Chronic Fatigue: Shedding Some Light for the Patient.

I’m writing this post for one reason only. Its purpose is for uplifting those who are battling “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”…and you know who you are.

I, too, suffered through this awful disease. I recall many times being comforted reading stories and other such accounts from those who somehow overcame their illness. It was my flicker of light at the end of the tunnel you might say. And for this reason…I share mine.

Like recalling other major events which have crossed my path over the years, I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when this debilitating disease suddenly knocked me off my feet…literally.

It was a Saturday around noon. I was walking with my kids down the street in our neighborhood, as we so often did on the weekends, when out of the blue it happened.

One minute I was fine and the next, all hell broke loose. It was as if a lead blanket had suddenly dropped squarely on the back of my neck and shoulders. Next, for no apparent reason, my heart began racing as I became extremely lightheaded and short of breath. I was sure I was having a heart attack.

An extreme tiredness like no other permeated my entire body. This overwhelming fatigue was so intense that I had no choice but to sit down and rest every couple of steps as I desperately tried to make it back home to notify my wife who was at work. Little did I know this Chronic Fatigue was going to be my new way of life for the next two plus years.

For the following three months, I underwent every test known to mankind trying to figure out what was going on inside me…but nothing showed up.

After a while, the fear of the unknown grew alarming. I recall praying for just one test result to show up positive. That way…at least we would be able to tie a name to it and develop a plan of attack. But that never, ever happened. My doctor’s best diagnosis was that I had a virus I just couldn’t shake. I remember thinking…you must be kidding.

My wife thought dressing up on Halloween would make me feel better. She meant well.

My wife thought dressing up on Halloween would make me feel better. She meant well.

So after months of reading everything I could get my hands on about my symptoms, I diagnosed myself with “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”. That conclusion was the only thing that made any sense to me. When discussing my findings with my doctor, he said he didn’t quite subscribe to such an illness and refused to label me as such… mind you, this way 1989.

Three months turned into six. Then six into 12…and I wasn’t getting any better. Hell…it was all I could do to work a half a day most of the time. And with that, I was just going through the motions. Thank God I had a boss who cared more about me than the amount of work I did.

This disease is relentless…it doesn’t just make you tired. It keeps you down and completely exhausted 24/7. It took me weeks just to muster enough energy to get up and out of the living room chair to walk across the room. I remember waking up each morning more tired than when I fell asleep the night before. There was seemingly no end to this nightmare.

After about a year and a half, I still had zero energy and had lost better than 30 pounds to boot. This deterioration triggered an onslaught of depression as I was beginning to fear I was never going to get better.

It was about this time I decided to go all in. So I joined a gym and made a commitment to work out each and every single day, come hell or high water. I was either going to get better or die trying.

In the beginning, it was all I could do to walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. So…10 minutes it was. Then I went home. Each new day I would try desperately to stretch that 10 minutes to 15 or 20…but my body would have none of it. Even with these meager results, I stayed true to my commitment and never threw in the towel.

After going to the gym for about six months, it happened. It was as if someone turned on a light switch…and boy did that light ever come on. My energy returned…almost as quickly as it left. Thinking it was too good to be true and not convinced it would remain, I worked out as hard and long as I could.

I recall lifting weights with my brother for an hour and a half with each session…and we did this every day for months. I had never been happier in my life…or stronger.

 

Recent picture of me in the gym. Atten-hut!

Recent picture of me in the gym.
Atten-hut!

These workouts have since trimmed back to four days per week, but I have never missed a single one of them. As a matter of fact, I’ve been going to the same gym for the past 25 years without fail. I’ve seen four owners come and go and I’ll probably greet four more as I am looking forward to the next 25.

Once or twice a year, I get an all too familiar reminder, as a remnant of the fatigue returns. But it has never lasted longer than three or four days at a time…thank God. I can live with that.

There’s one last thing I want to say concerning Chronic Fatigue and its ability to wear you out and break you down. I vividly remember feeling so all alone as I would sit in our living room chair on a beautiful sunny afternoon, too tired to move…and scared I may always be. And in those lonely moments of solitude, I would wonder if anyone even had a clue of what I was going through.

As I started opening up and discussing it with friends and family, I quickly realized how prevalent it actually was. I learned there were several folks in my circle of friends, as well as one person in my family, and a neighbor who was suffering from it. Funny, but in a weird sort of way, it made me feel some better just knowing I wasn’t alone. I guess, misery truly does love company.

