On the CBS Sunday Morning program this last Sunday, they featured Louie Zamperini, a World War II veteran, whose life story was told by Laura Hillenbrand in her new book Unbroken. If you haven’t watched the interview, you should. Here’s the link: CBS Sunday Morning.
Many of you know that I suffer like Laura (and I don’t use the term suffer lightly) with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). She was my inspiration to finally becoming published.
Laura is bed-ridden and home-bound. Unbroken took her seven years to write, she conducted all of her interviews over the phone, and she never met Louie until recently.
During the interview, Louie confided that he gave Laura one of his Purple Heart medals. He stated that he suffered several years during the War but what Laura has suffered for the last thirty years, and continues to suffer, is much worse.
I can’t express to you how validating that was to hear from someone of his caliber. In a society where more people suffer with CFIDS than those with Multiple Sclerosis, lung cancer and AIDS put together, it’s hard to understand why even doctors are still skeptical and mistreat CFIDS patients.
Had I been properly diagnosed, I may not be as ill today.(1) Getting treatment within the first year is critical and can reduce symptoms and improve recovery. I went seven years and through about twenty doctors before my diagnosis. Seven years!
My story began with an incompetent doctor who did blood work on me and determined at the age of seventeen that I had a venereal disease or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Not believing me or my mother that I didn’t have a venereal disease, he injected me with an extremely high dose of antibiotics.(2)
To that point in my life, I had been extremely healthy and hardly ever sick. After that, I became extremely ill: my skin crawled, I continually got sick, I started having seizures. I wouldn’t find out until nine years later that I was allergic to penicillin.
I continued with college and then a job, struggling with severe fatigue, weakness, cognitive issues, constant illnesses and swollen glands. I knew every restroom stop from one end of the valley to the next. Many years later, my sister would take her daughters on a road trip of every place she’d had to stop for me to vomit along the side of the road while we were travelling to and from college.
Despite falling asleep on the job from such severe exhaustion, doctors would run standard CBC blood tests and find nothing wrong. I’d hear the standard lose weight answer and “Don’t worry, Be Happy” mantra from a popular song at the time.
After continuing to gain excessive weight, I finally gave in and went to a weight-loss specialist who put me on a liquid diet. I lost very little weight. The doctor assumed I was cheating and was lying about it. Neither was the case.
One day, he called me on the phone at work and told me I needed to come to his office immediately. Once there, he told me I had abnormal liver enzyme test results. I later found out that many of the other patients who were on the liquid diet had been diagnosed with the same liver issues. I now have Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (cirrhosis of the liver).
My problems didn’t end there.
See next week for the second part of: Never Before Revealed.
Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Comedy, Suspense…and Dogs!
Fly into a good book today at: www.dragonflyromance.com
(1) Two men also contracted CFIDS at my work. They were diagnosed within the first year, took medical leave, and partially recovered (enough to return to work).
(2) Doctors in the future would call me a liar. SLE is diagnosed with an arthritis panel, not with a venereal disease panel. I promptly show them my documented medical records and they are surprised.