I’m very sick and have been for six years.

No, this post is not about a hike or an adventure outdoors. I wish it was. This is about something I’ve been going through for a very long time, and I’m ready to share my story.

Our longtime readers may remember when I got shingles on the Appalachian Trail in 2013. Well, I never regained my health. Since then and still to this day, I’ve seen dozens of doctors spanning the entire country, from New York City to Palo Alto.

Debilitating fatigue is my main symptom. Headaches, neck pain, buzzing sensations, poor sleep, muscle and joint pain, chemical and mold sensitivity, and other unpleasantries occur daily. My blood work always comes back near normal. Doctors are stumped.

The first round of medical professionals tended to arrive at simple conclusions. During sub-10 minute appointments, some told me to wait it out. Others told me to drink more water, to take extra vitamin D, or implied that depression was the cause of my problems. I’m frustrated, but definitely not depressed. Some doctors admitted they didn’t know what was wrong and sent me to specialists. I had to wait over six months for an appointment with some of these experts, but even they were unable to help.

My energy level remained low. It was stuck at 35% of normal.

Meanwhile, I tried acupuncture, deep breathing techniques, craniosacral massage, exercise, various diets, EMDR, meditation, dozens of supplements, and numerous other “alternative” solutions that didn’t require doctor referrals or prescriptions. Few of these remedies or practices made any difference, and those that did only helped a tad.

In 2015, I traveled to the Mayo Clinic in search of better answers. Their doctors and specialists ruled out many of the same big name diseases that previous physicians had. Based on my symptoms, they diagnosed me with myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). It was nice to finally have a diagnosis, but the Mayo Clinic’s treatment plan was underwhelming. It consisted almost entirely of good self-care practices I had already adopted.

Meanders by Robert Weerts. The Mayo Clinic has beautiful art like this throughout its campus. Weerts hopes his work guides people in a healing direction.

After six months of following the minor tweaks the Mayo Clinic made to my treatment plan and with no improvement in my condition, I decided I needed to keep searching for other possible causes and solutions to my extreme fatigue and pain. Eventually one doctor ordered a more thorough Lyme disease test — this is now 2016, and the results came back borderline positive. Based on that test and my history of hiking in tick-prone areas, she decided to treat me with antibiotics. When my symptoms still weren’t resolved after a month, she passed me on to a Lyme specialist.

He was much more aggressive in his treatment approach, asserting that chronic Lyme disease requires long-term antibiotic treatment. So, I did it. In October of 2016, I had an IV, called a PICC line, semi-permanently inserted into my arm. The line ran up my vein, stopping next to my heart, to enable the most effective administration of daily antibiotics. My symptoms worsened while on the powerful antibiotics, and my energy dropped to 15% of normal. The doctor said this might be a Herxheimer reaction, meaning that the antibiotics were killing bad bacteria, leaving residual toxins to clear out of my system.

picc-line-photo-cropped
Flushing my PICC line after administration of daily antibiotics

I pushed through my extreme exhaustion, continuing the treatment for ten months. Seeing no improvement, we finally removed the PICC line. To my horror, my energy level didn’t bounce back to pre-antibiotic treatment levels. I seemed to be stuck at a new normal that was even worse. I was now essentially housebound, with only enough energy to leave once or twice a week, mostly for medical appointments.

Going back to the drawing board, I looked through all my health notes and decided to re-investigate the onset of all my suffering: shingles. I asked to be re-tested for shingles (herpes zoster), and surprisingly my blood work came back positive. My body was still actively fighting the shingles infection, over four years later. I started taking an antiviral, and I convinced my primary care physician to refer me to Dr. Jose Montoya, a chronic fatigue syndrome expert with interest in the viral onset of ME/CFS.

I began seeing Dr. Montoya at Stanford’s ME/CFS clinic in January 2018 and still am to this day. My treatment so far has mainly consisted of antivirals and one anti-inflammatory drug. Dr. Montoya also stresses emphatically that I am not to overexert myself. “No crashes,” he repeats. Burning through my small energy reserve for a day could seriously impede my recovery. I have not seen any improvement yet from the antivirals but am told it can take years.

