Phoenix Rising Articles

Invisible Disabilities Week Is Oct. 13 - 19, 2019

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Invisible Disabilities Week Is Oct. 13 - 19, 2019

by Jody Smith​

The ME/CFS community is all too familiar with the realities of invisible disabilities. As a matter of fact we are rife with them. For this reason, we're happy to make some noise for Invisible Disabilities Week.

If you have an invisible disability, you're living with one or more physical, mental or neurological challenges that other people might not be aware of. Some people living with disabilities might still be quite functional. Or then again they may not. Many fall somewhere in between.

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Some are able to work, but have no energy at the end of their work day. Others can only hold down a part-time job but manage to take care of their daily personal needs. And then others need help in their day-to-day lives. Many invisible disabilities alter life substantially.

According to the 1994-1995 Survey of Income and Program Participation...

Never Enough Hours in a Day With ME/CFS

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Never Enough Hours in a Day With ME/CFS

by Jody Smith
There just aren't enough hours in the day for the person with ME/CFS. At least, it's been like this for me. It's not that I'm so terribly busy. Indeed, I am not. Not like I used to be busy, before illness.

The complicating factor and really, the only factor I have any control over, is the amount of what I'll call white space necessary to get through a day without falling on my face.

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If I'm doing things right, I might be able to go visit my dad at his nursing home for half an hour in the morning, maybe even a few times in a week. I might even be able to spend half an hour doing some errands.

But then I'd better have a couple of hours with no demands after that. And it would be even better if I had nothing else going on till I make dinner. And best if the evening has no obligations at the end of such a "busy" day.

Ideally, I'm only this active every other...

August 8th, 2019: Understanding and Remembrance Day for Severe ME

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August 8th, 2019: Understanding and Remembrance Day for Severe ME

by Jody Smith
We in the ME/CFS community mark August 8th, 2019, on our calendars and in our hearts. On Understanding & Remembrance Day for Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, we seek to increase awareness about what our most severely ill endure. And we remember and honour those who have passed away without cure or respite, and those who continue to live in dark and silent solitude.

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Our first Understanding & Remembrance Day for Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis was August 8th, 2013, launched by the 25% M.E. Group. The concept for this day originated with Diane, whose daughter Lili was severely ill with ME/CFS. Diane tells Lili's story here.

The date August 8th was chosen by the 25% M.E. Group because it was Sophia Mirza's birthday.

Sophia...

Do You Have to Travel Far for ME/CS Medical Visits?

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Do You Have to Travel Far for ME/CS Medical Visits?

by Jody Smith​

One of the things that can strike fear into the heart of a person with ME/CFS is the prospect of going to the doctor. Worse yet is the ordeal of having to travel a long distance for such an appointment. An hour or two traveling is bad enough but sometimes it’s necessary to be on the move for days, particularly if a specialist is involved.


Even a few minutes in the back seat of a car, lying down with eyes closed, can be crash-inducing for those who are severely ill -- that is, the people who need medical help the most.

Ironic, isn't it?

Consider having two people accompany the patient for the journey, if at all possible. That way the person with ME/CFS is surrounded by...

The Crash that Follows the Push of ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day

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The Crash that Follows the Push of ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day

by Jody Smith​

It's been about a month since the ME/CFS community pulled out all the stops for our May 12 International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day. I think we have a great deal to be proud of, and encouraged by. With each passing year this bunch of chronically ill people and the people who care about us make bigger ripples in bigger ponds for ME/CFS awareness.
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People have used up their last brain cell and spent their allotment of energy for this day and for the whole month of May. Of course, there's a price to be paid.

There has been a deep calm — or at least, a lack of action — here in my house, and I think in the homes of many members of our ME/CFS community. I attribute this to the push/crash that so often surrounds our May 12 International ME/CFS and FM...

May 12, 2019 Is International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day

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May 12, 2019 Is International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day

by Jody Smith​

International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day 2019 has grown from an idea conceived by Thomas Hennessy, Jr. back in 1992. He chose the date of May 12 because it was the birthday of army nurse and Red Cross founder Florence Nightingale, who lived with an unidentified chronic illness for the last 50 years of her life.

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This year marks 27 years since our Day's inception. That was also the year that I first became ill with ME/CFS. As of May 12, 2009, I had only been healthy enough to be back online for a matter of weeks. I had never heard of our Day. But I gradually got caught up.

I started writing about International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day a couple of years later. And back then it was easier to do so in a way. Not that there was a lot of information online about it at least not that I could find. But something started to...

Why Is it so Hard to Learn New Things With ME/CFS?

