W4 Reflection: Chronic Fatigue

The medical condition I have chosen to focus on is chronic fatigue. The symptoms of chronic fatigue include loss of memory or concentration, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, muscle pain that has no explanation, joint pain that moves from one joint to the other, headaches, poor sleep quality, and extreme exhaustion, according to the Mayo Clinic Staff. Chronic fatigue is often treated through the use of medications and pharmaceuticals including antidepressants, sleeping pills, or therapy. Therapies can include exercise therapy or psychological counseling. Alternative approaches are sometimes used, usually revolving around relaxation techniques.

The illness experience in a patient with chronic fatigue can be influenced heavily by the people around them. For example, even with a diagnosis from a medical professional, I have a relative who suffers from chronic fatigue, and had a difficult time conveying to others how serious the affliction can be. The sick role includes being excused from regular responsibilities, which was very difficult for my relative to do. Having to tell someone you need time away from work due to fatigue is not something many superiors take easily. Our culture sees fatigue as a sign of weakness and encourages hard work. This in turn negatively affects the patient, making them feel worse about themselves, and also continue the cycle of working without time to relax and get proper help for the chronic fatigue.

There is a large connection between belief and healing, as seen in the “Placebo: Cracking the Code” video. The video had one example of a doctor who believed a patient would be able to be treated by placebo effect, not knowing that the patient had a congenital condition. Miraculously, the patient was cured of his condition. The doctor continued to try this treatment on other patients with similar conditions, and failed. The difference was that the doctor did not know the first patient had a congenital, “incurable” disease. Although I of course could not say for sure that the first case was not just some miracle, this example is just one of the many the video depicted of belief leading to healing. I think the connection exists, but to what extent, I am unsure.

“Chronic fatigue.” Mayo Clinic. Published July 1, 2014. Accessed July 29, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-fatigue-syndrome/basics/alternative-medicine/con-20022009

2 thoughts on “W4 Reflection: Chronic Fatigue

  1. How chronic fatigue is analyzed in your post seems to be close to how I perceive it to be. Chronic fatigue to me is caused by other outside sources such as difficulty sleeping, stress, or other psychological problems. Your description also mentions the physical affects such as muscle and joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes, and headaches. I find this interesting because most people think of fatigue as only being very tired, not associating it with any of the other symptoms. After going back through the course materials I’ve learned much more on how chronic fatigue is identified, diagnosed, and treated. Perceptions on medical conditions can be heavily influenced by family, friends, and other peers and can affect the way someone may treat themselves or others. I can give credit to my parents for establishing a basic viewpoint for myself in politics, religion, and other types of opinions. The same thing goes regarding medicine. I have the same thought process as my parents when it comes to treating common illnesses, and it will probably last and carry on when I have my own children. Outside opinions can play an important role in treating certain medical conditions.

  2. I think your discussion of chronic fatigue is well written and brings up a lot of aspects of the illness that people don’t normally think of. As you mentioned, in our society we tend to attribute fatigue to weakness and it would be very difficult for someone experiencing this to fully fulfill the sick role. Convincing others that what they are going through is more than just normal tiredness would pose to be very challenging. Your description that the disease can cause physical symptoms outside of what we would categorize as fatigue is what I found most interesting. I had never thought in my original perception of the disease that it would include symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat, or unexplainable muscle pain.
    I believe that my perceptions of illness are influenced most strongly by my family. I picked up on my parent’s perceptions of medicine. Whether it be if one of us got sick, or if someone we knew got diagnosed with something more serious. Knowing when going to the doctor or hospital was appropriate or how to act if someone had been diagnosed with cancer or had a heart attack. Outside influences such as school and athletic teams also have influenced my perceptions of illness. Such as learning the difference between an injury and being sore or tired.

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