Listen…you’re not alone and you’re going to get better…but it may take a while…a long while. Hang in there!

I think there’s a lot to be said for not giving up…even if it’s only desperation and fear keeping you from doing so. But for now, it may be all you have…though it just might be enough for today. Take them one at a time.

Twenty five years ago Chronic Fatigue abruptly took complete control of my life. And it continued to do so non-stop for a period of better than two years. I’m here to say, somehow I got through it…and there’s no earthly reason why you can’t as well.

I’m not sure if it was sheer determination, or the grace of God that pulled me through, but I do know this…something did. As a matter of fact, I’m now healthier and more vibrant today than I have ever been in my entire life.

I can honestly say, I know exactly how you feel and what you’re going through. Therefore, I know it’s going to take every ounce of your energy to follow my advice.

Get out of bed. Eat as healthy as you can and literally put one foot in front of the other each and every day. If you don’t feel like doing it…do it anyway. If you don’t feel like you can…try it anyway. And if you don’t feel it is doing you any good…keep it up anyway.


This mindset, coupled with many prayers and my wonderful wife, is what got me through…and that, my friend, is an absolute fact. I hope my flicker of light finds its way through.

God Speed

Bill Peak

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10 Responses

  1. Vickie Carrico
    Vickie Carrico July 17, 2013 at 10:37 am | | Reply

    Bill, as always, this article spoke to me. Not because I have CFS, but I have been dealing with Sciatica for the past 4 months. I refuse to take painkillers and some tell me to take it easy. But I KNOW I feel so much better after my workouts. It’s imperative that we keep MOVING! Well done, Bill. I got to see Kathie Cunningham Hill last week and she asked if I knew how you were and I happily told her that you and your family were INCREDIBLE! How nice to say that. Please give my love to Leslie and have her give you a big hug for me!

    Vickie

  2. Sibyl
    Sibyl July 23, 2013 at 6:13 am | | Reply

    Bill, all I can say is WOW! What an incredible story. As I was reading, I kept thinking of all the things I’ve ever read, and since all your tests came up negative, including Hgb I assume (its the first thing they check), CFS is the only logical thing I could also think of…other than depression. But depression came after, rather than before and you did not mention any significant events prior to that. CFS is a diagnosis of exclusion, similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (however, I think they have found that it can be connected to some psychological issue like lack of serotonin; that’s why some people will treat it with prozac, or the like). Maybe there was a small component of serotonin deficiency (something, physicians don’t really look at or can measure). And that constant exercise that you did slowly increased the serotonin level….I don’t know just a guess. i can’t stand not finding out the cause of something. I can almost feel your frustration.
    Anyway, you can also look at it spiritually…..God’s way of saying get up off your feet and do something else for yourself than just working day in and day out. I don’t know, Just a thought….

  3. Sibyl
    Sibyl July 23, 2013 at 6:16 am | | Reply

    By the way……OMG! I haven’t seen a “vinyl disc” in a long time. That certainly brought back memories…. The sound is so much better. All my albums are at my parents’ house. They have a player.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous February 20, 2014 at 9:51 pm | | Reply

    Bill as always your written words are so inspiring…I believe this will help many who are fighting some terrible disease or disability. We all were really worried about you back then but LOOK at you now; fit,trim and handsome so if those suffering just take heed to your words and experience they should know there is hope and better days ahead. (Just do not give up or give in people- listen and learn and take heart to what Bill is telling you.) Thank you Bill for your WORDS of WISDOM. I believe your words are helping people in so many ways. Love and Best Wishes to you always.

  5. trudycarroll
    trudycarroll March 17, 2014 at 11:41 pm | | Reply

    It is all very well to say get up and out but when it takes all your strength to get from bed upstairs to the couch downstairs exercise is an impossibility. I have managed to leave the house once this year and only about 9t imes last year and then was only for really, really having to, i.e. attending; hospital (two outings), children’s graduation (two outings); parent teacher meetings (once) relatives removal and funeral (two outings) meal out for children’s 18th birthday (one outing) and meeting re college (one outing).. and believe me if it was not for the sake of my children I would not have gone out at all. Each outing even though they were only for a couple of hours had me feeling sicker for weeks afterwards.

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