When at Stanford for my appointments, I have also been participating in research studies. I’ve helped with two so far: a neuroendocrine study and a brain MRI study. I’ve also registered to donate my body to their biobank for a postmortem study (don’t worry, I likely have many more years left, though my quality of life is low). I’m hopeful research like this will one day lead to treatments for ME/CFS and aid the millions of others who are suffering from this terrible disease.

Participating in a research study at Stanford University

Most recently, my new local doctor in Colorado discovered some elevated lab tests, indicating I also have mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS). And a physical therapist diagnosed me with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS). Quite a few ME/CFS patients seem to have these co-existing diseases. I’ve started taking antihistamines to counteract MCAS. These medications have given me a tiny amount of improvement in energy, though I’m still mostly housebound.

And that is where I currently stand. I apologize that I’ve kept my health problems hidden from everyone I don’t see face-to-face.

One reason I haven’t discussed this until now is that many people misunderstand chronic fatigue syndrome. Perhaps the name of the disease makes it seem trivial. Perhaps it’s because I don’t look sick. A common reaction, even from doctors, is to assume I’m being lazy and fabricating a disease that doesn’t exist. I’ve never been lazy in my life — not in school, sports, my job, or thru hiking the 2600-mile PCT. If anything, the opposite is the case — I work too hard!

People’s snap judgments about me and my disease can be hard to take. They say, “Oh, I’m tired too” or “You should exercise,” not grasping the seriousness of my condition. Sometimes the energy required just to shower is exhausting, leaving me unable to function for the rest of the day. I wish with all my might that I had enough energy to do more, but ME/CFS is a physical illness. It can’t be overcome by positive thinking.

sitting by lake

I could write pages about my illness. But I also want this post to be about someone else — Chris. He has been by my side through it all.

He stopped hiking the Appalachian Trail with me when I became too sick to continue. Then he found a full-time job with health insurance to support me, since I don’t have the energy to hold a job. A couple years ago he even began working for an innovative nonprofit that helps people, especially underserved populations, improve their health.

Chris shares my desire to be proactive, to try and understand what’s happening to my body, and to ceaselessly continue searching for a cure. Unfortunately there is a lack of consensus in the medical community regarding which ME/CFS treatments are effective. When a treatment shows promise but is expensive or logistically challenging, he is always supportive. He continually reiterates, “Health is #1.” Then, together, we find a way and give the new treatment idea a try.

We also make each other laugh every day. That might mean being goofy, dropping a good pun (okay, so there’s no such thing as a good pun), reciting a Tommy Boy one-liner, or leading Cheep Cheep into some Calvin and Hobbes-esque mischief. No doubt you’ve heard that laughter is the best medicine. For a deeply challenging, confusing disease like chronic fatigue syndrome, humor really is one of my best treatments. It sounds basic, yet it’s so important.

Cheep Cheep and her explorations

Sometimes dealing with this disease is emotionally difficult for us both. The sheer duration of being sick for years takes its toll. There are many unknowns, fears, and frustrations with ME/CFS. Chris is a master of patience. He reminds me to take it one day at a time. And when I’m feeling sad about the uncertainty of it all, he does the simplest and kindest thing– he hugs me.

Chris also realizes that life is a balance and shouldn’t only be focused on the medical side. Fueling my love of nature and adventure is important. He concocts low-energy variations of our former activities so I can still participate. Sometimes this means finding a remote area with a nice view just a hundred yards from a trailhead where I can sit with my binoculars and camera for hours, while Chris hikes solo up a mountain.

Back at home, Chris helped build large planters on our condo’s patio, bringing native plants, birds, bees, and butterflies right outside my window. So, even on my worst days, I get a dose of nature.

Native wildflowers growing on the patio attract butterflies.

