According to a story from ktvq.com, Susan Henderson of Bozeman used to revel in painting vast, impressive canvases and teaching art classes geared towards children. Unfortunately, her diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome changed everything in 1995. Now much of her art expression is set in the digital space, where all the physical exertion necessary is a simple click of a mouse or a tap on a keyboard.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long term condition in which an affected person is almost constantly beset by fatigue and tiredness to the point that it affects their ability to function on a day to day basis. The origins of this rare and curious syndrome are not clearly understood. People with chronic fatigue syndrome often experience a worsening of symptoms if they attempt any strenuous activity, and resting often does little or nothing to relieve the fatigued feeling. Other symptoms include abnormal sensitivities, sore throat, irritable bowel syndrome, night sweats, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, tender lymph nodes, and thinking and memory problems. Treatment involves physical and cognitive behavioral therapy, pacing, and changes to diet and eating habits. There is currently no approved treatment for the condition. To learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome, click here.
Susan recalls first realizing something was wrong when she started to have significant memory problems during her art classes. Women are more susceptible to chronic fatigue syndrome, and the condition usually appears between 40 and 60 years of age.
“About three quarters of my life is in bed resting.” – Susan Henderson, chronic fatigue syndrome patient
It does not take much to bring Susan to the point of exhaustion. A long phone conversation or a trip for groceries can be all it takes. The lack of awareness about the condition has also led to some insensitive feedback from other people, including her own family. Some have suggested that the condition is all in her head, or that she needed to pray more for a cure. Unfortunately, such responses are all too common for rare disease patients.
Susan has given up on trying to make everyone understand, but she has a valuable support group that includes other chronic fatigue syndrome patients that has helped her cope. She also relies on prayer and meditation in order to manage the syndrome.