Chronic Fatigue versus Paleo

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I used to think Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was a load of crap …. until I found I had it.

And I used to think Paleo diet was just a fad, until I read the links between it and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the blood type diet I’ve been experimenting with over the past year.

yawning woman in the morning holding a toothbrush; Shutterstock ID 94825978; PO: The Huffington Post; Job: The Huffington Post; Client: The Huffington Post; Other: The Huffington Post

Recently I’ve been working really hard … physically really hard … actually ridiculously hard, completing the renovation of my parents’ crazy big house that needed remodelling internally, and a complete garden makeover externally. I’m talking excavations, laying concrete retaining walls, landscaping and all internal works. And I only had 8 weeks to do it in, so that meant long days interspersed with short bursts of sleep. All self-inflicted and by choice but I had a very tight deadline, and an even tighter budget to manage.

On the 9th November 2015, the day after the photo shoot for the sales campaign I couldn’t move … I was bed ridden, exhausted. I slept for 2 days and was pretty much useless. Whilst I did feel a little more energised in the days that followed what I noticed was a major shift in my physical health. It was marked and dramatic.

I found I was continually suffering from fatigue – in fact I’d never felt this tired before in my life. And no matter how much I rested just a short burst of activity saw me needing a nanna nap afterwards. Sometimes even the thought of activity made me tired.

I started forgetting things, even after upping my Lumosity training. My short term memory was deteriorating. I’d constantly forget where I put something down just moments after I’d done it, and sometimes, even mid-sentence, I’d forget what I was saying. And these things didn’t happen once, they have happened regularly.

Every morning I would complain to my hubby of waking up tired and really sore, in all muscles of my body, and for no real reason I could think of. The pain always started in my hips, but as I started moving around it moved into my knees, elbows, arms, legs, back, neck … everywhere.

I was unable to control my body temperature, fluctuating between hot sweats and the shivers. Unable to tolerate cold weather, even the balmy 23 degrees we keep our apartment no longer feels comfortably cool. I’m hot, pretty much all the time except for the old cold turn. And it’s hard to get cool.

I feel puffy and heavy all the time; my upper arms are bloated and limp. And I started suffering from serious gastric disorders that see me want to chunder all day long. No matter what I ate I would feel ill, worse than just IBS or the wheat intolerance I’d suffered from before. No this was something more … I assumed it was to do with the recent legionnaires’ (bacterial pneumonia) outbreak in our apartment complex, or a bacterial infection from the Tupperware reusable water bottles I carried my water in daily, despite cleaning them thoroughly with disinfectant.

Every morning I wake tired, no matter how much I’d slept. I no longer felt energised like I had after a good nap. Instead often my day would start with an intense headache, despite drinking lots of water. My cravings for sugar and salt were bordering on overwhelming and were quite uncontrollable.

I needed to do something about it. I needed to change my life. I started taking Yakkult every morning on an empty stomach to help rebalance my intestines. And a week later I switched to a predominately paleo diet … paleo is designed to reduce the level of toxins and stress on the body by replicating the ‘cave man’ style diet of raw and lightly cooked ingredients, with a high proportion of vegetables and fruits, meats and nuts but no dairy, grains or sugars.

Yesterday, after consulting Dr. Google (especially the Mayo Clinic and the Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel) and doing a considerable amount of research it seemed I have all the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. All of them, every day, with the exception of a sore throat.

Most commonly affecting 40and50-somethings, and women 2 to 1, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a complex medical condition of unknown origin which affects the hormones and the gastrointestinal region, being closely associated with food intolerances, IBS and bloating.

With no test a formal diagnosis cannot be made until symptoms have been experienced for 6 months or more, and all other possible diagnoses have been tested and ruled out … that’s a lot of waiting and a lot of tests (did I mention a lot of money too?) I don’t want to wait that long to get better so CFS, for the time being, is where I can hang my hat while I work on my recovery.

Now I know that self-diagnosis can get people into all sorts of trouble. But my hit rate on my own diagnosis has historically been spot on. I’m not prone to manifesting dis-ease of the body, in fact quite the contrary. But my maths-science background and need to resolve any hurdle means I need to know what I’m dealing with so I can, in fact, deal with it, recover and move on, onwards and upwards.

With symptoms commonly fluctuating over short periods of time, even from hour to hour, in many cases CFS occurs after a viral or bacterial infection, possibly triggering a latent virus (similar to the way shingles lays dormant in most people). Just over a month ago there was a legionnaires’ (bacterial pneumonia) outbreak in our apartment complex, which wasn’t managed well. Just prior to that outbreak I had suffered from bronchial pneumonia and influenza for 6 weeks that nearly saw me hospitalised. With a weakened immune system and possibly exposed to legionnaires’ coupled with extreme physical and mental stress, well it wasn’t surprising that my body gave out again, this time in the form of CFS.

What is interesting is the link between paleo diets and CFS … during my research yesterday I discovered that the number one dietary treatment for CFS is to follow a paleo diet. Other natural remedies include acupuncture, massage, yoga and tai chi, and lots of guilt-free sleep. And also, to keep stress levels to a minimum (not sure how you can do that when you can’t get much done at all and it mounts up!)

So it looks like my decision to change to a paleo diet on the weekend might be “just what the doctor ordered”. And whilst Dr. Google has provided a probable diagnosis for the time being, I do need to go to my doctor and get a full medical diagnosis and all other possible ailments (like Lyme disease) ruled out.

Until then I’m focussing on my health, eating right the paleo way, not overdoing it and getting plenty of rest.