plan you can afford. You may have to take a number of supplements in the beginning to help address numerous issues which can be costly. Your practitioner should discuss with you a way to help you manage the cost of this treatment.
TESTS – Ask them about the tests they use.
You might find that the practitioner you choose is very popular and that’s a good thing. But due to this popularity you may be placed on a waiting list for an appointment with them. If you don’t want to wait, or the waiting time is very long, ask them for a referral to another practitioner experienced in treating chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you find your chosen practitioner’s location is too far away or is unable to do Skype/Phone consults ask them for a referral to a practitioner who does, or for one located closer to your home. Most good practitioners are part of a network in their field and can recommend other good practitioners with the right experience to help you. Again, be your own health coach and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4 Keys To A Successful Partnership With Your Chosen Practitioner
After completing your research, by this stage hopefully you’ve narrowed down your options list and decided on the practitioner you want to work with. There are some key considerations you need to make in order to ensure ongoing success as your own health coach.
COMMITMENT– Once you’ve asked all your questions and are satisfied with your choice of practitioner you need to commit to working together with them.
TRUST– You need to trust your practitioner. If you are new to alternative therapies some of what they tell you or ask you to do might seem extreme or just completely nuts. For example some add on therapies they might suggest could be acupuncture, IV vitamin therapy or colonic irrigation. These suggestions might make you feel a bit uncomfortable. Try to be open minded and trust that your practitioner knows what you need.
CONFIDENCE – Be confident that you will recover from chronic fatigue syndrome.
PATIENCE – You need to be very patient as you work with your practitioner to firstly unravel and then treat the reasons for your chronic fatigue syndrome. It takes time to carry out testing to discover the cause(s) and to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome, particularly if you have been sick for several years.
How To Start Working With Your Practitioner
Some practitioners understanding that their chronic fatigue syndrome patients are pretty imobile will conduct consultations via Skype or phone if you are unable to travel to their office.
For my first consultation with my naturopath, I flew to meet with her in the office. But after that, all consultations were conducted via Skype. I admit I was pretty desperate by this stage to find someone who could help me and willing to do whatever it took to have good health again.
In the beginning I was a little wary of how these Skype consultations would work, but it turned out great. Technology can be a real lifesaver in this type of situation.
Another way technology helps is being able to use patient/clinic portals to download/upload test results etc. This is fantastic for keeping all your information in one place. This makes it convenient for you and your practitioner to access this information as you continue along your journey back to health.
There are also some other definite benefits to working with a practitioner remotely online:
- You can choose a practitioner from a larger pool which gives you more options to find one that suits you.
- You can save time, money and energy by not travelling to your practitioners office.
However, this way of working may not suit everyone, particularly if you need to have a physical exam. Honestly, I think the best option is to do as I did, bite the bullet and travel if possible to have an initial consultation. At this point your practitioner may require blood, poop, urine or saliva tests to be taken anyway.
Then follow up consultations can be conducted via the marvel of modern technology if your chosen practitioner offers this type of service.
Persist With Treatment Until You Recover
I won’t lie to you, it can take a considerable amount of time, effort and a lot of persistence to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome. But with the right professional help guiding you, recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome is possible.
This is where you need to summon your own inner health coach again and keep cheering yourself on from the sidelines. Congratulate yourself on each small improvement in your symptoms and continue with confidence knowing that each small step gets you closer to recovery and being able to do all the things in life you have been missing.
Putting It All Together
Being your own chronic illness health coach isn’t so difficult. You just need to work on a strategy that will enable you to get better and be committed to following it through. And while you are still on that road to recovery, I hope you can find plenty of tips and information on my site that will help you.
If you find a naturopath who can help you, please feel free to leave their details in the comments below so that others can benefit.