By David Emanuel Staff Writer Bowie Blade News Thursday, May 18, 2006 Imagine living with a disease that leaves you wondering from one day to the next if you can even walk again. Imagine being in pain, be it mild or sharp, pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Imagine being tired all the time and thinking just few hours of sleep is a blessing. That's what 47 year old Kathy Winger lives with daily, and there are millions of others like her. She suffers from a combination of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, diseased recently deemed "real", as Winger said. Chronic fatigue Syndrome is a debilitation conditioncharacterized by severe fatigue and profound exhaustion that cannot be explainedby and underlying medical condition. The fatigue in CFS is extreme and bears no relation to the fatigue a healthy person feesl as the result of a busy life. People with CFS also have poor stamina and find that normal daily activities, such as showering or making the bed,can cause exhaustion and breathlessness. Fibromyalgia is chaacterized by severe musculoskeletal pain, and often this disease and CFS go hand-in-hand. Fibromyalgia is also an illness that involves every part of the body, and has many other symptoms as well, that may include impaired memory or conecntration, sore throat, muscle pain, nausea, insomnia and neurological symptoms. Recovery from CFS and fibromyalgia are not guaranteed. Some people will have the condition for the rest of their lives, some become completely disabled, housebound or bedridden. "I've gone from doctor to doctor and many of them still don't acknowledge these (diseases), she said. Winger said she's not sure when in her life the diseases actualy started (it is often difficult to determine), but it's certanly been in Winger's life for quite a lomg time, since she was in her 20's. Sometimes called the "Yuppie Flu" (and those suffering from this hate the term, said Winger), CFS is far from being a disease that leaves you tired and overworked. "Not everything hurts every day, but something does," she said. "The pain moves. One day it's in your foot, the next it might be in your arms. When I get up every morning, I ask. 'Well, what's gonna hurt today?'" Friday [May 12] was Chronic Fatige Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, and Winger hopes mpre people become educated that this is a real and dibilitaing disease. "There are still a lot of doctors out there who don't understand it, and just chalk it up to depression," she said. "Many stillsay it's all in our head. But there is testimony out there form millions of people suffering from from this who will tell you otherwise. They'll tell you its not a matter of having to exercise ot lose weight. And as for depression, that is a secondary symptom. It is a result of having CFS that a person gets depressed, not the other way around." Winger takes 32 pills to get her through the day. They help, she said, and on some days she doesn't have to take some of the pills, others, she may take them all. "A good day for me is what it feels like for you when might have the flu," she said. Just kind of tired and drained. Some day I suffer from a migrain. Other days my lims just hurt." So how does she cope every day? "You kind of mentally find a way to block it all out, and you have to surround yourself with people who support you. I don't know what I'd do without my husband, who's been so helpful and supportive through all of this," she said. And you have to have a sense of humor about it. You have somehow keep a bright outlook." Winger said she knows people who have committed suicide over this. "You just have to be secure enough in the knowledge that there are some treatments, and maybe someday, a cure." she said. it hasn't been determined whether this is a genetic disease or not. "I don't want this disease to take my life away from me," she said. "Istay involved in things. I have my limits, and I accept them. I do what I can dol I realize, for example, I'll never play volleyball. I can ('t sic) be a judge." Winger said the most important thing people need to understand about CFS snd fibromyalgia is that the people suffering from them aren't lazy. "We aren't lazy. We aren't slackers," she said. "We are sick!