Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Inspiring and Hopeful Story

I'm still lying low, trying to wait out this crash and using most of my mental energy on actually earning some money for a change (some things are finally starting to open up again in the freelance world).

So, I thought I'd let someone else write today's blog post.  I received an e-mail letter this weekend.  When I read it, tears came to my eyes.  I asked the writer if I could share it here.  I hope you'll find it as inspiring as I did.

"I'm a 23 year old medical student that came down with a severe case of 
mononucleosis in December 2009. My case was unusual and difficult to 
diagnose, so I spent hours (hundreds, literally) on the internet 
researching, and often came up with your blog. It was an extremely 
scary time, because the 8 different doctors I saw couldn't tell me 
when or if I'd get better.

I'm happy (thrilled, ecstatic) to report I'm almost healed.  Yesterday 
I ran 2 miles, swam 20 laps, and feel great today. I'm on my way to 
the rock gym to climb for the first time since November.  This morning 
I found myself sitting outside, just thanking every particle of the 
universe for being alive and having good health.

I wanted to tell you, and everyone else that you are networked with 
and communicate with...this has changed my life path.  I know now that 
I will graduate medical school and go on to specialize in diseases 
like yours.  I never, ever thought it would take an experience as 
difficult as this one to make me realize what kind of physician I am 
destined to be.  I will never forget the experience of 3 months into 
my illness, seeing this particular doctor...I spent over a week 
planning out my visit, making a little list of symptoms, and was 
so...excited, that maybe I might have found someone that could finally 
help me.  I got there, waited anxiously for her to come in, and when 
she did...she hardly listened to me. I was given a bunch of Ambien and 
sent out the door. I remember coming home and actually crying because 
I was so distraught in the idea that the healthcare system, in which I 
had placed so much of my heart and future, was such a complete and 
epic failure.

I don't know if I healed myself. I worked hard to improve my sleep, my 
mental health (I got a pet cat!), and I slowly and gradually worked 
into an exercise program (which was really painful at first). I 
swallowed more vitamins than I knew existed. I took olive leaf, 
valerian, and coconut oil. I can't say for sure that any of those 
things was the one that did it.   I know that most likely I just had a 
severe case of mono, that was likely to end with time anyway. I know 
this is nothing like CFS, and I don't pretend that my 6 month 
experience was anything like your 8 year one. But this feeling of 
being 'reborn'...I don't know how to describe it.  Every day I feel 
like I'm on borrowed time. I don't want to waste a second of it.

I promise, that as a future physician, you and everyone else that has 
CFS will experience something different from me.  I know now that 
there is a huge difference between 'curing' and 'healing'.  I'm 
committed to helping those who suffer from CFS, and other 
misunderstood chronic diseases as well, find the that path. I will be 
a healer.

I want to thank you, personally, for providing such insight just 
through your personal experiences."

Thank YOU, Jennifer, for reminding us that some people do recover and for giving us hope for the future of CFS healthcare.  You're going to be an amazing doctor!

P.S. I do think she had CFS.  Dr. Bell told me once that many people with virally-triggered CFS (especially post-mono/EBV) recover within the first year and are never even accurately diagnosed with CFS.  In fact, the length of time it usually takes for someone to get diagnosed with CFS (a year for me) probably skewers the recovery data and misses many of the milder cases that resolve themselves.


  1. This is amazing! You will need to keep this letter~ maybe frame it. It is so wonderful that your words here are touching the lives of others ~ and will affect the future of those yet to live with and be treated for this disease....Can't help but praise God for this!

  2. Wow. Many blessings to Jennifer. Sometimes when a friend gets sick, he or she will say to me, "Now I know how you feel all the time." It always makes me feel heard and understood. But to think that Jennifer will now devote her life as a doctor to helping those with CFS just warms my heart. I'm grinning ear to ear!

  3. Fantastic note. Thank you sharing it with us. Should I go ahead and get on Jennifer's wait list now? ;)

  4. Thanks for sharing this - and how great that she will be going forward with an understanding of CFS.

    Thanks Sue for your thoughtful comments - love your blog and hope to see more soon.

  5. While I'm so sorry that Jennifer had to go through this (I also suspect CFS), I am so happy that she has decided to give to so many others in such a powerful way. To have someone that is going to become a physician actually face the battles that we do, would certainly open ones eyes and make them a very good doctor. I am thrilled for all of the patients that Jennifer will treat, and for the blessings Jennifer will receive for choosing this path.

    Sue - I hope that this shows you that YOU are making a difference also, just think you have helped some patient out there - FINALLY find a doctor that will not ridicule, brush off, or dismiss their symptoms.

  6. Yes, David - I think we should all get on Jennifer's wait list!!

  7. What a beautiful letter! It gives me hope, knowing that there will be one more doctor out there that understands this disease. Maybe her attitude will be contagious -- at medical school, at the office where she finally works, at seminars where she mingles. And yes, once again, it shows the tremendous influence that you have had through your blog. Thank you.

  8. This brought tears lining up at the ducts, to read her attitude and here her devotion to do something with what she experienced.

    I also think its awesome that she's not selling a cure for CFS, that she allows herself to be in the mystery of it...I am better, I don't know why, but I'm going to celebrate, live my life to the fullest and work to make it better for others who still are where she was.

    To think of her rock climbing...can't help but smile :)
    What a physician she is going to make! Great to read such a happy, inspirational, hopeful true story Sue.

  9. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Wonderful, thanks very much for posting this, Sue! Jennifer, when you read this, know that you have made a lot of people very happy!


  10. Wow, what an amazing story! You had to feel so good to receive such a letter. You are an inspiration, Sue. Take care. Glad to hear things are going well for you.

  11. Sign me up! That is the kind of doctor I have been dreaming of! It so sad that it took an illness to help her see the light, but on the other hand, thank God. Maybe that should be a requirement for all doctors. You have to be really sick for 6 months of more! Just kidding of course.

    I have often thought that people who so easily shrug our illness off as nothing probably would see things quite differently if afford the opportunity to walk in any of our shoes for even a month! ... or a really bad day!