As someone who has wrestled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for 17 years, I've gorged myself on recent headlines about the retrovirus XMRV. I've reminded myself it's too soon to know what it means for me and the vast, beleaguered CFS masses. Still, hope and speculation persists.
In one study, 95% of CFS patients showed XMRV antibodies, and 4% of the healthy controls. Elsewhere, 67% of CFS patients had XMRV. So did 3.7% of the controls.
This suggests then, that not everyone with CFS has XMRV. And maybe some healthy people carry this retrovirus.
So, maybe I don't have it. Maybe you don't. This information may be of no use to us personally.
Maybe, maybe, maybe ...
Nevertheless, it lends weight to the fact that real physiological havoc is indeed taking place in the bodies of people with CFS. That in itself is good news.
I'm repeatedly surprised by those declaring there's nothing wrong with us physically, that it's all in our heads. A little therapy, some antidepressants and getting off our duffs, and we'll be right as rain. That this is depression and we should admit it and get on with things.
Depression is a terrible thing. But it's no more CFS than are epilepsy or a broken leg. I'm hoping these new findings lead the spotlight away from such destructive notions, and in the direction of finding a cure for what IS wrong with us. That will tackle the vertigo, the orthostatic intolerance, the post-exertional malaise, the immune dysfunction, the central nervous system snarls.
XMRV joins with one's DNA. It actually changes the DNA into a new thing with an XMRV twist, taking up permanent residence. That means, if we're infected, we'll stay infected the rest of our lives unless research finds a cure.
This scenario of chronic infection certainly fits the CFS pattern many experience. We may have periods of improvement, sometimes to a spectacular degree. Then we plummet, often without warning, as apparently the retrovirus flexes its muscles yet again. XMRV makes a complicated mess of the immune system, bringing on bizarre, confusing and seemingly contradictory symptoms to the sufferer.