Chronic Fatigue Syndrome:
A Treatment Guide
by Erica Verrillo
This one-of-a-kind reference – now completely revised and updated – includes over 100 effective treatments, from antivirals to vitamins, as well as locations of specialists and clinics, Internet ordering information, and national, local, and international CFS/ME organizations. New and expanded sections include doctors’ protocols and research on the causes and mechanisms of the illness, all written in concise, easy-to-understand language.
Every aspect of the illness is thoroughly examined, from diagnosis to an in-depth discussion of symptoms, from traditional to alternative therapies to essential coping strategies. The new edition contains chapters for those coping with multiple chemical sensitivities and dietary restrictions, as well an expanded section on children and adolescents with CFS/ME. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide, remains the most comprehensive reference guide on this disease.
INTRODUCTION: THE TREATMENT DILEMMA
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is also sometimes a matter of opportunity.”
CFS/ME is one of those illnesses for which receiving a diagnosis can bring as much frustration as relief. All too often a person who has spent years searching for a diagnosis expects that identification of the illness will bring with it, if not a cure, at the very least an effective treatment plan. Unfortunately, most of us who have received the diagnosis have also been told that CFS/ME has “no known cause or cure,” a phrase that invariably creates enough hopelessness to offset any relief the diagnosis may have offered.
The lack of known cause or cure, while discouraging, certainly does not imply that an illness cannot be treated, or that those who suffer from it will not recover. Throughout the ages, physicians have successfully treated diseases on the basis of their knowledge of symptoms and human physiological responses rather than on test results. And because human physiology has not changed much over the past 40,000 years, treatment approaches, for the most part, have remained remarkably consistent. For example, the Chinese medical system, which relies heavily on nutrition and the use of herbs, was codified more than 5,000 years ago. Herbal remedies, their pharmaceutical derivatives, massage and manual manipulation techniques, nutritional therapy, and stress reduction methods (meditation, yoga) are treatments that have withstood the test of time, and still form the mainstay of medical systems throughout the world.
The premise of this book is that the absence of a cure does not in any way imply that there is no treatment for CFS/ME. To make the grounds for this position clear, consider the popular concept that an illness “attacks.” Cure, in this conceptual framework, consists of killing the attacker. In CFS/ME, the attacker is unknown, unidentified, and perhaps not even a single factor; thus counterattack is impossible. The victim is left with only two choices: lie back and let nature take its course (which in CFS/ME can be agonizing), or seek alternative points of view. The alternative is to view CFS/ME as a form of systemic damage that must be gradually, methodically, and thoughtfully repaired. Or, to use an analogy, if CFS/ME is like falling into a hole, as some patients have observed, recovery is like climbing out of the hole, step by step, rung by rung.
According to the CDC more than a million people across the country suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome; yet information about the condition has been scattered and largely unavailable in one place – until now.
The second updated edition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A Treatment Guide acts as both a modified encyclopedia and as a sourcebook for any seeking information about the syndrome.
There may remain no cure for the syndrome – but there are treatments: many of them; in fact – and many effective approaches for understanding the condition’s triggers, management, and outlook.
Over a hundred effective treatments, from medications to antivirals and holistic approaches, are included in this volume, along with lists of doctors, clinics and specialists working with chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers, print, and Internet references and links, and more.
The long list of therapies and treatments which have proven successful are contained in a reference guide section that lends to quick browsing and location of data: from an overview and history of the illness to discussions of how CFS affects body and mind, descriptions of various CFS symptoms and treatment approaches, and discussions of traditional and alternative therapies, this book is packed with material discussing a wide variety of coping methods.
New and expanded sections to this second updated edition include not only the latest research findings and recommendations, but physician protocols and keys to self-help and management.
Also discussed are the multifaceted symptoms of CFS. Symptoms may run the gamut, but often include recurring infections, fatigue, nausea and abdominal pain, confusion and attention span problems, and much more. Each symptom receives an in-depth coverage including various treatments, likely causes within the CFS diagnosis, and bibliographies for further reading.
The author herself was completing a doctorate in 1992 before she fell ill with the disease, so has many years of personal experience with CFS, during which approaches to and understanding of the condition have seen much change. These changes are reflected in this new edition of the book, as well as her own compassion for other sufferers.
There is simply no other treatment guide on the market that is presented with such expansive coverage, making this a ‘must’ for any health collection and for any reader concerned with understanding the extent of CFS.
About the Author
Erica Verrillo was born in Rochester, New York on May 10th, 1953. Her parents, both classical musicians, named her after famed violinist, Erica Morini. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Erica studied piano with her mother as a young child, and then flute with John Oberbrunner. At age seventeen she moved to England, where she played in the Oxford Symphony Orchestra and studied with Gareth Morris, principal flutist of the Philharmonia Orchestra. A year later she moved back to the U.S. where she attended New England Conservatory as a student of Boston Symphony Orchestra’s James Pappoutsakis.
Although Erica’s first love was music, she finished her undergraduate education at Tufts University, where she majored in Latin American History. Soon after receiving her B.A. from Tufts, she set out to explore Latin America on foot, hitchhiking through Central America, over the Andes to Argentina, and finally to Brazil. She describes her two-and-a-half-year sojourn as “The Motorcycle Diaries, without the motorcycle.”
Erica returned to the U.S. to complete her M.A. in Linguistics at Syracuse University, after which she moved to Manhattan, where she taught English as a Second Language at the World Trade Center and at the New York Association for New Americans. In 1982 Erica entered SUNY Albany’s Ph.D. program in Anthropology, where she became linguistic supervisor of the Albany-Chiapas project, an eighteen-month field project among the Chamulas of southern Mexico.
Living in Central America,Erica soon turned her energies to refugee aid. In 1984 she founded the Guatemalan Refugee Crafts Project, a weaving co-op funded initially by Seva Foundation. As Erica describes it, the idea was to make an aid organization which was fully self-sufficient. Over the next ten years, Erica earned $100,000 for the camps, supporting over 600 people.
In 1990, Erica resumed work on her PhD at UT Austin, this time in Speech Communication, where she combined her knowledge of linguistics with anthropology. But, in 1992, after several bouts with tropical diseases in Guatemala, Erica fell ill.
“I had to let everything go – the PhD, the refugee project, my husband, my home, everything. It was the end,” says Erica. “But it was also the beginning. Being ill for so many years makes you re-evaluate your priorities. It’s amazing how many things just aren’t important.”
When asked what things are important, Erica doesn’t hesitate: “For me – writing, my children, and writing. In that order.”