My journey with chronic fatigue began over twenty years ago when I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction (CFIDS) and Fibromyalgia (FMS). I was so ill my doctor wanted to give me medical disability. After four years of agony, I finally said to my doctor, “I either want to get better or I want to die.”
Since then, I have drastically changed my diet, recovered, finished a doctoral degree in Holistic Nutrition, and have more energy than I did 30 years ago. My passion now is to educate others and give them hope for recovery.
It began with a sudden onset. I had gone on the Fit for Life diet, eating fruit in the morning and vegetables in the afternoon. I didn’t realize I had candida and eating fruit was like pouring gasoline on a fire….fueling systemic candida. I felt like a walking corpse. While trying to walk or get out of bed in the morning, it seemed as if I was beating a dead horse.
With each step I took my feet felt like I was walking on pins and needles. The pain was excruciating, not only in my feet, but in every joint and muscle. My lymph nodes ached and were swollen. My kidneys, my liver, and my spleen hurt. My doctor did a round of blood tests and found the blood tests were normal. Nothing was wrong with me. I felt like I was dying, and he found nothing wrong with me.
My doctor prescribed an anti-depressant that caused tardis dyskinesia (swelling of the tongue because of an allergic reaction to medication). My tongue became thick, and I couldn’t enunciate my words properly. My mouth was constantly dry. While attempting to sleep, I felt like I was doing round after round of backward somersaults. My life was so out of control I thought I might die and knew I could if I stopped fighting to get well and just stayed in bed. When I stopped taking the antidepressant, the side effects of dyskinesia went away.
The doctor then referred me to a counselor who recommended Prozac as the panacea for everything. By the first week I was more depressed than ever and by the second week I felt suicidal. Since then I have learned about the gene mutation MTHFR that doesn’t allow the liver to detoxify. Therefore, taking a medication that the liver cannot detoxify can cause suicidal feelings. All mental health begins in the gut. The counselor recommended doubling the dosage. No way was I going to double the dose. I had done some research and found I was not the only one who responded to Prozac that way.
Some of my friends and family thought I was faking my illness because I looked okay. Others knew me to be hard working and dedicated and knew I was really ill. I looked okay, but I couldn’t stand up without leaning on a wall because I was so weak and dizzy. My short-term memory was fouled up. Concentrating and thinking was a chore and trying to read was difficult. I wondered if I had an early onset of Alzheimer’s. I was depressed, and it seemed I was being sucked into a black hole.
There was no hurry in me. I was frequently late because I had no energy to hurry and could not walk fast, only at a snail’s pace. Still, I somehow managed to make it to work most days. I was so dedicated to the young people I worked with, I was determined to continue working, and I could sit down and work. After work, I would flop down on the bed and sleep until morning. On weekends I could sleep twenty-four hours straight or at times I could not sleep at all. I alternated between long hours of sleeping and insomnia.
Next, I scheduled appointments with specialists at the University Medical Center. Again the tests showed nothing abnormal, except for Epstein Barr. I was given antibiotics which did not help, and only made me feel worse. Antibiotics feed candida. No one had checked for candida and at that time it was rarely recognized by the medical profession.
The doctor referred me to a psychiatrist who on the first fifteen minute visit, and without any testing, wanted to put me on an MAO inhibitor. He suggested my symptoms were psychosomatic. I left his office quacking. I was a mental health counselor and knew I was physically ill, not mentally ill. It was true I suffered from depression, but Chronic Fatigue attacks the central nervous symptom. Of course I had depression. Some depression is caused by chemical imbalance, but depression is also caused by anger you turn in on yourself, feeling trapped, feeling guilty, and loss…all natural feelings when you have a serious illness. As another Chronic Fatigue patient said, “Chronic Fatigue is not death, but it takes your life away.”
When I first became ill, I had my blood checked at a health food store where they were doing a “live cell analysis” which involved taking a sample of my blood and magnifying it about 20,000 times. On the monitor I watched my blood cells and saw little parasites swimming around in my blood stream. When I approached my doctor with this news he said it wasn’t possible to have parasites in your blood and told me I was probably just suffering from stress and depression.
