Gentle Japanese Acupuncture & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Part 1

I personally struggled with the debilitating effects of post-viral fatigue for over two years. I caught Ross River Fever in 2001 (in the Ross River, as it happens). Dealing with the immediate effects of the virus was bad enough. Why, though, was I not back to my old self after three months? Six months? A year? When was I going to feel strong again?

At the time I was at the University of Queensland starting a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Journalism. It was a colossal struggle just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone get dressed, force myself to eat and take the bus to uni. When I got there I barely had the energy to drag my carcass across campus and into the lecture hall. Once I arrived, I would get out my books and my pen, resolve firmly to pay attention and take good notes... and promptly fall asleep for the whole lecture.

I slept through so many lectures in those first two years (the ones that I had the strength to drag myself to) that it became a Pavlovian reflex. Even years after my recovery I find it difficult not to fall asleep during lectures! Thankfully I was able to stay mostly awake throughout my Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture) at ACNM in Brisbane.

The doctors were able to tell me that I had contracted Ross River fever.

Unfortunately, that was all they could do for me. "Just get plenty of rest and take it easy" was the advice I got.

But I had been resting plenty. Way too much for my liking, and at very inconvenient times. It wasn't fixing anything.

Gradually I recovered with help from my family and friends. But lots of people who suffer from CFS and post-viral fatigue are not so lucky. They just get more and more tired, and the pain gets worse and worse. It can be enough to make a person want to kill themselves.

It doesn't help, either, that CFS sufferers don't have a visible problem or an easily-explainable diagnosis. Many healthy people don't understand. They may offer the CFS sufferer well-meaning but infuriating advice, such as "go to bed earlier" or "take vitamins" or "think positive thoughts!" Or they may just see the CFS sufferer as lazy, a malingerer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Often, people who get CFS are high achievers. Business people, elite athletes... these people would work hard. Harder than other folks. They would push through the pain, through the fatigue, through illness and injury. Nothing could slow them down... until their bodies just started to quit on them.

CFS sufferers are often the least lazy people on earth. However, not everyone's body can handle such an intense pace indefinitely.

Throw in an infectious disease, be it glandular fever, Ross River fever, Q fever, dengue fever, a virus the doctors can't diagnose, a parasitic infestation... and these high achievers, whose bodies are already pushed to the limit, start to break down.

Next week I will tell you what I have learned about the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was fortunate enough to learn my profession from someone who has helped many, many CFS sufferers live full, strong and energetic lives. In turn, I have been able to help CFS sufferers myself.

If you want to read more about how I treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, please take a look at part 2 of this article series.