Chronic Fatigue Issues ~ My Story

Before I get started talking about my history with fatigue, let’s address a couple of things first.  You know, because I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.  So!  Here ya go!

Important Notes

Medical Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed physician.  The information discussed is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects.  You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues, including consulting with your doctor before using any alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Supplement Note: Supplements, minerals, herbs, and essential oils are powerful and can interact with medications, other supplements, minerals, herbs, essential oils, foods, and health conditions.  Therefore, you should always speak with a health care professional familiar with these substances and do your own research before adding any of them to your regular regimen.

My Experience

As stated in a previous post, I have fought fatigue for years, decades even. It’s literally been since I was in my mid 20’s.  I talked to my Dr many times about my fatigue, and I adjusted my activities.  Nothing ever worked.  I eventually quit discussing it with my Dr; he always said the same thing anyway with no real help for me.  That Dr always picked whatever was happening in my life as my “stress source for fatigue”.  Preschool kids?  Yep, well, you’re going to be tired.  Young school aged kids and selling products from home?  Sure, ya know, you’re going to be tired.  Middle school aged kids and family wide secretary and working a sales job?  Come on, you know you’re going to be tired doing all that!  And so it went for several more years.  Meanwhile, I continued to decline.

“I Wake Up Like This  #Tired”

What I wanted to know is…  At what point are you no longer tired?  Seriously.  I knew a couple that had six kids.  All of those kids were in activities and sports, and the parents were both coaches and room parents, etc, etc, etc. They were running circles around me with nary a nap in sight!  Me?  I’m over here with a mere two kiddos, only one in sports, no coaching or room mom-ing (new word! Lol!), and requiring a three-hour nap daily.  Daily.  Period.  Seriously, I almost literally fell asleep one evening while trying to cut up a chicken for dinner.  I’ll just say leaning on your elbows at the kitchen sink does NOT give good leverage against splitting a chicken breast bone.  Just sayin’.  (Side note: My wonderful hubs stepped in and sent me to lay down while he finished cutting up the chicken.  He’s so good to me.  Love the dude!)

My Turning Point

Anyway, in my late 30’s, I eventually had enough. By this point, I had eliminated all the activities and responsibilities that I could.  Yet, still, all my spare time was spent feeling “nailed” to my sofa trying to “rest up”.  It was never enough.  I knew that was no way to live.  So, eventually, I began researching for a new Dr.  I had heard of that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) thing being bandied about.  And that sounded like a real possibility as my issue.  Maybe pursuing that route I could finally get some answers.

So, there I was narrowing my search to find a CFS Dr, hopefully in my area, which hopefully also took my insurance.  Bingo!  I found two.  Yay!  I picked the Dr closest to me and booked an appointment.

Step One

That Dr was very good.  On just that first exam, she was pretty sure I had an under-active thyroid hormone level, a condition known as hypothyroidism.  She listed off several physical symptoms I exhibited that day that led her to that conclusion.  The symptoms I had that day, which I simply thought were “normal” for me, included dry hair/skin/nails, overweight, feeling cold, brain fog, tired all the time, shortness of breath on exertion, slight edema, eczema, scalloping of tongue, premature graying, plus a few others.  We ran labs, and I was scheduled to return the following week for the results.  I went home to research my heart out about hypothyroidism and what that meant for me.

At the next appointment, I was a little more knowledgeable and ready to go.  Then….. Surprise!  I was NOT hypo-thyroid.  I was in fact hyper-thyroid.  She was really surprised, but labs don’t lie.  They may not tell the entire story, but facts are facts.  My thyroid was in an over-active state, which was later revealed by additional labs to be caused by Graves Disease, an autoimmune disease.  My symptoms may have been confusing, but labs told the real story.  As for my symptoms, I realized later that this is what most refer to as “cross-over symptoms”.  There are symptoms for thyroid for high levels and low levels.  Cross-over symptoms are when a symptom traditionally from one class “crosses over” to the other class.  This is why it is important to look at symptoms and labs in diagnosing and treating any condition.

The Learning Curve 

I will do another post later to cover my path to thyroid wellness more in-depth.  But, in a nutshell, I dove in and began learning about and adjusting to living with hyperthyroidism.  There is so much to cover!  But, I did it.  I learned a lot.  And, with the help of that Dr, I began taking my first regular supplements not classified as a multivitamin.  There were a lot of changes made with lifestyle, dietary, and adding/eliminating supplements.  And within a few months my thyroid levels were finally down and within the “normal ranges”.  Yay!

