My Hope - The Story of Laura A. Mowell's recovery and cure. - May 2000 - A touching testimonial from Laura Mowell
“…Days of affliction have seized me. At night it pierces my bones within me and my gnawing pains take no rest.” Job 30:16-17
Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS). At first I didn't even realize I had it, much less understand what it was. In looking back, I see now that I had symptoms as early as college (1986) but had no idea that they were in any way connected to CFIDS. In 1990 many of my symptoms became more prevalent, but it was not until I was diagnosed in 1995 that I finally realized that I had CFIDS.
Most people do not understand the magnitude of CFIDS. They think it just means you are tired a lot. But there are some 50+ symptoms that are related to CFIDS, some being more common than others. I'll share just some of the symptoms I personally experienced: total exhaustion, low-grade fever, headaches, light-headedness, cognitive function problems, concentration difficulties, memory loss, coordination difficulties, calculation difficulties, depression, anxiety, mood swings, visual disturbances, earache, equilibrium problems, sore throat, enlarged/painful lymph nodes, digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (diarrhea), numbness/tingling in the muscles, joint pain, muscle aches, muscle weakness, leg cramps, backaches, sleeping too much, not sleeping restfully, horrible nightmares, feeling exhausted when I woke up, nausea, dizziness, cold and flu symptoms, night sweats, low blood pressure, etc. I once heard it said that having chronic fatigue is like having the flu, a head injury and a hangover all at the same time. I've never had a hangover, but I've had the others and this is a pretty accurate description.
There were days that I could not get out of bed because my body hurt so badly. There were also days that I could barely get to work (late) and it would take me hours to do tasks that used to take me minutes to accomplish. I had IBS every day for months until I was becoming dehydrated. On more than one occasion I would go somewhere and have to call my parents to ask them why I was there or how to get home. I could not go into a place alone that I was not familiar with because I would get too confused and frustrated because I didn't know the layout and couldn't find things. I drove places and never remember getting there. I nearly fell asleep at the wheel on several occasions. Flying wracked my body with pain. I would get off the plane and just ache for hours afterward. There were times that I was on travel for my job that I would just completely collapse at the end of the day in my room and be sick all night. Then, when I would return home, it would take weeks for me to recover from the traveling and time zone changes – and I never did completely. I was on business at a contractor's facility one time and was walking down the hall and literally lost my vision and equilibrium/balance and walked into a wall and collapsed onto the floor. I could not even fly home that evening because I could not drive myself to the airport. It was awful!
All this time I didn't know what was the matter and I kept fighting to control my body and kept telling myself to push harder and that I was lazy and was just imagining some of the symptoms. Looking back now, I know I was in denial about how sick I really was. Even though I was sick, I refused to believe that I couldn't control my body and make it do what I wanted. And at the same time, I didn't want to let anyone know how sick I really was. To this day I think there are people that know me that will never really know how sick I was unless they read this. In retrospect, I don't know how I even accomplished the things I did except for the constant support and care of my parents. They did everything they could for me and that's why I was able to continue to work. Otherwise, I would have surely had to go on disability, which I didn't want to do.
I went to doctor after doctor and they treated some of the symptoms, only to make the symptom better for a short while until it came back, each time getting worse. But they were never treating the illness. Once I was told I was just depressed and was put on an anti-depressant. It seemed to help my mood swings a little for about a year, then all of a sudden I became extremely suicidal and I had to quit taking that. In mid-1995 one doctor finally told me he thought I probably had Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome and Fibromyalgia (a painful muscular condition) because he'd ruled out everything else. That was how I was diagnosed – by process of elimination. He then told me that there was nothing that could be done medically to help me (except possibly anti-depressants – and I wasn't going that route again) and that I must just learn to live with my condition. I finally gave up on doctors and Mom started doing many hours of research on natural products for me. If you can name it, I have probably tried it. Some things seemed to help for a while, then the symptoms would return with a vengance. Other things never helped at all.
“My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and come to an end without hope.” Job 7:6
I really believed that I was losing both my body and my mind. I cried because I could remember when I could do things so easily and think so clearly and I truly believed that I had lost my cognitive abilities forever. Everything was such a struggle and I hated myself for that. As a result, without even realizing it, I took out my frustrations on my parents and friends by saying horrible and hurtful things that I didn't even mean or want to say. In spite of my faith in God, my parents' constant support and reassurance, and the support of my close and faithful friends, there were days I begged God to take my life from me because I truly believed I was a burden to everyone and of no value to anyone. I didn't believe God could use me as long as I was sick and that my life was meaningless. This illness had taken over my mind and warped my perception of everything and I didn't even realize it at the time. I truly believed there was no hope for me. Hopelessness is a horrible empty feeling that is self-destructive.
