The Thief of Many Lives
Kathleen Houghton, Alaska CFS-MCS
Association 1996, Revised 2002.
I am constantly
on the prowl in search of new victims. I do not discriminate---health care
workers, teachers, students, airline personnel, teens, moms, dads, and innocent
children are my prey. If you are dynamic and have a lust for life, I will seek
you out, and I will find you.
Just when you are at the peak of your endeavors, climbing that careerladder or
building your family and home, I will find you. There is nothing that you have
in your life today that I am not capable of destroying tomorrow, your career,
your education, your goals, your dreams, your family, and your life. I will have
it all. I will strip you of your ability to function at any level above minimal,
and from this day on you will refer to that minimal as a "good day."
I have the ability to create an invalid out of you overnight, and I will. It
will take a marathon effort for you just to get out of bed. At a cellular level
your immune system will be in a constant war battling itself and unnamed
viruses, which will painfully be replicating in your brain. I promise you, I
will bring you despair along with pain, isolation and losses far beyond what you
can ever imagine. Your mind will be in a constant "fogged" state, your
expression will be unable to express, and your eyes will have a noticeable
"glazed over/ drugged out" look. You will find it most difficult to pay
attention, concentrate, or even process the simplest of thoughts. Making change
from a dollar may well be beyond your ability now. Your mouth may feel like it
is full of marbles when you try to speak, as your tongue twists and nothing you
try to say comes out right. Who would believe your level of education when you
can't even string enough words together to make a complete sentence ... or one
that makes any sense for that matter. I promise, I will bring you at any
unsuspecting time, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea along
with a host of gastro-intestinal disorders. I will make you weak and lifeless
as one could be without being confirmed dead. You will be housebound or in bed
for several years if not the rest of your life. As part of incapacitating you, I
will make your heart race and your head pound; your throat will constantly be
sore and your lymph glands will swell. That will all seem trivial after I
inflame and spasm muscles throughout your body. Crushing a grape between your
fingers may take too much energy or be too painful now.
On those nights that I allow you to sleep, you will awaken drenched with sweat
or throbbing with pain. Perhaps I might even throw in a little seizure activity.
On those nights that I do not allow sleep to occur; I will torture you with
thoughts of death.... Not suicide, but death. Simply because you have not come
to realize that this is your new life, and that you are not living. You will
need to re-create your being every day, as every day I will bring you
unpredicted symptoms and suffering.
I have also done a few things that you may not be aware of yet. I placed some
lesions on your brain (have you noticed how you have difficulty with balance
and memory yet?) and I have permanently altered your immune system.
I have shorted out your nervous system so that you have intermittent numbness
and tingling, which might resemble an electrical current zapping you from time
to time. This is called neuropathy. Nope, it's not curable either!
Now I have you. I have taken over your body and mind. I have stolen your life
but left you alive, not very functional, but by clinical definition you are
Your family will not be able to give you all the constant care that you need on
a daily basis. As for your friends, well, they're still on that ladder climbing
up. Rest assured, I am looking for them too. By now, chances are good that most
of your family and friends have abandoned you, so you must have learned the
definition of isolation. This newfound isolation will save you from having to
explain how sick you really are to others, they won't understand anyway.
Isolation will save you all that energy. Your health insurance has already been
or will shortly be discontinued as you lost your job from not being able to
"keep up." Perhaps you got caught dozing off or called in sick one too many
times. Now that you are no longer employable or insurable, when you seek medical
care, any medical professional that figures me out will diagnose you and say
that what you have is presently not curable.
Now it is time for you to seek out medical care, nation if not worldwide.
However, most so called medical professionals will not even have the ability to
recognize me when they see me, as they have not learned about me in medical
school. So, chances are good that you will be misdiagnosed. You will give more
blood samples and have more examinations than you ever imagined existed. Then
you can take the results to dozens of doctors in search of a diagnosis. One that
is valid as well as socially and medically acceptable. One that does not label
you as depressed or say that "it is all in your head!!!" Most doctors will
suggest a vacation, weight loss diet, new or increased love life, help with the
children, or change of scenery as the "cure," mainly because you may look like
the picture of health. This is my mask of deception. You will pray for a
positive word from current research. Research, which you will soon learn, is
quite limited due to lack of funding and government support. You will learn new
vocabulary which contains words like: T-Cells, Cytokines, Nuclear Antigens,
Natural Killer Cells, Immunoglobulins, Cytomegalovirus, Seratonin, Cerebral
lesions, and Immune Dysfunction are among a few. However the most important
words that you will need to know and fight for are Social Security Disability
At one point I may give you a false sense of recovery or remission. Let me
assure you, I will be back, as you are my prisoner and that makes me your
keeper. I have placed the lives of millions of people nationwide in limbo,
I continue to do the same world wide. I would consider this an epidemic,
Eventually I will bring the government, health care workers, and society to its
knees in search of unraveling my complexities, which are crippling humanity. I
leave it up to you, my victims, and your caretakers, to educate the public and
let them know that I am very real and that you are very sick.
Unfortunately, I have been given a totally ridiculous name, which will make your
job even more difficult. Until that name is changed, I am:
CHRONIC FATIGUE AND IMMUNE DYSFUNCTION SYNDROME