Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The main symptom is fatigue, that is, tiredness and lethargy. But other symptoms can include muscle weakness, aches and pain, poor immune response, unrefrshing sleep as well as breathing and heart problems.
This article is a discussion on chronic fatigue syndrome as well as a personal sharing of how I recently appeared to have suffered from the condition - and how I found an almost instant cure once the root cause of the problem was understood.
The difficulty in understanding choronic fatigue syndrome - and finding an appropriate cure for it - stems from the fact that it is not a disease or ailment by itself. Rather, it is a symptom of some other medical problem.
Technically a person is said to suffer from CFS only when those other problems are unknown. For example, diseases like cancer or Aids can make a person feel tired all the time. So if a person experiences constant tiredness due to cancer or Aids, he is not said to be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Just because the underlying causes are not known, however, it does not mean that there are no underlying causes. They are simply not known. Or, medical professionals do not agree on what they causes are.
Among natural and alternative health practitioners, for example, chronic fatigue syndrome is often blamed on yeast or candida infection. But most medical doctors do not acknowledge that such a problem exists in the first place, except maybe in very serious cases.
Or, chronic fatigue syndrome might be blamed on sensitivity to food chemicals like monosodium glutamate (MSG). Here again, as far as most doctors are concerned, MSG does not cause any serious health issues.
Yet another possible cause might be sleep apnea, where a person periodically stops breathing during sleep. This causes changes in the sleep pattern and can result in a person feeling fatigue during the day. While sleep apnea is a medically recognised condition, it is also described as a condition that "often goes undetected for years or decades."
This is beause sleep apnea is diagnosed only with a sleep study, where a person is observed - and various measurements taken - throughout the night. How many people actually go through such a study?
And so on... there can be many possible causes. And until you identify the right cause, you are not likely to be able to solve the problem.
My personal experience shows this to be the case. This was what happened...
For the past about three months, I had been feeling extremely tired. I could not work longer than 15 or 20 minutes on the computer before I feel a great need to lie down and rest. And once I lie down, I might end up sleeping for one to three hours.
I was taking an average of one to three long naps a day, each nap lasting at least an hour. This is not counting the frequent shop naps that last only a few minutes. I had maybe five to 10 of those short naps daily as well. I was just sleeping and sleeping.
This went on for about three months. Normally, chronic fatigue syndrome is diagnosed only when the tiredness lasts for more than six months. So officially, I would not be said to have "chronic fatigue syndrome" even if I had sought medical help. But I certainly felt extremely fatigued!
I got worried and wondered if perhaps I had cancer. Or Aids, even though I have been careful to practice so called safe sex. If not, even candida infection or sleep apnea were causes for worry, because these are dfficult to treat conditions.
Meanwhile, I was having another difficult to treat condition - a persistent neck ache, It had started with severe neck pain while I was travelling in Tokyo in November. The pain was so bad, I sought and found a Japanese chiropractor even though I was due to return home the following day. Back in Singapore, I continued treatment with my osteopath.
Usually, whenever I had aches and pains, one or two treatments with my osteopath were enough. Not in this case. Even after seven or eight treatments, the problem persisted. My neck was so stiff that my osteopath could not "click" it. He had to use other techniques and the pain would just ease slightly, only to come back within hours.
Then came the coincidence... One afternoon, after I finished yet another unsuccessful osteopathic treatment, I met an old friend who told me he had an antique shop within the building (at Tanglin Shopping Centre). When I visited his shop, he introduced me to the tenant opposite - who happened to be an old friend of his and who does qigong therapy, a form of Chinese energy healing.
The few of us were chatting when I thought the qigong master might understand why I was feeling so tired and sleepy lately. “Your neck is congested and the energy is not reaching your head,” he answered.
Suddenly, it "clicked". What he said made perfect sense to me. My neck pain and my so-called "chronic fatigue syndrome" were both related. Immediately, I made an appointment to see him the next day.
The treatment lasted just over an hour, during which I slept like a pig most of the time. It consisted primarily of him placing his hands on various parts of my body. At times, he pressed certain points on my head, neck and shoulders. It was painful, but not unbearable (unlike some other forms of treatment I ever experienced, that was so painful my tears flowed!) (UPDATE: During one later treatment session, it was, indeed, painful to the point of tears!)
Immediately after treatment, I felt better. My neck felt looser although a bit of the ache was still there. More significantly, I felt myself sitting - and later standing - very straight and upright. And, I might mention, when I slept that night I felt horny. To me, this is yet another sign of good well-being.
The next day, for the first time in months, I did not take a long nap. I woke up at about 5.30 that morning and stayed awake throughtout most of the day, except for two very short naps each lasting no more than five minutes. It was a big change from before.
That was yesterday. Today, again I woke up early and I needed a nap halfway through this article. After all, 5.30 am is about two hours ahead of my usual waking up time. I know I am not fully recovered yet. I still have another treatment session on Monday. Perhaps I might need a few more.
(UPDATE: I modified the next few paragraphs from my original article because, as one reader rightly pointed out, all I had was chronic fatigue caused by my neck condition and not "chronic fatigue syndrome", which is a more serious condition that would have been far more difficult to treat.)
I am pretty sure that I - or rather, the qigong master - have identified the cause of my chornic fatigue. It is not one of the usual causes mentioned when you read articles on the subject of chronic fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome. But the qigong master's explanation made sense (to me) and his treatment produced results. That's what counts.
Best of all, I had two problems fixed at one go - my chronic fatigue and my neck ache. Again this makes perfect sense. It ties in with the holistic health concept that every part of the body is inter-related. When you restore balance - on, in this case, restore energy flow - to one part, the other parts will also heal themselves, naturally.
Moral of this story
The moral of this story, I guess, is that with vague, difficult-to-diagnose and difficult-to-treat conditions like chronic fatigue and/or chronic fatigue syndrome, one should be open minded and explore various possibilities.
This is not to say that one should simply try anything, hopping from one therapist to another. But if the therapist appears to understand the problem, and what he or she says makes sense (to you), then give it a try.