How Long Before I Recover?

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Everybody asks me this question! It depends how you define recovery. If you mean that you want to get back to how you were before the illness struck, then the answer is probably never. This is because you will simply set up the same conditions which made you ill in the first place.

People who get better from CFS are those who are prepared to make changes. These changes are often painful - changes to diet, personal relations, jobs, attitudes, desires, living environment and so on. If you are not prepared to make changes, recovery is unlikely.

What you have to remember is that symptoms are not just a nuisance but the way by which the body protects itself from itself! If we had no pain sensation we would not care about cuts, burns, bruises or knocks - people born with no pain sensation look like accident victims! Fatigue is Nature's way of telling us that healing and repair of mitochondria is necessary. We all feel tired and need sleep at the end of the day - failure to sleep is a lethal condition - after the 'flu epidemic of 1918, a proportion of people lost the ability to sleep - none survived beyond two weeks - the first solid evidence that sleep is an essentilal for life!

Most CFS sufferers come to me 'hating' themselves. They 'hate' themselves because they can't function as they used to. They push on through pain and fatigue barriers that no normal person would tolerate. People have to learn to love themselves as they are. The people who are best at making such changes have a better chance of recovering more quickly.

Having said all that, how quickly one gets better depends, in the first place, on what it is that is making you ill. I have some patients who improve simply by taking supplements, or by sleeping better, or by eliminating certain foods from their diet. Usually however it is a combination of these factors. It seems to me that everybody seems to get better in a different way and I am constantly being surprised! This is part of the fascination, for me, of treating CFS! It is also part of the frustration for the patient! Patients will need determination.

I am painfully aware that having CFS usually prevents one from earning a living. Therefore the treatments I suggest start off with the "cheap and cheerfuls" and progress onto those which are more expensive or difficult. This is the reason why I put EPD, for example, near to the 'end' of treatment options - because it takes time to work and is relatively expensive . However, in my NHS practice I would start on EPD soon because the treatment was free.

Expense of treatments always must be taken into account when thinking about alternative treatments - I have seen many patients who have spent large amounts of money on untested treatments.

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