MY JOURNEY WITH CFIDS
I had led a very active lifestyle up until December 1998. At 27 years of age I had completed my Bachelor of Commerce, Masters of Commerce and CPA Qualifications. I had also been accepted into Australia's most prestigious MBA programme. I had worked hard during the early part of my career and had risen to the level of Finance Manager for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world happily working up to 13 hours per day whilst earning a six figure salary.
From a worldly point of view I was considered to "have it all". Good health, a good career, good relationships with family and friends and the support of my local church community. It was towards the end of December 1998 that things changed. Just before Christmas I suffered from a severe viral infection which laid me up in bed for a week. I felt like I was near death's door. Although I recovered from that infection I started to experience a "brain fog" over the next couple of days. I clearly remember travelling to my sister's house for Christmas dinner and feeling totally disorientated. I couldn't concentrate properly or share in the joy of Christmas with my family because I felt so displaced from what was going on around me. I just put it down to a post viral infection and assumed that it would soon go away and I could return to normal activities again. How wrong I was.
Over the next couple of weeks the "brain fog" continued to get worse and was followed with tingling hands and feet, recurrent sore throats, flu-like symptoms, difficulty in swallowing and fatigue. My friends , family and work colleagues were all commenting on how pale I looked and how much weight I had lost. I decided one evening to buy myself a set of scales and measure my weight. Prior to my illness I had been working out at the gym three nights per week and had managed to lose a fair bit of weight and convert it to muscle. I was happy with the 80kg I was carrying. That night the reality of my illness set in. I had dropped since my last measurement at the gym to 69kg. A drop of over 10kg. My mother had even commented on the muscle tone that I had lost.
I then decided to get some medical help. After numerous haematological and neurological tests I was certified as "being fine". The specialists told me it was just a viral infection and that it would soon pass. One neurologist even suggested that I spend some time at the gym to destress (this advice really made me laugh). I knew however that I was very far from fine. My work and social lives were being drastically affected and I was still experiencing the symptoms.
I decided to take 4 weeks off from work in an endeavour to recover. Fully expecting to be back to 100% capacity during this period of rest. The first day of my break was probably the worst. My vision started to deteriorate. Over that next week I was unable to drive due to my inability to focus on moving objects. Everything was moving too quickly. I felt devastated. "Why Lord." "Why me." What is happening I questioned over and over again? I felt like my life was being slowly destroyed. Again I packed myself off to the doctor and she ordered numerous tests again only to show that nothing was abnormal.
I then started to share my illness with others that I knew. The name Chronic Fatigue was eventually mentioned. I brushed this off totally. I can't have Chronic Fatigue, I thought to myself. That's a weak person's illness. An excuse to slacken off. An excuse for those that can't make something of themselves. I firmly believed it didn't exist and if it did it was merely some form of masked depression.
I started to do some analysing on the Internet. I soon started to realise that the symptoms that people with Chronic Fatigue were experiencing were exactly the same symptoms I was experiencing. It was then that I found the site for Bioscreen (the Newcastle University research laboratory for CFIDS). I decided to send my urine and blood samples for analysis. I patiently waited two weeks for the tests to come back and it was confirmed that I did have CFIDS.
Over this period of time I had already decided that it was necessary to resign from my job. Even 4 weeks of rest hadn't helped one bit. I had used up all my sick and annual leave and was not able to return as my former self. It was one of the most depressing days of my life when I handed in my resignation. Although work was extremely accommodating, and had offered to employ me as a consultant 2 days per week, I was still depressed However I knew that with God's help I would get through this illness and eventually conquer it. It was slowly changing my attitude to life and how my thinking had always been based around material and personal success. That was being taken away from me bit by bit. Without my faith, friends and family I really don't know how I would have survived.
Once the Bioscreen results had come back I searched the internet for anything and everything on CFIDS. It was only by accident, or divine intervention, that I found Dr Petrovic's site. Initially I was extremely sceptical. My accounting mind and knowledge of fraudulent schemes rang alarm bells. It sounded too good to be true. And testimonials, well I thought that marketing technique had gone out years ago.
Just as I was about to leave the site, the words "Bioscreen test" jumped out from the screen. I went to that link and found out that some individuals had been diagnosed with CFIDS by Bioscreen prior to the protocol and were now clear from CFIDS after taking the protocol. I was excited but also cautious. I then endeavoured to collect as much information about this individual as possible.
I contacted Dr Hugh Dunstan from Bioscreen to confirm some of the claims made by Dr Petrovic (which all proved to be true), posted for information about the protocol to various CFIDS sites, obtained information from Roy Collins and Dr Petrovic himself.
In May 1999 I eventually decided to order the protocol. After transferring the funds to Dr Petrovic I anxiously waited for my package to arrive. Using the airways tracking bill number I think I must have rung Skynet Express Couriers 4 times to check on the status of my package.
Well the package finally arrived, and boy was it massive, and I started taking my tablets. My initial progress was extremely encouraging as I started to regain some energy, felt less tired and some of my CFIDS symptoms disappeared within the first week. I fully believed that I was on the road to recovery and would be well again within a month. However disappointment soon set in as I spiralled downwards towards the "abyss" once again. My symptoms became worse after an initial upsurge and it was only through the support of friends, Dr Petrovic, Laura Mowell and Roy Collins that I mustered the courage to keep going on and trusting that the protocol would eventually work on me.
After being on the protocol for a month I decided to send away for further Bioscreen testing to analyse the effect that the protocol was having on my body. I anxiously awaited the test results as I was honestly getting much worse. I felt tired, fluey and discouraged for about two weeks. I wondered whether the protocol was working and if something else might have been wrong with me.
The results arrived on a Friday, three weeks after submitting my urine for analysis, and they showed a marked improvement in my condition. My fibrillar/non fibrillar catabolism had dramatically reduced, the three fatigue/pain types had reduced (one had actually disappeared) and the Urea P5C Cycle was also reduced. The beta alanine pattern had increased and was something that I needed to have reduced before I could claim to be free from CFIDS. I felt much encouragement from this and knew that the protocol must be working for me. It was possible that I was experiencing my major interleukin crisis (Dr Petrovic and others had warned me about it) and that it was all part of getting better.
On Wednesday the 28th July 1999 I went in for my sinus operation as I also had chronic sinusitis in conjunction with CFIDS. I believed that this could be contributing to some of my problems and was certainly not a healthy condition to be in. After my operation I suffered another major setback and wondered whether I would ever get better again.
Months later and many pills later I have slowly regained most of that which I had lost months earlier. I very rarely suffer from severe fatigue (except when I overdo things), am consulting to a large consumer products company, enjoy an active social life whilst learning to pace myself during this period of recovery. My Bioscreen reports continue to show an improvement in my condition and provides Dr Petrovic with scientific evidence to support his protocol.
Dr Petrovic has given back to me a quality of life that I had lost as a result of my illness. I am truly grateful for the time, advice and support that he has provided during the many months of my treatment. Times of victory and times of what appeared to be defeat. I look forward to continuing my relationship with Dr Petrovic and trust that his programme can offer the same hope to others that it has to me.