We mostly write about hiking on this blog, but we both love to bike, too. When I lost the ability to pedal a couple years ago, Chris began researching electric bikes so I could join him with less energy expenditure and no joint pain. A neighbor sold us their used e-bike, complete with a throttle that allows me to to ride without pedaling. Even e-biking drains my energy quickly, so I can’t go far, but at least I can once again access the bike path along the Poudre River that I love.

After a California doctor’s appointment last winter, we visited family in Los Angeles. Chris found a bike shop that rents tandems along the LA River. He pedaled for us both, enabling a great mini-adventure. This is just an example of the kind, thoughtful things he does for me.

Chris pedals both of us along the LA River bike path. Photo by Joe Sofranko

Chris helps with all the non-glamorous day-to-day tasks as well. Over time he’s taken over grocery shopping, cooking, dishes, laundry, and other household chores. This allows me to save my energy for doctor visits, treatments, and medical paperwork.

Dr. Montoya gave a lecture at Stanford where he used my case as a textbook example of an ME/CFS patient. One of my favorite parts of the talk was when he said I was happily married to “the most beautiful guy…an example for many of us.” It’s true.

Okay, you get it.  Chris is the best. But I simply can’t understate my gratitude. And I wanted to shout it here so the whole world knows (or at least you, friendly reader of this blog).

I hope people will be extra kind to Chris in return. I’m not exactly sure how, but some ideas would be: following his minimalist Instagram account @walkingpace, discussing urban planning, art, bicycling, or climate change solutions with him on Twitter @inabstract, sharing his Pacific Crest Trail photography book with friends, or, if you happen to see him in person, invite the man for a beer, a bike ride, or give him a great big bear hug. 

Catalina Ocean
Chris shares minimalist natural and urban landscapes from his daily walks on Instagram @walkingpace

I recognize that sometimes people want to help me, and for that I’m grateful. While I don’t need treatment suggestions (I’ve already got a long list and am still following Stanford’s regimen), if you wanted to help, you could make a donation to ME/CFS research. Another simple way is to share a song in the comments below. I’ll put them all in a playlist and think of you and your support each time it plays. 

We’re a team! Photo by Rich Sofranko

Life since I got sick has been hard. Very hard. But I’m grateful for what I do have, especially for Chris. I’m also thankful for doctors, researchers, loving friends and family, and grateful I can still explore our incredible natural world a little.

ME/CFS research is progressing, and I have some treatments still to try. I’ll keep smiling. And I won’t give up.

65 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story.
    My sincerest thoughts are that you find a cure. Until then I hope people will be supportive.

  2. We started following you both on your Appalachian Trail hike and were sorry you had to stop. We followed some of your later trips but then there was nothing till now.
    Thank you for the courage to share what you and Chris are dealing with. It’s heart lifting to see how you two have grown closer as you problem solve issues you face.
    We look forward to future posts. Thank you for your inspiring story. Stay strong!

  3. I don’t really know exactly what to say, but I feel the need to say something. I’ve been a quiet follower for years. Your PCT hike was an inspiration for many big trips of my own, and your experience on the AT is now so relatable having had to bail on a big trip myself. I guess now you’ve both become even more of an inspiration for me, because I honestly don’t know how you’ve managed all this. Even though it is not the same as what you’re going through, my wife’s health problems and my own battles with depression often keep us from doing the things we love the most. After reading this I know for sure that I just have to keep fighting. I hope you win your fight. Thank you so much for sharing. Much love from the Ozarks.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I hope you find definite solutions soon. I can’t imagine how you feel – wanting to be active but not having any energy. So frustrating. Please keep us all posted. And know that we are all wishing the best for you.

  5. Wow! Keep fighting! Like the saying, “none of us are going to get out of here alive”. I’m a Congestive Heart Failure, Cancer survivor, I guess what keeps me going is the outdoors, much like you two. I wish you the best!