That Dr was happy.  I wasn’t as happy, but I was definitely feeling better!  My symptoms improved.  And several other symptoms, that I thought were just quirks of normal for me, reduced or disappeared as my levels dropped and stabilized.  The key with thyroid health recovery is to maintain stable levels.  I was there, for the most part.  So, the rest was just a waiting game.  I hoped my fatigue would lessen soon.

Step Two

Six months later, I was doing better.  Definitely, feeling like I was finally headed in the right direction.  And, although I was firmly diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and unofficially diagnosed with CFS, I felt there was more.  Through all the research I had been doing, I at least felt there was a possible therapy that could help me feel better. Right? Regardless, I knew I was missing something.  I knew there was more to it than what I was diagnosed with at that time.  Whether it was further treatment, or additional issues as yet un-diagnosed, I wasn’t sure. So, I researched that direction.

Meanwhile, I had joined a couple of thyroid health forums on-line.  My favorites are a Mediboard forum and a Healthboards forum.  (The later forum seems to no longer be available. Darn it.)  I have always preferred to learn from those that “have been there and done that”, especially those who found results I wanted to achieve.  To me its much like listening to a fitness trainer vs a couch potato in learning to get fit.  Anyway, reading about what had helped others, I had decided to look into a therapy called Applied Kinesiology.  I found a chiropractor near me with good reviews on-line and booked an appointment.

Increasing Awareness

At my appointment, he discovered my adrenal system was fatigued.  He put me on a supplement to help my adrenal system to balance and replenish itself.  He also helped me understand the importance of good chiropractic care.  Subsequently, I began seeing him for chiropractic adjustments as well.  The nervous system just works better if it isn’t kinked within misaligned joints.  Truth.  Overall, it was a very productive and beneficial appointment for my body.

Afterwards, I went home and now dove into researching adrenal fatigue.  Who knew such a thing existed?  Well, now I knew.  And I was living it!  And…  By the way…  All those cross-over thyroid symptoms I had???  Yeah, it seems low thyroid and low adrenal issues both have a lot of the same symptoms.  Again…  Who knew?!?!?  Although, this just means my body isn’t behaving a weirdly as I thought it was.  Whew!  Lol!  And, eventually, I started feeling a bit better.  Life was definitely looking up.

Step Three

At about two years into my healing journey I decided to find another Dr.  That first Dr and I just weren’t seeing eye to eye on some things.  Time for a change, and maybe more answers to my continuing fatigue issues.  I decided to give a shot to the other Dr I had previously found.  I set an appointment and prepped to go.

At the first appointment I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  For a great breakdown of what Fibromyalgia is and how it’s diagnosed you can check out this site.  For me, I was diagnosed by checking my pressure points along with details of my ongoing health and fatigue issues.  At that appointment I had extreme pain with 14 of 18 pressure points.  For diagnosis, one needs a score of 11 of 18.

Preferred Treatment Method

By now, I had corralled my preferred treatment option to primarily natural treatments, including the use of supplements.  This Dr treated with medications, supplements, and a wide variety of alternative treatments.  From the first day we were on the same page.  Bonus!  He was ok with me being a research freak.  And he was perfectly fine with me getting my supplements from outside his office.  I only needed to make sure of the specific form and strength he recommended, then go do my research and buy where I felt comfortable.  (I’m wary of any medical professional that requires you to purchase anything “you can only buy through their office”.  To each his own though.)

Added Treatment Modalities

As another bonus for me, he also practiced applied kinesiology.   I soon began “testing” his results against the results my chiropractor came up with.  They didn’t know each other, yet always yielded the same results when they tested me.  He also eventually introduced me to Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and got me started on it.  LDN has proven to be vital in aiding my recovery process and my overall functionality.  You can learn general information about LDN, or dig into the research available.  There is a ton of info out there on this great therapy option.

This wonderful dr had a ton of therapy and testing options he suggested we work through.  Sadly, most were not covered by insurance.  There were Lyme Disease testing, multiple panels of allergy testing, detoxification protocols, and the list went on and on.  While I couldn’t afford to pay for a lot of those, I did do a few.  I did different low-cost detox therapies, herbal treatments, added new supplements, and did a blood food allergy test, among other things.  I learned of a couple of pretty strong food allergies.  Eliminating those items helped immensely and furthered my path to recovery.

