IN 1975 I was in my third year of medical school, supporting myself working as a neonatal intensive care unit nurse in the Children’s Hospital. And this was the easy part of my life. My family, made up largely of concentration camp survivors from Auschwitz was going through an emotional meltdown. As is often the case with people with CFS/FMS, I was and am pretty empathic, making me the “family problem solver.” Putting myself in the middle of this battle was like getting between a group of drunks fighting. I got emotionally pounded to death. Like the sitcoms on TV, my uncle literally had a heart attack in my apartment while trying to convince me to manipulate my cousins, and landed up in the intensive care unit.
In this context, I came down with a very severe viral infection. Although they could not identify the specific virus, the blood testing showed severe changes. Six weeks later though, when they felt that I should be fully recovered; I was still disabled and nonfunctional. My professors were very sympathetic, but after a while presumed that I must have, “depressed med student disease.” My being brain fogged and disabled continued for months, and I finally had to drop out of medical school. As my father had died years before, and I was paying my own way and could not work, or keep my student loans or scholarship, this also meant that I was homeless.
Being homeless was not the worst of it. My whole life had been geared to being a physician and healer. With this destroyed by my illness, I suddenly was left with no purpose. For a while, I lived out of my old Dodge Dart, which broke down and was towed away by the police. After that, I was sleeping in parks, and ate when people were kind enough to feed me. I would note that the people I met in Tulsa during this time were incredibly loving and gracious.
But something else happened. Something unexpected. It was as if the Universe had put a “Homeless Medical Student” sign on my park bench. Healers of many backgrounds, physicians, naturopaths, herbalists, energy workers, and countless others would come by and sit with me. We would talk and they would offer me their perspective on my illness. I was able to put together an integrated treatment protocol from these numerous different practitioners. In doing so, I was able to recover from my CFS/fibromyalgia. I had no idea that returning to medical school was even possible, but found out that it was. I was able to return, and do very well.
But I never forgot my experience, and the numerous lessons that I learned living on a park bench.
I am a science geek, and as a physician I have reviewed tens of thousands of studies. I also find that the realities of our current medical monopoly severely limits information to physicians, basically feeding them slick advertising masquerading as science. Simply put, most physicians are not aware of most of the treatments that can help people because they are simply not profitable. And they don’t even know that they don’t know.
I have spent the last 40 years effectively treating thousands of people with CFS and fibromyalgia, getting the information to countless others, and training numerous health practitioners. We have also published four studies on effective treatment of CFS and fibromyalgia, including a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study showing that the protocol discussed below resulted in 90 percent of people improving with an average 91 percent increase in quality of life (p<.0001 vs. placebo). We call the treatment the SHINE Protocol, optimizing:
Exercise as able
I will be doing a series on how to get from where you are, to getting your life back. I will begin with an overview article on each of the five areas above. We will then go into more depth in each area. For example, sleep issues include not only natural and prescription things to help sleep, but also treating sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, nasal congestion and upper airway resistance syndrome.
Basically, I will make you an expert so you can get yourself well. We will also point you to the tools and resources that can help you.
We combine the best of natural and pharmaceutical treatments in the protocol. Put simply, the cost of a treatment bears NO relationship to its effectiveness. It only impacts how likely you are to hear about it in advertising and promotion. So don’t worry if some of the treatments we recommend are not an option for you financially. We will also be discussing low-cost alternatives, and how the overall treatment protocol can be done at very low cost as well.So here are a few tools to help you begin:
1. Finding a physician. Although I do phone consults with people from all over the world (410-573-5389), many people simply cannot afford this. Find a local physician who is more likely to be familiar with CFS and fibromyalgia. (Find one that is holistically trained. There are over 2000 of these.) Begin at https://secure.endfatigue.com/cfs-fibromyalgia/find-a-practitioner—if there is not one near you there go to www.ABIHM.org. Sadly, insurance will not cover holistic treatments or the time needed to properly take care of these illnesses, meaning that most holistic physicians will not participate with any health insurance, making this not an option for many people. There is help though. Our goal has been to make effective treatment available for everyone. So here’s another tool that can help you.
2. Basically, what is needed to help people get their lives back is to optimize energy using SHINE. I computerized the approach I used when I treated people, evaluating their symptoms and lab testing. I then computerized this in a complex program that burnt out three computer programmers over three years, and made it available online. I actually hold the U.S. patent for a computerized physician, which I designed specifically for people with CFS and fibromyalgia. Initially, we charged people $400 to use the computer program, but told people that if they couldn’t afford this, they could do it for free. Over 80 percent of people said they could not afford anything because they were disabled, so we have now made the program available free for everyone. It can be found at http://energyanalysisprogram.com/. It will analyze your symptoms in a series of quizzes, and if they are available, even analyze your pertinent lab tests. The lab testing, however, is not critical and can always be added later.
3. For an overview of treating the illness, a lecture in CFS and fibromyalgia that I gave to several hundred physicians at their board review course can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuIRDzUDO3o.
4. I invite you to read my book, The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, if you would like an “easy reading” overview. If you want more detail and the study references, I recommend From Fatigued to Fantastic.
I will be contributing regular articles to TotalHealth Online to guide you on the specifics you need to reclaim your health. I will begin with an overview of each of the SHINE components, and then go into key topics in detail. I invite you to join me in this journey of recovery.
Please share this article with your friends, so they can also get their lives back. To sign up for the free newsletter that will have these articles, go to www.EndFatigue.com.
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Jacob E Teitelbaum, MD
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling books
- The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
- From Fatigued to Fantastic!
- Pain Free 1-2-3
- Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy
- The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction
- Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook
- Real Cause, Real Cure: The 9 root causes of the most common health problems and how to solve them
Dr. Teitelbaum knows CFS/fibromyalgia as an insider — he contracted CFS when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 25 years, he has dedicated his career to finding effective treatments.