I am at week 11 and silly me thought I could go out for the day and get some things done/attend to responsibilities (remember I have no choice-I have no support). Anyway I forced myself to get up early 7:30 on Saturday, (I usually sleep until 9:30-10:30, 10 to 12 hours)and had a full day (not like what I would consider a full day prior to CFS), came home exhausted and today I look a feel like a disaster, of course swollen glands too. I really feel that unless you are in a nurturing environment and can rely on others to take on tasks and responsibilities that you would normally need to do in a normal functioning life, that you will never get well, no matter what you take. Please convince me otherwise, because I have no alternatives. As some background on myself, this illness started(5.5 years ago at 41) and this is what I was like before the illness: My entire life I have been a high energy, highly motivated, spontaneous, driven, athletic, ambitious, spirited person who craved energy, ideas, problem solving, and most of all getting up early in the morning to start the day. Professionally, I was an over achiever and I always love to work long and hard, great at multi-tasking and was very successful in the work environment (a bit of a workaholic). I am educated with an MBA and I have achieved because of my innate energy, enthusiasm and an inner voice that told me I could accomplish almost anything I put my mind to. Physically I looked very good, fit and felt very strong and healthy. I did many athletics such as run, bike, tennis, ski, equestrian riding, work out at the gym, always kept fit, enjoyed meeting new people, going out socially and always cared for and extended myself to others in all aspects of my life. In order to do such things my day usually started at 6:30/7:00am and ended at 11:00pm and I felt great and could not wait to wake up again the next day and start all over. My family and personal relationships have never been at par with the other aspects of my life but I never allowed that to drag me down. I have encountered many difficulties in my life prior to my illness such as a terminally ill father, who died when I was in my twenties, in my late thirties I was married and divorced in a short period of time (never had children. Professionally, (although I was successful at the many careers/positions I held), I did attended the school of hard knocks to get there. My point is, prior to my illness, because of my energy and attitude; I always endured these difficult times. Therefore, stress alone is not the culprit for CFS, stress over a long period of time, definitely helps foster CFS. Now I will tell you what has happened to me beginning in September 2001. I feel it began as a result of finally getting very worn out from no down time, frequent job travel, ongoing stress from job, family and personal relationships, helping everyone else, with no one to look after me at the end of the day, care for me and encourage me to take it easy. I began getting sick all of the time with strep throat, swollen glands, fever, bronchitis, and colds but still did not take time off to rest. As time went on, this became chronic. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with MONO/Epstein Barr Virus and was told to rest, but I did not because my position/job did not foster my taking care of myself and everyone saw me as invincible. In December 2001, I did a very stupid thing and got a flue shot. As months went on, I started to feel very physically tired, my entire being was fatigued and I had to sleep at least 10 to 12 hours a day and still force myself to get up. I felt like I was in a Coma and even after waking up I was still so mentally and physically fatigued. When I tried to exert myself physically, my body felt so heavy I could not exercise. Although I started to sleep more, people at work and family were always telling me how tired I looked and that I looked very unhealthy/sickly. Every night when I went to sleep I believed I would be back to feeling normal the next day. Since this was not the case, throughout the year 2002, I proceeded to go to more doctors and had all kinds of blood tests done but they could not find anything wrong in the blood tests. By January 2003, I stopped working/left my job, but I felt this was a good thing because it would allow me to take as much time as I needed to take care of myself to get better. I was convinced that at the most I would be back to normal in a year and this would just be another episode in my life that I would endure and get through. As time went on I got worse (more mentally and physically fatigued) even though I had stopped working. I was still sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day, did very little exercise (now I do none), did not exert or push myself to do anything that I was not up to, could not at all make decisions. I was always in a mental fog especially if I needed to think something through, read or make a choice/decision about something. I barely had the energy to take a shower, dry my hair, get dressed, make coffee or cook, go to the supermarket, talk, lift my arms, move my legs, read, drive, and I lost my cognitive aptitude (now count on my fingers most of the time and can't spell, drop things all the time, bang into things, mix things up, can't logically organize, lose items etc.). All of the things that use to make me feel good or gave me energy or an adrenaline rush now did the opposite. The only thing I felt I could do was to sit on the couch and watch TV. Over these years, I have been to every type of doctor(s) in hopes of some type of resolve such as Internist, Infectious Disease, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Neurologists, Hematologist, Acupuncture, Chiropractor, Naturopath, Nutritionist and I have been on every supplement, herb, remedy, diet, thyroid hormone, (now female hormones) most antidepressants, took tons of tests and received no hope or resolve. I just seem to get worse with less intermittent periods of feeling good and/or none of these practitioners seem to care or believe that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Chronic Epstein Barr Virus is a real illness. They made you feel worse by either giving you false hopes in an effort to selling you all sorts of stuff until they have sucked up your money, or they push you off to the next doctor because they don’t want to deal with it, but most often they tell you that your are chronically depressed and you need to take high levels or multiple antidepressants, which for me is the most insulting of all. Yet when you provide them with research, studies or information on this subject with treatment protocols that have been used, whereby results have been noted, they will not even read the data or research and insist that it is not credible. During these past 5+ years, everything I described myself as above is the complete opposite of what I am now. I have completely lost my authentic self as a result of this illness, especially since I don’t have the cognitive aptitude or energy that I once had to help myself. Over the years, I felt better for a week or so and I was so excited because I thought I had beat this horrible illness and then it is as if the energy you exerted because you were happy is enough energy to destroy you again. It does not matter what type of energy you exert, positive, negative, talking, thinking, physical or mental; any energy or output, stress or decision-making is toxic to someone suffering from this illness. The other irony of this illness, because of its vagueness, lack of medical acceptance and overall understanding and awareness, is when you do make yourself do things, people think you are not ill and feel you are making it up and yet when you don’t do anything they think you are just not trying hard enough to get better. Also, since I do not look as tired as I use to since I sleep and rest as much as I need, people think you are fine. Yet, if I dare to get out of bed before 9:00am or perform more than one task in a day, I will be non functional for the next week or two or I will get sick. No one cares or understands because outwardly you are not dying, but internally you really are because you are so limited physically, mentally and emotionally, in every aspect of your life. My life has completely changed since stricken with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have a hard time remembering the person I use to be and whom I so admired. I have never been able to go back to work and have been living off of my hard earned savings/net egg. Terrifying, that is why I must get better. I can't imagine hope for another male relationship. No one wants to hear about my illness or feelings, they just want me back to the person I was. Since, I have no real support system (except my animals?) I am very lonely and of course depressed as a result of this and the way my life has now turned out. What has kept and keeps me going is that I have the horses, which for the first few years of this illness, I still try to ride as much as possible or just spend time with them. But as of mid 2006 (as with everything else, this disease has now negatively affected the last thing (riding) which I managed to receive limited enjoyment from and utilize as a temporary escape from my illness. I am struggling to keep and maintain them since it is financially draining me in the long run, and now I have been unable to ride due to the severe fatigue. I also have a beautiful dog that gives me love in spite of my illness. I fight to prevent this illness of striping me of everything. This all takes energy, but they are my responsibility and I cherish what they have given back to me at the expense of this illness. They give me a reason to keep trying and a reminder of what I was once capable of. Anyway I did not mean to bore you with my story. I just wanted you to know what I was like (before versus after CFS)so as I hopefully continue on with my Valcyte treatment, you can anticipate the range of where I hope to be with respect to recovery or how I will measure my recovery. Right now at week 11, I am nowhere close, although others who are completely bedridden may think I am far. It is all relative to your life and day to day survival.