Medical Setback

Unfortunately, that Dr eventually decided to work as a Dr for civilians working on our overseas military bases.  So, for a few years I bounced around with other Drs trying to find a permanent Dr that was as knowledgeable and as easy to work with as my second Dr.  The hunt was not as easy as I thought it would be.  Meanwhile, I still struggled with my energy and stamina.  Overall, I just tried to keep myself stable as my fatigue continued.

Step Four

While I was bouncing from Dr to Dr, and still seeing the original chiropractor, my health recovery seemed to stall.  I eventually caved and decided to seek out a naturopathic Dr in my area.  In my state they are not licensed to prescribe medicine, but they are knowledgeable with supplements and other natural health care options.  I sorely needed this as I was not finding a Dr that was knowledgeable about the supplements I was now taking, much less able to suggest changes as needed.  This decision turned out to be the pivotal decision I was hoping for to get my recovery back on track and progressing again at that time.

Back on Track

At every appointment the naturopath tweaked my supplements to keep me on track and improving.  We upped or lowered doses; other times we would remove and/or add in new supplements.  Additionally, she also knew applied kinesiology.  She now became my tester against my chiropractor, just as my previous Dr had been.  She also encouraged extra lab testing, including Lyme Disease testing. We prioritized different tests as to which I would do first if I wanted to pursue testing at my own cost.  Even though it was years later, insurance still wouldn’t cover a lot of the good quality, in-depth tests.  I eventually took the plunge, paid the price, and did the Lyme Disease testing through Igenex Labs.  When the results came back I was surprised, but not really.  I was positive for current and past Lyme plus co-infections.  I’m now a statistic with the CDC as all positive Lyme Disease test results are reported to the CDC.

Step Five

While my naturopath began me on potent herbal treatments for my Lyme, I hit the Internet to research my latest diagnosis.  I also had to concede defeat to a friend who also had Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease.  She had been telling me for years that my Fibromyalgia was most probably caused by Lyme Disease.  She stated, in her opinion, every person she’d known personally with Fibromyalgia so far had eventually tested positive for Lyme Disease.  My results proved her right, at least in my case.  If you have Fibromyalgia and have not been tested for Lyme Disease, then I highly suggest you do so.  It could be a major contributor to your Fibromyalgia.

Another Breakthough

One of the other series of tests I did was genetic testing.  Among other things, I learned I had the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase mutation (MTHFR).   (Note: Just because you have a  specific gene doesn’t mean it is actively causing an issue.  It must be “turned on”.)  Though my results, lab tests, and my symptoms, this was confirmed to be an active gene mutation for me, as opposed to being dormant.  Basically, my body doesn’t detox well.  No shocker there!  By this point I had done several detox protocols with varying Drs.  This was just another piece to my puzzle.  Tweaking my supplements and medications helped to reduce the affects of this genetic influence on my health. 

Step Six

I always default to the phrase “slow and steady wins the race”.  As long as you keep moving the scenery will eventually change.  Eventually.  So, I plodded on.  And I slowly continued my improvement.  Yay!

Just last year I finally found a Dr that I’m once again happy with.  He’s freshly “off the reservation”, as I like to say.  In that, I mean he has begun learning about, and valuing different alternative treatment options, and no longer focusing solely on modern allopathic medicine to treat his patients.  He is also okay with me being a research fanatic.  And, an extra huge benefit, is that he is fully behind prescribing LDN.  That is HUGE!  It’s huge because there are a surprising amount of Drs out there that are unfamiliar with LDN and its uses.  And, sadly, not many are willing to learn, or broaden their knowledge in any way suggested by a patient.  That is Just sad.

Re-Assessing and Moving Forward

Though I’ve been improving gradually since I began my healing journey, and markedly improving the last two to three years, I’m still not at the point where I would call myself “normal”.  I still have fatigue flare-ups that last anywhere from one day to a couple of weeks or so.  Randomly I will oversleep and throw my entire day off track.  And, I still may not know the “why” behind all of those occurrences.  But, overall, yes, I am much better than I was in the days when I felt “nailed” to my sofa.  Whew!  My diligence is paying off.  Yay!  Which brings me to current times.