“And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
During the summer of 1998 my parents and I attended a Bible study about the grace of God. That study really hit home with me. I finally realized that regardless of my physical or mental condition, how I felt about myself or what I perceived as my worth, I was of value to God. It was then that I decided if I were supposed to live with this illness that God had allowed this for a reason and that He was in complete control and would use this for His glory somehow even if I couldn't see it. I also knew His word promises He would not give me more than I could bear. I decided right then and there that I would be the best sick person for God that I could. I finally realized that I really had worth and I trusted that God would use this illness to teach me and grow me in Him. I also finally truly realized how very much my parents love me and also how much I mean to them regardless of my physical condition.
I was not any better physically, but I finally had some peace within. It was about that time my family found out about a doctor that was purported to have cured people of CFIDS.
“Therefore they were saying to him, 'How then were your eyes opened?' He answered, 'The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam, and wash;” so I went away and washed, and I received sight.'” John 9:10-11
A friend of our family from a church we used to attend told my parents that she knew of a woman in Canada that had suffered from CFIDS so badly that she was bed ridden. Her doctors had termed her a “living vegetable”. She had heard that there was a doctor that was really helping this woman and that the woman was starting to recover after years of being sick. She gave my parents the phone number and my father called and spoke to her husband. He confirmed that they had found a medical doctor in South Africa that was actually helping his wife. The more interesting side of this was that he was using only natural supplements to help this woman and she was responding. The doctor's name was Dr. Neboysa “Nash” Petrovic, M. D. My father then contacted the Dr. Petrovic to inquire about his program. Dr. Petrovic explained that his “protocol” was made up of antioxidants and micronutrients in tablet or capsular form tailored to the individual based on their symptoms. He further explained that the protocol was completely nontoxic and safe for human consumption. He also said that the treatment included a special eating regimen designed to maximize the macronutrients absorbed by the body to work with the protocol. He also told him that his success rate for recovery was 100%. My parents told me about Dr. Petrovic and his treatment and, naturally, I was skeptical. After all, I had tried antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc., and they had helped somewhat, but I was still sick. And how could I trust some doctor in a foreign country to know my condition and treat me. The initial step was to fill out a questionnaire about my symptoms and fax it to Dr. Petrovic for his assessment. I took the questionnaire but set it aside, never filling it out.
In October, I had a business trip to Hawaii. I flew out a few days ahead of my business because I knew it would take several days for me to adjust to the time change and be ready for work. When Dr. Petrovic heard I was going to Hawaii, he sent my father the name and phone of a woman in Hawaii whose daughter had been sick with CFIDS and had taken his protocol and had recovered. So I decided to call her and see what she had to say. She told me how her daughter had missed much of high school because she was bedridden with CFIDS. She then told me how she found out about Dr. Petrovic via the internet and how her daughter had just completed one year of his protocol and was completely back to the way she had been before she became so sick. She encouraged me to submit the questionnaire and take the protocol. She said, “with Dr. Petrovic, recovery is the rule rather than the exception.” For the first time in many years, I finally had some hope.
By the time I returned home from Hawaii, my parents had also spoken to some other patients and I filled out the questionnaire and Dad sent it to Dr. Petrovic for me. Dr. Petrovic responded that he considered me to be a candidate for the protocol. Dad ordered my protocol the first week of November. From that time until I the day I received my package seemed like an eternity. There were delays in the delivery of the protocol for various reasons but finally on 30 November 1998 (my Mom's birthday) Airborne Express pulled in the driveway with a large heavy package. I immediately opened it to see a mass of capsules and tablets. I wondered how I would ever take all of them, but decided I would do it no matter what if it meant feeling better. The pills were all packaged and labeled appropriately so all I had to do was take them as directed by the doctor. My parents took pictures of me taking the first package as I was full of hope of the prospect of finally getting my health back.
One thing I noticed within the first week of taking the protocol was that my irritable bowel syndrome went away almost immediately. After that though, for the first month, I didn't really notice any changes. Then around the holidays, I started feeling bad – really bad. What I hadn't realized was that on the protocol I might feel worse before I felt better because my body was readjusting after 13+ years of being ill. During the 2nd and 3rd months of the protocol, my CFIDS symptoms seemed to be worse than they had ever been the whole time I was sick. I was afraid that the protocol wasn't working and that I was getting worse instead of better. I though I was the exception to the rule and that the protocol was making me have CFIDS worse than ever. I kept emailing Dr. Petrovic and telling him how lousy I felt, and he would respond saying that he was pleased with my progress. I wondered if he was even reading what I had written because it appeared he wasn't paying attention to what I had written. But what I didn't realize was that my feeling so bad was a sign that the protocol was working on my body. I became VERY depressed and nearly stopped taking the protocol but somehow managed to force myself to continue and I'm now glad I did. I was taking as many as 127 tablets/capsules a day at one point. I was so full from taking the protocol I didn't even want to eat. But I managed to stick to the eating regimen the doctor had sent as he'd told me it was important to have the macronutrients in the food working with the micronutrients in the protocol. Even during this time my parents started seeing some improvements in my health that I did not realize or see in myself. I really thought I'd wake up one day and feel wonderful but it didn't happen that way. My recovery was very gradual.
