By Thea Schlosser
Editor’s note: Thea Schlosser is a long-time CFS patient and head of the Chronic Fatigue/Immune Dysfunction Media Awareness Association of America, and author of the book, Beyond the Dark Cloud.
For nearly 30 years I searched for an answer: “Why do I feel ill, lacking energy my whole body hurting, my mind dull and too tired to go anywhere?” How I would have enjoyed going to football games with my grandchildren and on outings with my family.
It was in 1989 at the International BioCare Hospital and Medical Center (IBC) in Tijuana, Mexico, that I was diagnosed with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome) as well as fibromyalgia (FM). And I was helped a great deal.
In the USA, many doctors tried to ease my pain. I tried very hard never to give up hope, and with the help of my family and friends, I kept on going to specialists who prescribed medicines that helped relieve my pain somewhat. And then, a miracle was to occur.
In September 2001, my condition worsened, and I was admitted to the Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo, California, for a six week stay. I suffered severe pains and a high degree of insomnia. I had 34 seizures in 11 days combined with unbearable headaches. I was prescribed morphine patches, up to eight tablets of Fiorinal daily, along with Dilantin and Demoral injections.
I was next sent to Dr. Jody Ballach, a kind, concerned and devoted doctor, to stay in the intensive care unit for 11 days, where my seizures and severe headaches began to improve. Still, I was not strong enough to go home, and Dr. Ballach called Medical Director Dr. Herbert Judy at the rehabilitation center of St. John’s Hospital in Oxnard, CA, to take me on as a patient.
Dr. Herbert Judy noticed that my oxygen level had fallen below normal and he ordered oxygen treatments for me around the clock. Soon I began to feel more alive and had less severe headaches, but I was still suffering from discomfort due to my FM and CFIDS. My oxygen intake was decreased, and I again had difficulty walking, perambulating more or less like a robot.
Dr. Douglas Peterson, a psychologist who visited me daily, probed like a detective for clues as to why I felt so ill and weak. He noticed the oxygen treatment had been discontinued, and that I was very pale, at time confused, and subject to seizures. The staff and my family refused to give up, and my dear daughter Ingrid and her husband Steve encourage me to keep on fighting. But I was exhausted as never before.
Dr. Jerry Brunce, a brilliant psychiatrist and pain specialist, came to see me, and was immediately confronted by the task of how to break the cycle of pain, depression, and insomnia that I was going through. I was very fortunate to have a great team of doctors at St. John’s rehabilitation center. Eventually, I entered an assisted-living facility in Camarillo and was put back on oxygen treatment and pain medication. After seven months, I am still in the Camarillo facility (Alma Via) where I have been treated with kindness and love.
Soon after moving to Alma Via, I remembered the improvement I had shown during my hospital stay when I received the frequent oxygen treatments. Talking it over with Dr. Ballach, she referred me to Dr. George Yu, a pulmonary specialist. Dr. Yu ordered a series of tests which revealed I had chronic bronchitis and asthma. The “sleep study” he ordered revealed that during my sleep, my oxygen level dropped to 56 percent. Stunned, he remarked that such a low oxygen level could cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks and even death. Also during my sleep study, it was noted that I had no REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which indicated that I was not received restful, restorative sleep.
That same day, Dr. Yu ordered an oxygen machine for me [Medicare paid for it]. Since using the machine at the “number 5” level, my health has taken a considerable leap forward. I am better than ever even though I still have CFIDS and FM. My energy level improved; my mind became clearer and I generally happier.
I have written this in detail to share with you the importance of oxygen to your health. We CFIDS and FM sufferers require a lot of bed rest, and with little to no exercise, no wonder our lungs do not receive the amount of oxygen that active, healthy people receive.
I thank the doctors who have helped me so much (Jody Ballach, Jerry Bunce, Herbert Judy, Douglas Peterson, George Yu, Philip Deio, and the anti-aging network directed by Mrs. Elisa Henly).
Editor's note: Thea Schlosser's book, Beyond the Dark Cloud, can be ordered from www.amazon.com for those of you who would like to learn more about her experiences and coping strategies as a CFIDS survivor.
© 2002 Thea Schlosser. Reprinted with permission from the author.