Step Seven

This year I finally have been well enough to begin, and maintain, a consistent workout plan.  At the beginning of this year I began walking a couple of times a week for about an hour at a time.  I am super happy to report that, outside of a few illness episodes, I have been able to maintain that routine.

I’ve been doing good, but still not losing weight as I had hoped and expected to.  So, a month ago I added in a video workout at home.  I’m not sure, but I think it’s a HIIT type of workout.  Of course, I highly modify the heck out of it, but I still move throughout.  Because, ya know, I’m not in that good of shape yet.  Yet.  Key word!  But, I’m getting there!

Lessons Learned  ~ Research

Overall, I’ve learned some key things throughout my medical odyssey that I think are vital for everyone.  For instance, knowledge is power, so arm yourself and research your heart out.  It’s your best tool in regaining your health.  Research each diagnosis, and treatment plan, you are given.  How will you know if your Dr is giving you the best treatment if you aren’t educated on what effects you personally?  Be your own best advocate.  If you don’t care, then no one else will.  After all, no one knows your body, and symptoms, like you do!  Just think about that.

Know What You’re Working With!

Something else is that vitamins, minerals, herbs, and essential oils are powerful substances.  These are indeed, or can influence, the building blocks of our bodies.  Research before you take any “new to you” substance.  Familiarize yourself with their benefits and dangers, so you know what to watch out for while you’re taking them.  Furthermore, Absolutely NEVER let a Dr dismiss your use, or inquiry, of them.

Who Is Working For Who???

While we’re talking about Drs.  Drs are highly knowledgeable and vital to helping us with our health.  But, remember, they are not God, and they are essentially “working” for you.  Much like you hire a mechanic to fix your car.  If your car isn’t getting fixed, you take it to another mechanic.  Likewise, with Drs. you, or your insurance, is paying their bills.  Spend your money wisely.

The Golden Egg

Furthermore, remember to always consider symptoms along with labs and other medical testing.  Labs alone will never tell the whole story.  Case in point is that currently my labs look perfect, and have for several years now, despite my ongoing issues.  Not only are all my labs within “normal” ranges, but they’re also considered to be within “optimal” ranges.  Therefore, most traditional Drs out there that are lab result worshipers would consider me psychosomatic about my symptoms, and are absolutely no help to me at all.  Your medical professionals must be taking your symptoms into account when deciding your treatment plans.  The goal should always be to help you improve your health and quality of life.  If that is not happening for you, then it might be time to look for a new Dr.  Of course, only you can decide that for yourself.  

Above All Else

And last but not least…  Never give up!  You may get discouraged, crash and crumble.  But, eventually, pick yourself back up and get back in the game.  If you don’t care, then no one else will.  And have No regrets.  Seriously.  Try to live with no regrets.  Decision time?  Picture yourself after having made the decision.  Do you have a twinge of regret, remorse, anxiety, or anything but peace with that decision?  Then you know that’s the wrong choice. If possible, pick one of the other options.  Follow Peace. It’s not always possible.  But, I try to choose the most peaceful option available

My Wonderful Now

Well, that about covers the basics.  So, Here I am living with many diagnosis’.   And somehow I’m making it work and rising above it all.  I refuse to let a thyroid that likes to get hyper from time to time, or adrenals that crash way to easily, or the tired/stiff/tenderness of Fibromyalgia, or the residual affects of having had undiagnosed chronic Lyme Disease hold me back.  I will keep fighting.  Likewise, if you have any health issues, you should keep fighting with all your mojo.  You never know when your next breakthrough will happen.  It could be just around the corner.  So, go get ’em, tiger!

I hope I’ve shared something you can use.  If you have a question then hit me up in the comments.  As always, thanks for stopping by.  Talk to you soon!

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10 Replies to “Chronic Fatigue Issues ~ My Story”

  1. I need to reread everything you shared but correct me if I’m wrong-not one doctor talked to you about a nutrition? There’s specific diets for people with thyroid issues and most people benefit from at least cutting out bread, pasta, and sugar from their diets. I hope you get to feeling better regardless!

    1. Overall…Nope. One Dr did run food allergy tests. And, my chiropractor did suggest dietary elimination trials from time to time. But, I learned nearly all of my nutritional info from my own research and from message boards. Subsequently, my diet is pretty darn clean, so I think they assumed that aspect was already covered. Nevertheless, I’m with you on their lack of interest in the nutritional side of health and healing.

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