dmarley: Fingerpainting (Default)
[personal profile] dmarley
I have been to the rheumatologist, and the verdict is 99.99% officially Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. No one was really surprised. They have to test me for stuff they're pretty sure I don't have, just to make sure I don't have it (TB, HIV, Hep B). In the absence of any other indications of disease, deficiency, or imbalance, though, and with me having several of the items on the checklist of CFS, it's a fairly straightforward diagnosis, unfortunately.

I know CFS was in the news a lot a couple of decades ago, but the Center for Disease Control has a pretty good page about CFS as it's being treated and diagnosed now. The most under-reported news, in my opinion, is that every attempt to link CFS to a specific retro-virus (Or, you know, any virus. Or common factor at all.) hasn't yet been borne out in repeated studies. Anyway, if you're at all curious, the CDC page is a good resource.

I don't really have news on the prognosis, because the truth is that no-one knows. Some patients do fully recover, and many improve to the point where they can return to normal activities. The most optimistic statistics seem to put the number of significantly improved patients at around 50%, and there's also some data that suggests that if recovery is going to happen, it will be within the first five years.

To that end, my doc is starting me on graded exercise therapy (which is described in the link above). Basically, CFS creates a nasty Catch-22 situation in which you need to exercise to keep up what levels of muscle and fitness you have left, while hopefully building up more stamina. If you overdo it, though, even a little, you can fall into exhaustion that lasts for days and have to start all over. The real trick is that "overdoing it" for a CFS patient can be walking around the room an extra lap, or going up and down the stairs an extra time.

I'm starting off with five minutes of swimming, and if getting to the pool is all I can handle for the first few days, so be it. :) My goal, over the next six weeks, is to see if I can get up to twenty minutes a day, five days a week, while sustaining a heart rate of 90 (just for perspective, the usual exercising heart rate for someone my age is 120-150). My doctor emphasized about a billion times that I need to be careful not to over-exert, because it's apparently really easy to tip over that edge.

All this is assuming, of course, that I can find any of my swim shorts. I found a swim tank right away, no problem, but I think the bottom half might be needed, too.

Onward and upward.
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September 2012

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