Healthy You
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Until you read "The Thief of Many Lives" you too may have questioned the validity of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a real illness. It is VERY real, especially for us the sufferers and our caregivers. The credibility and validity of this disease has long been a most difficult message to convey to our Government, Physicians, Healthcare Professionals, friends, families and general public.  What makes this even more challenging than how we might physically appear is the inappropriate name given to such a serious and debilitating disease. Consequently, one of the worse things someone can say to a person with CFS is how well we look on a particular day... we must be feeling "better" ... "better" than what? Death? Unfortunately, CFS victims generally do not feel better than death... warmed over or otherwise!  Lengths of time go by, months, seasons, and then years when all of our reserved energy is used simply to eat and breathe and those are the "good" days. Unfortunately, not many see this, as most people with CFS are left to suffer behind closed doors.  Unexplainably, our cries for awareness, and validity continue to fall upon deaf ears. WAKE UP AMERICA  (or other country)!!!  CFS is at epidemic proportions destroying lives and affecting millions of people worldwide.

May 12th is International CFS Awareness Day. Please make your voice be heard. Inform others about the tragic impact this illness is having on you, your loved one and our nation (your country).

BE AWARE OR BEWARE As you could be writing this letter from your bed next May 12th.

The Thief of Many Lives

© Kathleen Houghton ---  Alaska CFS-MCS Association 1996
*Revised 2002.


I am constantly on the prowl in search of new victims. I do not
discriminate---health care workers, teachers, students, airline personnel,
teens, moms, dads, and innocent children are my prey. If you are dynamic
and have a lust for life, I will seek you out, and I will find you.

Just when you are at the peak of your endeavors, climbing that career
ladder or building your family and home, I will find you. There is nothing
that you have in your life today that I am not capable of destroying
tomorrow, your career, your education, your goals, your dreams, your
family, and your life. I will have it all. I will strip you of your ability
to function at any level above minimal, and from this day on you will refer
to that minimal as a "good day."

I have the ability to create an invalid out of you overnight, and I will.
It will take a marathon effort for you just to get out of bed. At a
cellular level your immune system will be in a constant war battling itself
and unnamed viruses, which will painfully be replicating in your brain. I
far beyond what you can ever imagine.
Your mind will be in a constant "fogged" state, your expression will be
unable to express, and your eyes will have a noticeable "glazed
over/drugged out" look. You will find it most difficult to pay attention,
concentrate, or even process the simplest of thoughts. Making change from a
dollar may well be beyond your ability now. Your mouth may feel like it is
full of marbles when you try to speak, as your tongue twists and nothing
you try to say comes out right. Who would believe your level of education
when you can't even string enough words together to make a complete
sentence ... or one that makes any sense for that matter.
I promise, I will bring you at any unsuspecting time, severe abdominal
pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along with a host of gastro-intestinal
disorders. I will make you weak and lifeless as one could be without being
confirmed dead. You will be housebound or in bed for several years if not
the rest of your life. As part of incapacitating you, I will make your
heart race and your head pound; your throat will constantly be sore and
your lymph glands will swell. That will all seem trivial after I inflame
and spasm muscles throughout your body. Crushing a grape between your
fingers may take too much energy or be too painful now.

On those nights that I allow you to sleep, you will awaken drenched with
sweat or throbbing with pain. Perhaps I might even throw in a little
seizure activity. On those nights that I do not allow sleep to occur; I
will torture you with thoughts of death.... Not suicide, but death. Simply
because you have not come to realize that this is your new life, and that
you are not living. You will need to re-create your being every day, as
every day I will bring you unpredicted symptoms and suffering.

I have also done a few things that you may not be aware of yet. I placed
some lesions on your brain (have you noticed how you have difficulty with
balance and memory yet?) and I have permanently altered your immune system.
I have shorted out your nervous system so that you have intermittent
numbness and tingling, which might resemble an electrical current zapping
you from time to time. This is called neuropathy. Nope, it's not curable
either!

Now I have you. I have taken over your body and mind. I have stolen your
life but left you alive, not very functional, but by clinical definition
you are still alive.

Your family will not be able to give you all the constant care that you
need on a daily basis. As for your friends, well, they're still on that
ladder climbing up. Rest assured, I am looking for them too. By now,
chances are good that most of your family and friends have abandoned you,
so you must have learned the definition of isolation. This newfound
isolation will save you from having to explain how sick you really are to
others, they won't understand anyway. Isolation will save you all that
energy.
Your health insurance has already been or will shortly be discontinued as
you lost your job from not being able to "keep up."
Perhaps you got caught dozing off or called in sick one too many times. Now
that you are no longer employable or insurable, when you seek medical care,
any medical professional that figures me out will diagnose you and say that
what you have is presently not curable.

Now it is time for you to seek out medical care, nation if not worldwide.
However, most so called medical professionals will not even have the
ability to recognize me when they see me, as they have not learned about me
in medical school. So, chances are good that you will be misdiagnosed. You
will give more blood samples and have more examinations than you ever
imagined existed. Then you can take the results to dozens of doctors in
search of a diagnosis. One that is valid as well as socially and medically
acceptable. One that does not label you as depressed or say that "it is all
in your head!!!" Most doctors will suggest a vacation, weight loss diet,
new or increased love life, help with the children, or change of scenery as
the "cure," mainly because you may look like the picture of health. This is
my mask of deception.

You will pray for a positive word from current research. Research, which
you will soon learn, is quite limited due to lack of funding and government
support. You will learn new vocabulary which contains words like: T-Cells,
Cytokines, Nuclear Antigens, Natural Killer Cells, Immunoglobulins,
Cytomegalovirus, Seratonin, Cerebral lesions, and Immune Dysfunction are
among a few. However the most important words that you will need to know
and fight for are Social Security Disability and Medicare.

At one point I may give you a false sense of recovery or remission. Let me
assure you, I will be back, as you are my prisoner and that makes me your
keeper. I have placed the lives of millions of people nationwide in limbo,
I continue to do the same world wide. I would consider this an epidemic,
wouldn't you?

Eventually I will bring the government, health care workers, and society to
its knees in search of unraveling my complexities, which are crippling
humanity. I leave it up to you, my victims, and your caretakers, to educate
the public and let them know that I am very real and that you are very
sick. Unfortunately, I have been given a totally ridiculous name, which
will make your job even more difficult. Until that name is changed, I am.
CHRONIC FATIGUE AND IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION SYNDROME

The Alaska CFS-MCS Association, in conjunction with other national &
international health organizations, researchers and medical professionals
provides information, education and awareness about
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Environmental Illness & Multiple Chemical
Sensitivity.

Kathleen Houghton also assists businesses, schools and hospitals in
implementing No Fragrance Policies in the work place.
cfs-mcs@gci.net

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This page was last updated on: December 6,
2002

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