The good news is that, even if I regressed to my previous level of illness tomorrow, I'd still feel encouraged just knowing that this type of improvement is possible. I'm aware that the CFS message boards are full of long-time CSFers who experienced extended periods of improvement, followed by remissions. So I don't think I'm out of the woods by any means. I'm just trying to enjoy my improvement for as long as it lasts and, with any luck, build on it.
Key 1 - Equilibrant
First, how do I know what caused my improvement? The short answer is, I don't know for certain. Nothing is 100%. Maybe I would have improved had I done nothing. But I think I can be fairly confident in my assessment based on the timing of various improvements compared to the initiation of treatments. And when I skip a dose of these treatments and experience a setback, it confirms my initial suspicions. There's also a small amount of intuition involved.
By taking Equilibrant, which I've discussed at length in past posts, I believe I laid the groundwork for further improvement later. By itself, Equilibrant didn't lead to any tremendous improvement, but it stabilized the situation. Prior to Equilibrant, my crashes were more severe and lasted longer. But as I reported to Dr. C, I didn't feel that it was necessarily making the highs any higher. Rather, it muted the lows and made them less frequent.
Key 2 - Infrared Sauna
Later, when I added the far infrared sauna to my routine, I took a significant step forward. Building on the groundwork that the Equilibrant laid by modulating my immune system and stabilizing the situation, the infrared sauna actually raised my daily health average, so that my highs were higher (on top of the lows still being less severe).
Key 3 - Thymic Protein
The third factor is that I increase my dosage of thymic protein whenever I start to feel rundown or that a crash might be imminent. I had been taking thymic protein occasionally for almost a year, but usually only one packet per day when I was feeling most ill. More recently, I increased the dosage to the maximum of 3 per day (but again, only when I start to feel crash-y). This seems to further shorten and blunt any crashes that might have designs on ruining my day/week. The increased dosage was suggested by Dr. C (but only after inosine and several other Equilibrant co-factors failed).
If I had to rate the importance of these three treatments, I would say: (1) Infrared sauna, (2) Equilibrant, and (3) Thymic protein, although, #1 and #2 are very close. I'm not sure that either the sauna or the Equilibrant would have worked without the other, but that's only a hunch.
It seems that every PWME responds to different treatments depending on the etiology of his/her particular brand of ME/CFS. So this trifecta certainly won't work for everyone, or even anyone but me. And of course there's the usual caveat that I'm not a doctor and you shouldn't rely on any advice from me in forming your own treatment plan. But maybe this will give others some ideas of possible treatments to discuss with their own doctors.
|A rough graph of my improvement compared to the initiation of 'the key 3' treatments|
Now, if you had told me a year ago that I would achieve this kind of moderate improvement, I would have been ecstatic. But I think it's human nature to always want more. I'm of course not satisfied, and I probably won't be unless/until I can do everything I used to do. However, if ME/CFS has taught me anything it's patience. If I have to bide my time and continue with my supplement/sauna routine for several more years before I (hopefully) take another step forward, I will gladly stick with it.
Finally, I should mention that these three treatments aren't my only treatments. I still take a number of other supplements, but I believe that these supplements are less important. What I don't know is if they somehow made the improvement possible by, again, "laying the groundwork." Over time, I'll have an opportunity to experiment with slowly cutting back on some of these other supplements and gauging the results. And of course, I'll report what happens here.
As always, thank you for reading, and I wish you the best of luck on your journey toward improved health. As you know, except for a handful of dedicated and dare-I-say saintly doctors, we're mostly on our own with this complicated illness. I wouldn't have found any of these three treatments without the knowledge I picked up from the message boards and blogs (that's how I learned of Dr. C too). So I encourage others to share what works for them if/when they find something.