  6. One of my mom’s favorite songs was always “Every day is a winding road” by Cheryl Crow… I think it’s appropriate here too.

    You are definitely the least lazy person I knew in high school. I’m sorry you’re going through this but I’m glad you have a strong partner to support you.

    1. Dear, Strong, Sweet Anna,
      Although sadly, your physical energy is perhaps at an all-time, debilitating low of 15-35%, it’s pretty amazingly clear that your energy of spirit is soaring upwards of 200% and climbing. The former has me sending you gentle hugs; the latter inspires me. As we endeavor to climb hills and mountains, and hike perilous trails throughout our lifetimes, perhaps the most challenging and difficult ones are not traversed and “conquered” with a pack on our backs, solid hiking boots, and the physical strength of our legs, but rather with the inexhaustible endurance and strength of our spirits, minds, and souls. Anna, your are showing us that; you’re still climbing hills and mountains, and hiking unknown trails; you will conquer them, just not with your feet. Thank you for leading the way and creating a path for so many others to follow. Here’s to you, Anna!
      Love, hugs, peace, and joy,
      Jan Graham (AKA: Weber) 😘

      1. Thanks Jan. Previously I thought my purpose in life was to improve water quality for the benefit of humans and wildlife. Things change though as you saw in the post. I’m still sad that I can’t work in a field that I love. But I’ve changed my perspective and now think of my purpose as using my body to contribute to the medical knowledge of a mysterious disease that impacts millions of people. Another way I contribute is by having open conversations about ME/CFS to educate the general public. Having purpose gives me strength of spirit.

  7. Oh, Anna! I’m so sorry you’ve been going through all this. I actually teared up reading about how others may assume it’s laziness because like you said, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Chris sounds amazing and it’s so wonderful that you have a great partner through it all. Keep fighting!

    Sending you love,
    Moogs ❤️

    PS- Song recommendation: “Rise” by Superfruit

    And all of MJ because… duh 😉

    1. Thanks so much Moogs. Yesss, Michael Jackson! Such good, fun music. Also, you’ll get a kick out of knowing that I sometimes watch Bob Ross to preserve my energy and relax. You were the one who first introduced his painting show to me when I was a completely pop culture clueless teen. Now I love those “happy little trees.”

  8. It is so courageous to share- thank you Anna. I have followed your post for years ( Alexandra is here visiting me right now). I’ll definitely support ME/CFS . Love to you both.

  9. On so many levels, your playlist must include “Landslide.”
    Bonus tracks: the middle of the Thursday night performance by Aretha Franklin and the Southern California Community Choir on “Amazing Grace,” from “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to “Climbing Higher Mountains.”
    *
    Anna, thank you opening this difficult door for more to understand.
    And hear, hear to your caregiver extraordinaire. Chris was and remains one of my life teachers.
    So much love, and strength, to you both from the Delaware Valley.

  10. Hey sweet Anna: I’m so sorry you’re still dealing with this! How frustrating it must be. My best thoughts are with you for a full recovery. Life at Hawthorne could be called “interesting”, a continual challenge as I’m sure you can imagine.

    I don’t have an instagram nor a twitter acct, but I do have a question – how do you measure what % energy you have?

    Song for your playlist:
    I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) The Proclaimers

    Much love.
    Suesan

    1. That’s a good question. In an attempt to figure out the source of all my health problems, I’ve been recording my physical and mental activity level (both a number and verbal description), the intensity of my symptoms, and various other factors, every single day for several years. I also wear a fitbit which tracks my steps, heart rate, and sleep quality. This tracking has been helpful in catching problems with medication side effects or whether a particular therapy is having any effect. It’s not an exact science but I can roughly compare my current health to Chris’s health because we used to be at the same energy level.

      I hope you and the rest of the team are hanging in there at EPA. Thanks for your good wishes and for the classic hiking song to add to my playlist.