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Why Is it so Hard to Learn New Things With ME/CFS?

by Jody Smith​

On good days, I mostly operate on cruise control, with the occasional moment of brilliance and quite a bit of vegetative regeneration. I can handle most things especially if they are routine and familiar. Bring in something new, though, or something I haven't dealt with for awhile and it's a whole new ball game. One I don't tend to win.

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I used to be pretty smart, and a darned good multi-tasker. Just sayin'. I could give homeschooling advice on the phone while sorting out two or three squabbling kids, writing notes to myself and making lunch, and still have brain-space to spare. That all changed with ME/CFS.

I know that everyone runs into snags when they're learning something new, or revisiting something they used to do. The accompanying challenges that I deal...

Why Is Music So Hard for People With ME/CFS?

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Why Is Music So Hard for People With ME/CFS?

by Jody Smith
Oh, how I love music! This magic can lift our spirits and calm our weary minds. Maybe it can even help us heal. Goodness knows, we who live with ME/CFS need these things. We're probably not getting much of this elsewhere. So if music is so good for us, why is it so hard to have it in our lives? Why, for many of us, is music so exhausting?

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Sorry, I have no real answers to these questions. Just more stories.

I think I was a fairly typical adolescent of the 1970s. I spent as much time attached to my little transistor radio as I could. Like many teenagers, I didn't have a great deal of control over my life. I didn't like school and I immersed myself as much as possible in a world of music.

I spent time with friends who were musicians. I lived with a musician for five years starting in University. We often had...

Despite Our Losses, People with ME/CFS Want More

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Despite Our Losses People with ME/CFS Want More

by Jody Smith

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We've been cheated by ME/CFS and we all know it. That's a no-brainer, if you'll pardon the cognitive pun. And loss didn't just result from the bad things that befell us. It also encompasses the good things that just ... never came. The absence of bounty. Of wholeness. Of peace.

Take my family just as one example. I remind myself that my life used to be much harder. I don't have to worry that our bills can't be paid or that we can't feed our family. I no longer deal with the kind of pain, cognitive dysfunction and neurological weirdness and terror spawned by ME/CFS that I used to on a daily basis.

Listen, I'm grateful for the respite. But that doesn't erase the losses and their consequences and scars. It doesn't magically remove the boot print of ME/CFS and the poverty and the isolation...

Our Newly Ill Face Their First Holiday Season with ME/CFS

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Our Newly Ill Face Their First Holiday Season with ME/CFS

by Jody Smith

Don't look now! The holiday season is on its way. I've lived through decades of them with ME/CFS. So have many of you in our chronically ill community. That's beyond sad for all of us. But at least we have some idea what we're contending with, and have learned our ways of handling it ... or not.

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For the newly ill, though, life is suddenly full of ominous shadows and question marks. I'm betting all of us old ME/CFS veterans can remember the first time everything was ripped away, regardless of how many years ago it happened. There's no pain quite like that first onslaught.

I remember the Herculean challenge in my early stage of illness of trying to be a mother and wife at Christmas time. I used to bake and decorate and do the holiday shopping. I...

ME/CFS and the Change of Seasons: How Does This Affect You?

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ME/CFS and the Change of Seasons: How Does This Affect You?

by Jody Smith

The advent of autumn can hit Jody Smith pretty hard. She's learned a few ways to lessen the damage every year. How do you handle the change of seasons?

Summer is my best season, hands down. Fewer ME/CFS symptoms get in my way. After a while, I tend to forget that this is a summer hiatus ... but I am reminded around the end of August or early September.

And that's because the subtle but inexorable ME/CFS decline would begin. The lessening of hours of light, the warmth dissipating make for an unpleasant picture of what happens to me every autumn.

It would really throw me off at...

August 8th, 2018: Understanding and Remembrance Day for Severe ME

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Jody submitted a new blog post:

August 8th, 2018: Understanding and Remembrance Day for Severe ME

Have you heard of our Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Day of Understanding and Remembrance? Please join Jody Smith in observing this day and honoring the 25% of those with ME/CFS who are most severely ill.



Can you read these words I've written on this page? Good. Then you know that I am NOT an example of the extremely ill with ME/CFS. Because if I were, you wouldn't see or hear me. I'd be behind a closed door in my bed, trying to block out any sound or light.

Even if you were in the same house with such a person you might not see or hear them. They are likely busy focusing on breathing in and out. You'd be surprised how much work that can be...

Volunteer opportunity: Organizing Phoenix Rising articles

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This section contains all the articles that have been published by Phoenix Rising over the years. As you will see if you browse here, some of the articles are outdated--either the research has been superseded or retracted or the article features an event or campaign that is now in the rear-view mirror.

To make the currently relevant articles more prominent, we would like to create an archive section where we could house articles that are part of our history but are no longer current enough for members to want to comment on them.