Finally, in about the 4th month, I was able to see minor improvements in my health myself. I would still have bad days but I started having a good day occasionally. I didn't really realize I was beginning to recover. It wasn't until I returned to Hawaii on business in May 1999 that I really realized that I was starting to get well. I was able to keep up with the people I was traveling with and even out-last them occasionally. I still had a hard time with jet lag after I returned home, but not like it had been in the past. By that time, most of my symptoms were going away. I was well on my way to recovery.
“Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice and fell on is face at His feet, giving thanks to Him…” Luke 17:15-16
As I write this it is now December 1999, a year after I started the protocol and, many thousands of tablets/capsules later, I'm happy to report that I feel better than ever. I now finally realize how sick I really was, and am so appreciative of my health. I'm able to do things that I haven't done in a long time. I'm currently exercising and getting my muscles back into shape after not being used for many years. My eating habits are completely different (I'm sticking to Dr. Petrovic's eating regimen) and my body feels so healthy. It is exciting to me to be able to work all day and go out with friends after work and have a good time and not be totally exhausted and sick. I can actually make plans for my days off and not have to cancel them due to ill health. I have had colds, but have recovered more quickly than those around me. I am able to think clearly again. I thought I had lost my mind, but I really hadn't. It was as though my mind was a filing cabinet and someone had locked the drawers and I could not access the information within. But the protocol has “unlocked the cabinet” and I am remembering things that I thought I had forgotten forever.
I am truly grateful that God guided us to find Dr. Petrovic and that He had prepared him through years of schooling and study to develop a natural protocol that really worked. I believe finding Dr. Petrovic, taking the protocol and my recovery is a miracle God has given me and I'm humbled when I think of how He orchestrated it just for me. And I am so grateful to my parents for supporting me throughout my illness and my recovery. Without them I would have never been able to make it. Now that I'm well, I realize all they have done for me and I appreciate them more than words can ever express. I now truly understand what it means to have a grateful heart.
“And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” Acts 3:9-10
Now that I have received this gift, this miracle I want people with CFIDS to know that there is a cure out there and that they do have hope of recovery. They do not have to live with this illness indefinitely.
I have communicated with people via e-mail in Australia, Israel, England, Canada and all over the United States regarding the protocol and how I've recovered. I'm happy God has given me the privilege to be an encouragement to people so that they know they are not going through this alone and that they too have the hope of being well again someday. And what these people may not even realize is that they are an encouragement to me. They help me to never forget how sick I once was and how far God has brought me.
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:6-7
I would not trade the suffering and difficulty I've had through the past 13+ years of this illness. God has taught me so much about Himself as well as my relationship with Him through this experience and I want to share what He's taught me with others. I thank God every day for both this illness and my recovery because through this experience He has made real to me that His grace truly is sufficient for me and that His power is perfected in my weakness. May He receive all the glory and honor and praise!
“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” Romans 5:3-6
If you know of anyone who is suffering with CFIDS, please share this with them so that they might also have the opportunity to experience the hope of recovery. Thank you!
Laura A. Mowell
Addendum: 1 August 2001
It's now been 2 years and 8 months since I started the protocol and my health continues to do very well. I have been able to exercise and lose a lot of the weight I had gained with the CFIDS and continue to feel better all the time. I have stuck with Dr. Petrovic's eating regimen as I believe it's a healthy way to eat. I also take anti-oxidants daily (my own protocol) as I feel it helps and I want to stay healthy. When I do get sick occasionally, like anyone does, I find that I seem to recovery fairly quickly – in fact, quicker than most. And each time that happens, it reaffirms to me that I'm really recovered from the CFIDS. I'm currently scheduled to take a 2-week vacation in England next month. This is exciting as I have not been there since I was ill and I know this trip will be much more fun as I feel so good now. It's great to be able to plan things and not have to worry about whether or not I'll be well enough to do them. And I'm also very much looking forward to meeting some other folks while in England that are taking Dr. Petrovic's protocol and are in the process of recovery and/or have recovered.
I think about my good health everyday. I'll never take it for granted again. It's a gift from God and I'm truly grateful!