Neurasthenia, a condition the symptoms of which were fatigue, pain, anxiety and negative affects is traceable to the late 1800s (Beared, 1869).
Myalgic encephalomyelitis, was not recorded until the Lancet article by Bond in 1956, refering to a viral-type epidemic within the Royal Free Hospital in North London, the previous year.
It wasn’t until 1988, when a group of experts were asked to review the evidence by Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) in Georgia,USA and the name Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was recommended to replace Myalgic encephalomyelitis,chronic Epstein-Barr virus and other post viral fatigue syndromes. Minor complaints associated this new classification such as cognitive impairment, sore throat, tender cervical or axillary lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain, headaches,unrefreshing sleep – patients had to have at least four of these to get the classification.
Lack of understanding and support has continued to present day with theories that an initial trigger begins the illness but can not account for the chronic nature of the condition. An area of research continues to focus on whether ME/CFS is caused by an acute viral infection. Janet has lived with ME for a number of years, she thought she had caught a virus, from which she was unable to recover. But admits trauma has also played a part in her life, which could be looked upon as an inital triggering factor. A breakdown in her immune system followed with intolerances to food and chemicals.
Diet played an important part in her recovery, which she maintains to this day. She told us she found walking difficult for nearly two years and that it felt like she was walking on pins. Recovery is a painful process with joint pain and stiffness being much worse than the feeling of constant fatigue.
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