If you would like to volunteer to work on this--at your own pace, with no deadline--please write to me through a conversation. This is a fun job--browsing through history. :)

Ampligen Study Sparks Hopes for FDA Approval of First Drug for CFS

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Phoenix Rising Team submitted a new blog post:

Posted by Cort Johnson


Short-take: Hemispherx provides added proof of Ampligens efficacy in ME/CFS and allays safety fears but is it enough?

Hemispherx has published a major study on the effects of Ampligen (Rintatolimod) on CFS. Ampligen has been under the gun since the FDA's refusal to approve the drug in 2009, pending more study.

A Big Blow - In what journalist (and Hemispherx critic) Adam Feuerstein called a 'staggering blow', in Dec. 2009, the FDA told Hemipherx that it could not approve Ampligen's use in ME/CFS until...

International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018

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Jody submitted a new blog post:

International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018

by Jody Smith


Thomas Hennessy, Jr., selected May 12th to be our international awareness day back in 1992. He knew that May 12th had also been the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was the English army nurse who helped to found the Red Cross as well as the first school of nursing in the world.

It is a lesser known fact that Florence Nightingale was bedridden for her last half century thanks to an unidentified chronic illness. Florence would have understood us.

We still don't get the world's mainstream press on our day. But here again, we're making inroads. And there are more of us standing on our shaky legs in more parts of the world.

Why are we intent on...

Choline on the Brain? A Guide to Choline in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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I didn't find anywhere this article from 2012 by Cort, so I post an extract :

http://phoenixrising.me/research-2/...nic-fatigue-syndrome-by-cort-johnson-aug-2005

begining of the article:

Brain metabolic activity in CFS
Three studies have examined metabolic functioning in the brain using proton magnetic spectroscopy (MRS) (Chaudhuri et. al. 2003, Tomoda et. al. 2000, Puri et. al. 2002). The levels of three metabolites (N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), choline, creatine) in the brain are examined using this technique.

Puri’s study found that CFS patients (a) have significantly higher levels of choline in the occipital region of the brain than do controls and (b) exhibit an abnormal choline gradient between the motor and occipital cortex (Puri et. al. 2002).

Chaudhuri’s study found increased choline levels in the basal ganglia (Chaudhuri et. al. 2003). A very small...

When the 'Holiday Season' Is No Holiday at all for Those With ME/CFS

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Jody submitted a new blog post:

When the 'Holiday Season' Is No Holiday at all for Those With ME/CFS

Is December getting to you? Jody Smith shares some thoughts on some of the struggles that all too often attend this time of year ...


The holiday season just doesn't live up to the hype, especially for the chronically ill and their caregivers. You people with ME/CFS know all too well what I'm talking about.

I am one of the lucky ones, and I know it. My symptoms are generally mild and while they keep my life small, I'm able to do more than many who have ME/CFS.

Today I drove for 20 minutes to a shopping plaza and picked up a few things for Christmas, then drove back home. For some people, this sounds like no big deal...

Severe ME Day of Understanding and Remembrance: Aug. 8, 2017

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Jody submitted a new blog post:

Severe ME Day of Understanding and Remembrance: Aug. 8, 2017

Determined to paper the Internet with articles about ME, Jody Smith brings some additional focus to Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Day of Understanding and Remembrance on Aug. 8, 2017 ...


Once again, August 8 is important for those of us with ME, especially for those whose illness is quite severe. I've seen Severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Day of Understanding and Remembrance in a few places with the words in a different order. I'm not sure what the original was.

I do know that whatever order the words fall into, this is a day to honor and turn the spotlight toward those who of necessity live in the dark, in the...

Invest in ME Conference 12: First Class in Every Way

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OverTheHills submitted a new blog post:

Invest in ME Conference 12: First Class in Every Way

OverTheHills wraps up our series of articles on this year's 12th Invest in ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London with some reflections on her experience as a patient attending the conference for the first time.


Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, steps from the venue

Friday the 2nd of June was a big day for me, I’d never been to a medical research conference before, and I’d been looking forward to it as a major life event, no matter what the content. As ME patients we are used to being ignored, abused and denied, or at best fed crumbs, but everything about this conference was First Class.

Top...

The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2

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MEMum submitted a new blog post:

The 12th Invest in ME Research Conference June, 2017, Part 2

MEMum presents the second article in a series of three about the recent 12th Invest In ME International Conference (IIMEC12) in London.


The 12th Invest in ME International ME Conference (IIMEC12) was held at One Great George Street on Friday June 2nd, 2017.

You can view the full conference agenda (with photos and biographies of the speakers) here and the Conference Journal is available to download as a PDF or to...