Thursday, February 5, 2015

Mitochondrial Dysfuntion

In December a good guy friend of mine in NYC reprimanded me rather than celebrated with me after I finally secured my malaria prescription. "Katrina, you do NOT have malaria!"

I acknowledged I might not have active malaria in my system, but it was likely the malaria I had been infected with in Uganda triggered Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in my body.

My friend then wanted to know the science behind the illness, "Well, what causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?"

I told him, "They don't know."

"Sure they don't," he replied with sarcasm and skepticism. He then went off on some rant about a change in diet. Our conversation escalated into an argument. My first big one ever, I think, with a non family member. (I was actually proud of myself for how I engaged in the conflict.) He insisted, if only I ate the right food, I would get my health back. His insistence implied that it was my fault that I was still sick, and that it was within my control to heal my body. I shared with him that I didn't want to pursue special diets (i.e. paleo, gluten free, etc.) for fear it might trigger an eating disorder. And it went downhill from there, as he insisted that by me stating that, I already had an eating disorder.

A few days later "the guy from down the shore" told me over facebook chat that he has a neighbor with CFS who has been chasing after special diets for the past 15 years. His neighbor has tried everything under the sun and no food regiment, liver cleanse, or dietary supplement combination has restored his health. My therapist also assured me I don't have an eating disorder; instead, she told me I had good self-awareness to know what might make me susceptible to one. (That same night I shared my most recent NYC shenanigans, and had my therapist laughing so hard that I considered she should be paying me for my fabulous story telling.)

I mention all of this, because during week 2 out in California, I continued my investigative research and found some answers. Hurrah! I finally know the core cause of what it plaguing me.

After spending the past two years ruling out Anemia, Thyroid Issues, Adrenal Fatigue, Lyme Disease, Gluten Allergy, other potential Africa ailments (Schistosomias, Strongyloides, Filarias) and Pyschosomatic Illness (like PTSD and depression) ALL of which can cause various forms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...

Thanks to Dr. Sarah Myhill's presentation I FINALLY know the science behind MY health issues. I have mitochondrial dysfunction, which is a cells' inability to convert enough energy for the body to function properly. Think of it this way: most people get about 100 "energy credits" a day. However, individuals with mitochondrial dysfunction only get 10 to 20 per day, and when you spend more than what you have, your body crashes with debilitating fatigue and migraine headaches. Unfortunately it takes 25 to 50 energy credits per day to work a full time job, so...  that makes life a bit tricky...

Another CFS expert explains it like this: It's like your body blowing a fuse. When you do more than your body can handle, your fuse blows. Even if you "reset" the fuse, you'll keep blowing it when you push your body beyond its limits. The trick to living with mitochondrial dysfunction is to figure out a pacing for your body so you don't keep blowing your fuse.

That said, I think I need to start that company I've been dreaming of, so I can delegate out most responsibilities, and work 10 to 15 hours a week...  Ha! If only it was that easy. I know it's possible, but certainly are also a ton of obstacles between here and there.

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