Photo courtesy of Paco CT

Photo courtesy of Paco CT

On the weekend I watched a video about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome called “I Remember Me“. You can find it on Amazon or watch in on youtube at the bottom of this post.

As a sufferer of CFS I found the subject matter of great interest and the creators did a good job of summarizing many of the issues related to this mysterious illness.

I was struck with chronic fatigue syndrome about thirteen years ago. I wasn’t feeling at my best for a few months prior to the onset of the illness but it was nothing too serious. I was still functioning as normal.

But one day everything changed.

It started with a severe flu-like illness that I figured would pass in a week or so. After two to three weeks with no improvement I was becoming concerned. So I went to the doctor, did the general round of tests and nothing showed up.

“You’re perfectly healthy”, they said. But months passed and the illness still showed no signs of improvement.

I was bedridden for the better part of a year. There was pain all over my body – very deep muscle aches that were unrelenting. Chronic sore throat, splitting headaches, low appetite, digestive problems and severe stomach pain were some of my other symptoms.

I couldn’t sleep for more than a thirty minute stretch at a time and was lucky to get more than two hours total sleep a night. During the day I was obviously severely fatigued. Imagine the worst case of the flu in combination with a really bad hangover and you might get some idea.

The difference is that this state of being was never-ending. There was no relief in sight. I couldn’t even sleep to escape from the discomfort.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with this condition will understand just how dramatically it impacts on life quality. If you’ve not been through it this will probably be very difficult to comprehend. I’ve even seen research demonstrating that the quality of life of those with CFS is worse than terminally ill cancer patients.

Unfortunately the lack of a method of confirming the condition via medical testing makes it difficult for many sufferers to receive the validation of what they are going through. Additionally the name of the disorder has the effect of downplaying its seriousness.

This condition involves so much more than just fatigue. Sufferers are affected on every level of their body including immunity, neurological function, digestion and detoxification. Every organ system is disrupted.

I remember feeling so tired that a trip to the grocery store would put me in bed for two days because I simply didn’t have the energy reserves to cope. The fatigue was so severe that even making a sandwich was too much. On many, many more occasions I broke down in tears with severe distress due to being unable to meet just those simple daily demands.

Dealing with feeling so bad every day was hard enough. But what made things even worse was the lack of understanding and compassion from others including medical doctors. I was so deeply affected when my doctor didn’t acknowledge the extent of my illness because she couldn’t find any medical test to confirm that I was sick.

I’m a highly motivated person. I love to exercise and prior to the illness I was involved in competitive gymnastics and later dance and yoga classes. I would ride my bike and go the the gym whenever I could. And I love learning, especially about health and nutrition.

When this illness commenced all of this was taken away from me. When my doctor dismissed what I was going through I was devastated. The stress induced by her lack of acceptance and understanding actually made my condition worse for several weeks.

Unfortunately things haven’t really changed since then. There is still no accepted cause of CFS and a lot of misunderstanding about this condition. “I Remember Me” helps to bridge the gap a little, providing examples of people whose lives have been affected.

But still there is no treatment that works for everyone and each individual has to find their own path to healing. A holistic approach is necessary that might combine nutrition, supplementation, appropriate physical activity, herbal remedies, stress management and other therapies. Sometimes pharmaceutical medicines can help in the short term to alleviate discomfort but they do not generally do much to improve the overall condition.

In my situation I tried all of these things. Chinese herbal medicine and nutritional supplements did help a great deal, through the worst stages, which were extremely severe for at least several years and remained highly challenging until about four years ago.

Just over three years ago I started on a raw food diet and that is what has helped me the most. While I’m still not completely recovered, many of my symptoms of disappeared, the others have significantly improved and my quality of life is back on track.

My energy still fluctuates, and the healing process takes time. I also had a recent set-back when I contracted a parasite about a year ago. But my health is the best its been since I was struck with CFS and – depending on the day –  I feel that I am recovered between 80 to 95%.

But most of all I no longer think of myself as being a sufferer of the condition; I just have a few lingering health issues that are gradually resolving.

Today is a good day. Last night we were woken by noisy neighbors at 1am, as well as a 5.8 magnitude earthquake at 4am! But today – after a weekend on fruit – I’m feeling clear and energetic. I’ve prepared dinner, which we’ll be sharing with a friend tonight (Thai green curry with kelp noodles and vegetables), made a batch of red pepper chia/flax crackers and did a 45 minute session of pilates.

I already had some Vitamineral Green and watermelon before answering emails and writing this blog post. Lunch will be mangoes, which will fuel me for an  afternoon of freelance writing work.

This amount of activity would have been unthinkable for me just a few years ago. The brain fog was so severe that I couldn’t concentrate and would find myself reading the same page for  an hour, still without complete comprehension. Just an hour on the computer was extremely debilitating.

Sure I struggled through, and even managed to get my degree via distance education, which allowed me to rest when I absolutely needed to. However, it truly was a struggle and there wasn’t really any enjoyment in the process. These days the brain fog is completely gone.

Now a new sense of hope is emerging that soon I will be completely free of this condition that has impacted my life so completely. I feel that raw foods and detox are a major part of the key but perhaps of even more importance is the power of a positive intention.

While watching the video what really struck me the most was when the woman who created it – also a sufferer of CFS – made the statement that, no matter how hard it is, or how bad we are feeling, we just get up every morning and try again. When you give up hope you give up on the chance of finding a solution; on the chance for healing.

I regard myself as an optimist, so this I believe is one of the things that has got me through. But most of all it is the unconditional support and love from my husband that has made life worth living for me.

No matter what is going on with me, he is always there and always accepting. I can’t imagine how this period of my life would have been without him. In many ways it has strengthened our relationship and made me appreciate how lucky I am to have found such a wonderful man. So even though my life has been extremely challenging I also feel very blessed.

I’m still fine-tuning my diet and in many ways this will always be an ongoing process because our health is always in a state of flux. The longer I am on this path the more in tune I feel with my body and what it needs at any given moment.

The journey to optimal health still continues and I am in gratitude for the opportunity to learn more about how to heal chronic illness with raw food, and excited to share what I am learning with others who are on the same path.

Have you healed a chronic illness with a raw food diet?

Has anyone recovered from CFS using natural medicine or healing diets?

I’d love to hear your story.

And if you watch the movie let me know what you think.

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