The Good News
The Slightly Frustrating News
The Inspiring News
Recovery Case 1. ‘The Sports Man’ – Alastair Lynch
The Man: Alastair Lynch’s recovery story is probably my favourite. Here is a guy that was at the top of his sport when he’s confronted with CFS/ME and forced to completely reconfigure his life. Amidst the pressures of his life as professional sportsman he makes a long, slow and steady comeback to go on and win 3 consecutive premiership medals. This guy is one tough and committed hombre.
How it Began: After a turbulent few years involving a car crash, a death in the family and a big weekend drinking he came down with viral symptoms and his dance with CFS/ME began.
How he recovered: Strict dietary changes (high fruit, low sugar, high water, no alcohol). Nutritional & antioxidant supplementation. Paced exercise overseen by his doctor.
How long it took him: 1994 to 2003 – 8 years.
To what level he recovered: ‘And as long as I look after myself, I’m pretty much back to normal these days.’ That means playing high intensity full contact professional sport. ‘I’ve been patient and I’ve worked very, very hard.’
Further info: You can read more about his story in his book Taking Nothing For Granted. While it’s a short and interesting read there isn’t actually all that much information on his specific recovery tactics. Alastair reckons that along side a number of other strategies this multivitamin supplement helped him get back on his feet. I’ve checked it out and it seems to be a fairly comprehensive synthetic mixture that appears to be available in Australia.
Recovery Case 2. ‘The Lady’- Clare Kerr
The Woman: Clare Kerr struggled for a long time with her illness before finally getting diagnosed. She seems to have a go get attitude which probably set the conditions for CFS/ME but also helped her persevere to find a way to get better. Her Doctors in the UK appear to have been crucial in her road to recovery.
How it began: Glandular Fever while at boarding school leading into CFS/ME.
How she recovered: With help from Dr Jean Monro from the Breakspear hospital in the UK Clare used a strategy of targeted vitamin and mineral supplements to strengthen the immune system. It seems this wasn’t just about reaching for the old jar of multivitamin’s. From what I gather Breakspear conduct extensive testing and tailor individual programs from their results.
The holistic and mindful approach seems to have also played a key part for Clare. ‘I have learnt that to be well, I have to put in as much as I want to get out. I practise yoga and meditation daily and stick to a healthy diet high in protein and vegetables. I don’t drink or smoke and I take a daily cocktail of vitamin and mineral supplements to strengthen my immune system. It’s little price to pay for having both feet firmly back in the world once again, doing all the things I was unable to do for so long.’
How long it took her: 1996- 2003 – 7 years.
To what level she recovered: ‘Since then, my health has improved steadily. Relapses are rare and are usually linked to a momentary lapse when I let myself become stressed or eat some of the few foods I’m allergic to.’ ‘I have learnt that to be well, I have to put in as much as I want to get out.’
Further info: Here is a link to an article from The Times detailing Clares recovery story.
Recovery Case 3. The Doctor – Bruce Campbell
The Man: Bruce Campbell is a Phd graduate from California who before becoming unwell himself had experience running self help programs for people with chronic illness. So he was perfectly positioned (with knowledge and finance) to pull out all the stops and go on to recover. His story is unique in that he adopted a strategy of self treatment involving frequent rests, minimal activity and without a dependence on prescriptions or supplements.
How it Began: Bruce had a sudden onset of CFS/ME in 1997 though the exact cause is unknown.
How he recovered: Using only lifestyle change – ‘listening to my body and adapting my life to its needs. No supplements and no medications. A key aspect of this were his scheduled rests – ‘Over time, I came to believe that my scheduled rest was the most important thing I did to aid my recovery’.
How long it took him: 1997 to 2001. 5 Years.
