This is it, ladies and gentlemen! The moment we've all been waiting for. Spark's diagnosis. The medical mystery is finito, or so it seems for now.
I brought this article to my g.p. I had gone over it with a highlighter to indicate which symptoms, in my humble lay-person's opinion, apply to me. According to my interpretation, I fit the criteria of a mild case of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (the condition previously known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
Post-exertion neuroimmune exhaustion: check. Neurocognitive impairments noticeable when I'm in a setback: check (mostly my short-term memory fizzles and I have to make significantly more effort to recall words and construct grammatically correct sentences). Non-inflammatory pain: check. Prolonged sleep: check. Muscle weakness: check. Sensititivities to food and medications: check. Low grade fever and intolerance of extreme temperatures: check. Fortunately I don't experience all of these all of the time. Most of them only affect me if I've overdone it again and am in an exhausted state. Only the food sensitivities are with me all the time.
My g.p. scanned the article, nodded, and said "Yep, that sounds right." Then he typed it into his computer, turned back to me and immediately started talking about treatment. Of course, currently there is no treatment for ME. Some of the symptoms can be medicated but the essential condition itself, no. It's still in the process of being accepted as a bona fide illness. Even the name ME for this condition is relatively new. The article I linked to was published mere weeks ago, in the July edition of the Journal of Internal Medicine.
The only thing my doctor could think of to offer me was anti-depressants, as they have been used off-label to treat chronic fatigue. I declined. He may as well have said to me "Hey, how'd you like to have a bunch of unpredictable and horrible side effects?" Because that's what most medications do for me: make things worse.
I explained that I only wanted the diagnosis on file just in case. In case I get called for jury duty and need a doctor's note to excuse me. In case, God forbid, my situation gets worse after my good boss retires, and I have to deal with a mean boss who wants to give me a hard time about my hours: I'll need to be able to point to a documented medical condition in order to be accomodated in my workplace. It also does feel better just to be able to tell people that I have something concrete. I'm tired of talking about my "mystery" or "chronic-fatigue-esque" condition. It sounds lame even to me.
It was a bit of an anticlimax. I thought that at least my doctor would want to refer me to a specialist for confirmation. But that was it. He typed the diagnosis into his computer. That was pretty much all he could do for me.
The best part has been telling a few select people. It is so good to have a proper name for it. Myalgic encephalomyelitis. It still takes me a few tries to spell it right. It does flow off the tongue in a satisfying way.