  11. Thank you Anna for sharing this with those of us who think of you often, but don’t often get to be with you. You are courageous, which means acting beyond difficulty, danger or fear. You are beautiful, which I just recently understood from a priest in Michigan can mean the expression of some kind of dichotomy in creative tension. I’m still thinking on that idea, but I intuit that it is true – I wonder what dichotomies occur to you. I ache for your wellbeing. You bring meaning and purpose to the world, through your words and actions. Steve and I will send some playlist candidates. We send unreasonably huge, manly virtual bear hugs to Chris, in lieu of in-person long conversations. I just recently laid out the beautiful PCT book in our guest room, for new guests to explore and enjoy. Much love and strength to you both from Evanston.

    1. Hehe, that unreasonably huge hug swept Chris right off his feet! Your whole comment made me smile. Thank you. Your mention of dichotomies made me think about how this illness has denied me the walking, running, and exploring I love so much. But it’s also brought a tight focus on the nearby splendor of my garden and its inhabitants. That small beauty is easy to miss, but it’s a gift. Sending lots of love to you and Steve!

  12. Anybody that knows you knows that laziness is not in your DNA. I can’t even imagine how frustrating all of this has been for you. Play a little “Scat Man” from Bob Ronker’s running camp devil takes the hind most run. Remember the good times and look forward to the good times that are yet to come. Keep it up. btw…weren’t you voted most athletic Walnut?

    1. Thanks Shawn. Such fun memories from that race! Yeah, most athletic superlative, alongside you. I’ve kept a pair of running shoes despite having not been able to use them for 6 years or anytime in the foreseeable future. I don’t see the shoes so much as a sad item (though there is definitely sadness and longing), but mostly as a hopeful reminder of my goal. That if the doctors and I can just find the right treatment, I’ll be able to run again, and do so many other activities I enjoy.

  13. Hi Anna

    I have been waiting to read your next great adventure, but was beginning to think you might have decided to have children and give up adventuring. I am stunned and appalled to read your latest post, describing the hell in which you have been living for the last 6 years. My heart goes out to you (and Chris) . I feel sure that things WILL improve , and soon. In the meantime, do keep letting us all know how you are doing so that we can feed you with positive thoughts and cheer you on.

    Take care, both of you
    Hugs
    Barrie

    1. Thank you Barrie. I hope so. There is increased research in the ME/CFS field which is promising. (Research funding is still minuscule compared to other diseases, but something is better than nothing.) Maybe I’ll aim to write a health update post every year. All of these comments are very nice to read and re-read during extra difficult periods.

  14. Thank you. Your story is profoundly beautiful and I want to tell you to continue the hopeful balanced fight. My beautiful 16 year old daughter Macy fights a similar battle. HHV6 deactivation after the Gardasil vaccination. Sudden onset neuropsychiatric symptoms OCD wanted to die. Now migraines so severe and body aches pain brain fog you know the deal. It’s a tough battle. She also had mycoplasma pneumonia. Test that too.

    1. Yes, good suggestion. I had elevated mycoplasma pneumonia values a couple years ago but they are now in the normal range. I’m sorry to hear your daughter is also sick. Chronic illness is so incredibly rough, but it sounds like she’s lucky to have you, the same way I have Chris. And I appreciate your wording of a “hopeful balanced fight.” That’s exactly what we strive for. Best wishes to you both.

  15. Thank you for sharing a bit of your incredibly difficult journey. It is an honor that you are allowing people in on your so painful world, especially since I view you as a very private person.

    The song that comes to me is Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

    Love to you both!
    M

  16. Thank you for disclosing the hardships you’ve been living these several years. Surely our prayers are with you. Keep the hope.

  17. So sorry to hear that the medical community has been unable (up to now) to help you. Praying that they find a cure for you and you can get back to doing the things you love. God Bless.

  18. Just re-reading your post and all the many beautiful comments below it and wanted to tell you how proud I am of you. You are so strong. I’m just so proud of you for writing all of that and sharing it with the world. And I’m so happy to see the outpouring of support from all your readers. I know their positive energy, affirmations, and love will reverberate strongly today and in future days. Love you.