To what level he recovered: ‘I gradually returned to the same level of health I had before becoming sick and have remained healthy now (2009) for eight years’
Recovery Case 4. ‘The Therapist’ – Alex Howard
The Man: Alex is a most inspiring individual. He took his CFS/ME by the horns and used it to fuel a process of extreme personal growth, which not only resulted in his recovery but also saw the birth of the Optimum Health Clinic, a practice based in the UK which is dedicated to helping people around the world to recover from chronic illness. His case of CFS/ME sounded quite similar to mine and he was around the same age when he became unwell so I drew extra hope and determination hearing his story.
How it Began: When Alex was 15 he woke up with feeling unwell thinking he had a flu. So began his adventure with CFS/ME.
How he recovered: After an epic journey of self education Alex recovered using nutrition, psychology, meditation, yoga and diet.
How long it took him: 7 years.
To what level he recovered: He is currently managing and expanding a busy health clinic in London and raising a young child. In other words. He’s 100%.
Further info: Here is a link to a video of Alex detailing his recovery journey. You can also read the story in his book Why ME which I really recommend for a boost of inspiration.
Recovery Case 5. ‘The Big Comeback’ – Mike Dessin
The Man: Mike is like the Rocky of the CFS/ME recovery world. He was down and out. Nobody would listen. But then he found the trainer (Doctor) and went on to win heavyweight gold. A miraculous recovery. I have mega respect for this guy.
How it Began: Mike had nagging symptoms for 12 years after a serious ‘flu’ but managed to live well and hide his medical issues from the world. But then in 2006 the heavy weight symptoms kicked in and his comeback journey began.
How he recovered: Finding the right doctor who went the whole nine yards with him. Using a special form of Neural Therapy, detoxing and supplementing to target viruses in the body and rebuild the immune system.
How long it took him: Around 4 years until he found the doctor that would help him who it seems needed less than 12 months to get him back on his feet.
To what level he recovered: ‘I’m living at about 90% functionally. It’s a normal life, but I have some limitations…. People are so sick that they don’t have hope. What I want people to know is that it’s possible to come back from any stage of this illness. It doesn’t matter how damaged their heart and their brain are. They can still come back. I’ve seen it. I’ve been there. They may not be able to come back to 100%, but they can come back to 80 or 90%. People should really know that’
Further info: The Mike Dessin Story (skip to the end for summary by Cort Johnson if it’s too long for you to handle). And some more updates from himself and two others who recovered in similar fashions on his progress here. These stories are dense and difficult to absorb in one go so take your time and avoid bringing on the brain fog.
Recovery Case 6. ‘The Olympian’ – Anna Hemmings
The Woman: Anna is an Olympic Canoeist from the UK.
How it Began: After living life as a type A personality overly focused on achieving she experienced sudden onset exhaustion that wouldn’t go away. It seems Anna had joined the CFS/ME conga line.
How she recovered: Anna had one on one sessions with Dr John Eaton and for her it did the trick. He has developed a psychological treatment for CFS/ME called Reverse Therapy which is designed to clear any emotional blockages, calm the physiological system and return it to health.
How long it took her: Lucky for Anna that her recovery path was relatively short, lasting around 2 years.
To what level she recovered: A seemingly complete recovery seeing her go on to win canoeing championships.
So what does this all mean for me?
Basically these stories show once and for all that it’s possible to recover from CFS/ME. You just need a bit of time, a bit of patience and a lot of courage and determination. But hey, I believe in you, even if you don’t sometimes!
I’ve found it’s useful to read these stories again and again so that the concept that in fact recovery is possible sinks deep into your subconscious mind.It seems there are many different roads to recovery so do your research, experiment, listen to your intuition and above all be gentle with yourself.
I’ll race you to the finish line of Good Health!!….Slowly and cautiously of course taking adequate breaks and pacing along the way.
Got a recovery story you’d care to share?
Leave a comment below and brighten up someones day.
Where to Next?
Get the low down on the Art of Napping.
Or even better. Forget about all this CFS/ME stuff for a while, grab the nearest living creature and dance uncontrollably around your room (or bed) to this classic from Marvin Gaye!