I felt useless, guilty, and life seemed hopeless. I couldn’t cope with our household of teenagers and perhaps my children felt abandoned. They had lost their father and now their mother was emotionally unavailable. Although my husband was emotionally supportive and knew I was ill, he had little energy to help me because his health started to decline. He was having kidney problems and after teaching all day he came home exhausted and would fall asleep on the bed.
One day I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in several years. I had worked with her when I was an enthusiastic, energetic coordinator of a women’s education resource center where I counseled and taught self-sufficiency skills. Several hundred women went through our program and many were as little ducklings, filled with fear and afraid to go into the water and face their future. Still, I knew they could do it because I had been a single parent who returned to school and completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I had been widowed while expecting our fourth child, then three years later remarried a man who was abusive to me and my children. We had one child together. But when our son was nine months old, and I filed for divorce, I found I was pregnant again. I stayed in the marriage and much to everyone’s surprise ended up having twins. Precious little girls. Twins did not change my husband’s abusive behavior, and when they were three months old, I divorced him. I had seven children, three under 18 months old, but I survived, and I knew these women could go on from where they were and grow. When I saw my friend she didn’t recognize me at first. She said, “What has happened to you? Your aura—your light is gone.” It was true. The spirit is grieved when you are physically or emotionally ill. The Spirit wants to live in a healthy, happy body.
My name was on the prayer role continually. I had many blessings and went to many doctors, still, it wasn’t until I drastically changed my diet that I began to get better. After nearly four years of feeling like I had the drop-dead flu, I finally went to Dr. Landon Beales, who recognized that I had candida, which is a major player in chronic fatigue. He put me on Diflucan. I began to get better and gradually changed my diet. At that time I didn’t recognize that I had MTHFR, a genetic mutation that prevents the liver from detoxifying.
I began eating a more alkaline diet, stopped eating sugar, dairy, and white or yeasted bread, and gradually recovered. I could actually function. I still did not have robust energy, but I had joined the living again. I wasn’t among the walking dead.
A year or so later I found out I had liver cancer. It was small, still I thought I was going to die. Because of my fragile immune system, I could not do chemotherapy, which is probably a great blessing. People with MTHFR would have a hard time detoxifying chemo. My doctor knew that I couldn’t do chemotherapy. It would have killed me faster than the cancer, so he put me on a vegan diet and also a diet to kill parasites. I started daily juicing and drank three to four glasses of vegetable juice a day.
Thinking I was going to die, I decided to spend the rest of my days living, writing letters to my children, and doing genealogy. When I went to a local family history center in our neighborhood, I saw a portrait of the Savior and stood looking into his eyes. I heard him say to me, “You are going to be okay.” I knew I would be okay. I stayed with the vegan diet, and within four months I was in remission. Later I began an even more alkaline diet which gave me more energy. I am still eating a vegan diet, but I occasionally eat fish. I jump on a mini tramp or (in good weather) a regular trampoline every day.
I have a testimony of the Word of Wisdom, especially to eat meat sparingly and in my case I have not eaten it at all for more than twenty years. There is no question in my mind that the blessing of living the Word of Wisdom has saved my life, and the promises of having health in my navel and wisdom and knowledge in living a law of health have come to me and been fulfilled in my life. I am grateful for the guidance I have received and feel it came in answer to prayer. The Word of wisdom is indeed a principle with a promise.
Patty Butts is 79 years old and lives in West Jordon, Utah. She is a mother of seven and grandma of over 70 grandchildren. She has a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition, M.Ed. in Counseling, and B.S. in Communications & Journalism. She is a clinical and medical hypnotist, NLP, and Certified Emotion Code Practitioner, Life Coach, Clinical Hypnotist, Utah Certified Elan Light therapist, and has been a Licensed Professional Counselor and temple worker. Patty is the author of Defeating Depression & Beating the Blues and Free Yourself From Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. She lectures on depression, mental health issues, stress management and her favorite, “Optimism: How to get it and keep it.”