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Chronic fatigue (personal blog)

Chronic fatigue is pertinent to this site insofar as it has had a huge effect on my work and has been the major limitation to my maintaining the site properly.  I am in the process of rectifying the site maintenance.  Possibly a brief outline of my history with fatigue will help others who may have it.

I first noticed that I had chronic fatigue in late 2009 when I stood up after eating breakfast and immediately felt like I had been hit by a train.  Doctors were particularly unhelpful in telling me that there was no such thing as chronic fatigue.  They nevertheless referred me to all sorts of tests, none of which showed anything.  I could stagger in to work and didn't so much have trouble in doing the work as I did in allocating my time and priorities.  Allocating time and priorities sounds easy to fix but it was not.  It was a crisis and I was very unproductive for the duration of it.

Immediate causes several months prior to the fatigue were physical stress (lack of sleep finishing my PhD), emotional stress (work-related dispute) and a very nasty and long-lasting virus.  In late 2010 my parents both died and my work moved to a new building with chemical fumes that affected me very badly.  In early 2011 my parents' cat whom I had adopted was killed crossing the road.

In mid-2011 I discussed my fatigue with my friend Marc who used to practise as a naturopath.  He suggested that gluten (more specifically gliadin, the water-soluble component of gluten) was a major contributor to fatigue.  Sure enough, he turned out to be correct and I began to improve after going off it.  Another friend put me onto a water-soluble mineral supplement that worked wonders, albeit at a much smaller dose than the recommended one.  There was still a long journey ahead but I was on the way to full health and energy levels.  In early 2012 I relocated to another work building, forced by nosebleeds.  I hadn't associated the building with my fatigue, but the fatigue lessened dramatically immediately after I moved.  Many other foods also produced fatigue reactions.  These were very difficult to diagnose because there was sometimes a time lag of up to two days between eating the food and getting the reaction.  It turned out that in addition to gluten I was getting fatigue from many brewed liquids (soy sauce, even gluten free, beer and wine), most fruits and cashew nuts.

Four years after beginning the recovery I can claim to be fully recovered and to have more energy than I have ever had before.  I actually had the fatigue all my life before it became chronic.  My diet is less restrictive than one might fear.  I can eat foods containing wheat flour if they are hard-baked (pizza, hard biscuits, pies, some bread).  Somehow baking chemically changes the gluten in wheat and renders it safe for me to eat.  I can eat some fruits (strawberries, stone fruits, persimmons, pomegranites and grapes) and drink English, New Zealand and Italian beers, along with a few beers from other countries, Yanjing (Chinese), Guinness (Irish) and Corona (Mexican).  The few Australian beers that I can drink are very expensive and not as good as the imports.  Despite the famed German purity laws there is no German beer that I can drink.

I will be a while picking up the pieces of what didn't get done while I had the fatigue.  Many friends and international colleagues I haven't contacted for years,and there's a huge backlog of work to write up.  My major memory of my time with fatigue is that I can't remember it!  It must have been so horrible that the mind has suppressed it and left me with a memory of what happened but no memory of what life was like during that time.  I have been one of the lucky chronic fatigue sufferers in that I was still able to turn up to work.  Still it is not something that I would wish on anybody.

Bear with me and I will gradually clear the backlog of things that need to be done!

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