There and Back Again - My CFS/Fibromyalgia Experience and How I Recovered
1975 was a bitch! I was in my third year of medical school, supporting myself working as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse in the Children's Hospital. And this was the easy part of my life. My family, made up largely of concentration camp survivors from Auschwitz, was going through an emotional meltdown. As is often the case with people with CFS/FMS, I was and am pretty empathic, making me the "family problem solver." Putting myself in the middle of this battle was like getting between a group of fighting drunks, and I got emotionally pounded to death. Like the sitcoms on TV, my uncle literally had a heart attack in my apartment while trying to convince me to manipulate my cousins, and he landed in the intensive care unit.
In this context, I came down with a very severe viral infection. Although they couldn't identify the specific virus, the blood testing showed severe changes. Six weeks later, when they felt that I should be fully recovered, I was still disabled and nonfunctional. My professors were very sympathetic, but after a while presumed that I must have "depressed med student disease." My being brain fogged and disabled continued for months, and I finally had to drop out of medical school. As my father had died years before and I was paying my own way and could not work or keep my student loans or scholarship, this also meant that I was homeless.
Being homeless wasn't the worst of it. My whole life had been geared to being a physician and healer. With this destroyed by my illness, I suddenly was left with no purpose. For a while, I lived out of my old Dodge Dart, which broke down and was towed away by the police. After that I was sleeping in parks, and ate when people were kind enough to feed me. The people I met in Tulsa during this time were incredibly loving and gracious.
But something else happened. Something unexpected. It was as if the universe had put a "Homeless Medical School" sign on my park bench. Healers of many backgrounds, physicians, naturopaths, herbalists, energy workers, and countless others would come by and sit with me. We would talk and they would offer me their perspective on my illness.
I was able to put together an integrated treatment protocol from these numerous different practitioners. In doing so, I was able to recover from my CFS/fibromyalgia. I had no idea that returning to medical school was even possible, but I found out that it was. I was able to return, and do very well.
But I never forgot my experience, and the numerous lessons that I learned while living on a park bench.
I'm a science geek, and as a physician I have reviewed tens of thousands of studies. I've found that the realities of our current medical monopoly severely and unjustly limits the information physicians are able to get, basically feeding them slick advertising that masquerades as science. It's unfortunate, but most physicians are unaware of many treatments that can help people for the simple reason that they aren't profitable. And they don't even know that they don't know.
I have spent the past 40 years effectively treating thousands of people with CFS and fibromyalgia, getting the information to countless others, and training numerous health practitioners. We've also published four studies on effective treatment of CFS and fibromyalgia, including a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study that showed that the protocol discussed below resulted in 90% of people improving with an average 91% increase in quality of life (p<.0001 vs placebo). We call the treatment the S.H.I.N.E.® Protocol, which optimizes:
Exercise as able
I will be doing a series on how to get from where you are to getting your life back. I'll begin with an overview article on each of the five areas above. We'll then go into more depth in each area. For example, sleep issues include not only natural and prescription approaches to help sleep, but also treating sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, nasal congestion and upper airway resistance syndrome.
Basically, I'll make you an expert so you can get yourself well. And I'll point you to the tools and resources that can help you as well.
The S.H.I.N.E.® Protocol combines the best of natural and pharmaceutical treatments. Put simply, the cost of a treatment bears NO relationship to its effectiveness. It only impacts how likely you are to hear about it in advertising and promotion. So don't worry if some of the treatments we recommend are not an option for you financially. We will also be discussing low-cost alternatives, and how the overall treatment protocol can be done at very low cost.
So here are a few tools to help you begin:
Finding a Physician
Although I do phone consultations with people from all over the world (410-573-5389 or email@example.com), many people simply can't afford this. To find a local physician who is more likely to be familiar with CFS and fibromyalgia, find one that is holistically trained. There are over 2,000 of them out there. Begin by searching my online CFS/Fibromyalgia Practitioner Referral List. If you don't find a practitioner near you from that, try visiting the ABIHM website.
Sadly, insurance will not cover holistic treatments or the time needed to properly take care of these illnesses, meaning that most holistic physicians will not participate with any health insurance, making this not an option for many people. There is help though. Our goal has been to make effective treatment available for everyone. So here's another tool that can help you.
The Energy Analysis Program
Basically, what is needed to help people get their lives back is to optimize energy using S.H.I.N.E.®. I created a computer program based on S.H.I.N.E.® that I used when I treated people, and it helped me in evaluating their symptoms and lab testing. Though designing the complex system burnt out three computer programmers over three years, it was eventually completed and I made it available online. I actually hold the US patent for a "computerized physician," which I invented specifically for people with CFS and fibromyalgia. Initially, we charged people $400 to use it, but told people that if they couldn't afford it, they could do it for free. Over 80% of the people who wanted to use it had disabilities that put them into this category. So I've since decided to make the program available free for everyone. Called the "Energy Analysis Program," it's an online tool that analyzes key factors that impact your energy level. It pinpoints probable factors that may be contributing to your fatigue, and then gives you lifestyle, dietary and other recommendations on how you may improve your energy and feel greater well-being.
Watch My Lecture
For an overview of treating the illness, watch the video below of a lecture on CFS and fibromyalgia that I gave to several hundred physicians at their board review course.
Read My BookI invite you to read my book, The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, if you would like an "easy reading" overview. If you want more detail and the study references, I recommend reading my more technically detailed book From Fatigued to Fantastic!
In the coming weeks I'll be posting additional articles to guide you on the specifics you need to reclaim your health. I'll begin with an overview of each of the S.H.I.N.E.® components, and then go into key topics in detail. I invite you to join me in this journey of recovery.
Love and blessings,
P.S. — Please share this article with your friends so they can also get their lives back. And to make sure you receive all of the blog posts and articles on this topic, be sure to sign up for my free newsletter.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.