Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex, only partially understood multi-system disease whose onset and severity vary widely. Symptoms include overwhelming fatigue, post-exertional malaise, sleep disruptions, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, orthostatic intolerance, cognitive impairment, etc. ME/CFS is a physiological disease with an onset often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection, and sometimes by toxins. Some patients have a mild case and are able to function nearly on a par with healthy individuals, while others are moderately ill and still others are severely, or even, very severely ill. The cohort of moderately to very severely ill is often housebound or bedbound, has lost employment or career, and has engaged in a long, and often futile, search for treatment and relief. Here, we present three case studies, one each of a moderately ill, a severely ill, and a very severely ill person, to demonstrate the complexity of the disease, the suffering of these patients, and what health care providers can do to help.
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