  19. Anna and Chris, thank you for posting this. It’s troubling, it’s very powerful, and it allows people who love you to know exactly where to send blessings for healing.
    Here’s a song:

    Sending blessings,
    Helen

  20. Love you so much, Anna & Chris. Thank you for sharing your story with such truth. Always here for you for and always ready to make you laugh! :) Xoxox Lili

    Songs:
    Resolution – Matt Corby From the Cold – Cody Fry Trampled Flowers -Willa Amai Falling Water and Light On – Maggie Rogers Faith You Might – Kevin Garrett Human Way – Declan J Donovan Weathered – Jack Garratt Sort of Revolution – Fink You’re All I Need to Get By – Aretha Franklin version Conqueror – Aurora Shrike – Hozier What You’ve Put Me Through – Hank Compton Came Here For Love – Sigala Hurricane – Tommie Profitt Like a Girl – Lizzo

  21. Anna!

    My goodness! Thank you for courageously sharing your story and recounting the million different emotions that you’ve experienced. I’m so happy that you have such strong support and that you are continuing to share your SMILE. (Walnut was a brighter place because of it.)

    I’ll be thinking about you and praying for your full recovery so you can get back to the trails!

    Just to See You Smile – Tim McGraw (if you’re a country fan)

    Smile- Uncle Kracker (if you aren’t, and want a throwback)

    Hugs!!
    Sara

  22. A huge shout out to your courage and perseverance.
    A huge shout out to your wonderful, patient, loving husband Chris.
    A huge shout out for the gorgeous PCT picture book.
    A huge shout out for your recovery.
    I send you hope and illness-fighting thoughts.

    Kit

  23. Hi Anna,
    I’m your Aunt Marilyn’s college roommate, and have followed your blog since the PC trail days. Some of It by Eric Church is my new anthem this Spring. All my life, nature has been my religious space, so a new song by Eli Young Band called Saltwater Gospil, is another favorite this year. My husband Paul likes to play DJ for me to help keep my spirits up. Otherwise I never would have become a country/rock fan. Life has dealt you a tough hand, woman, but your tenacious spirit is incredibly admirable.

  24. Anna, I read each word and this post was definitely an inspiration. I’m glad to know that you’re giving it your best fight and you have Chris by your side. Check out Brother by NEEDTOBREATHE. God bless. I’m praying for both of you!

  25. My medical journey sounds very similar. The frustration of waiting months to see a specialist only to be turned away. Nobody out there to understand why you went from being a productive member of society to somebody that’s not.
    Luckily I saw Dr. Montoya at the Stanford’s ME/CFS clinic in March 2019. I’m hoping to start moving in the right direction. I too understand your love and wanted reconciliation for Chris as I too could not do this without my loving husband. His love, understanding and caring is what helps me through being housebound (along with a lot of humor like you said). Good luck and may God bless you both and your journey through this. And thank you for sharing your story – showing me I’m not alone in this and that someone out there gets what I’ve been through. Our daily struggles are real. Thank-you

  26. Chris and Anna – Your story is so inspiring !!!!. Your commitment to focus on the positive during this extremely challenging time is awe inspiring. You are teaching us so much ! We continue to pray for answers and healing to your illness . Carry on with your great work !!! Our love and prayers are with you, Anna and Chris !
    Jack & Laura Fisher

  27. We’ve known much about your challenges and responses from our family for years, and from our visit awhile ago, of course, but until I read this blog I had no idea how comprehensive and extremely difficult the journey has been, and continues to be. I was tearing up just reading about you, and then even moreso reading what you say about Chris. The only consolation I see is that you have such a remarkable partner–which you certainly deserve. You both are in my prayers. (Elisabeth and family were so glad to be able to visit with you recently.) Much love to you both, as ever. Dave, with Sasha

  28. Thanks for your bravery in sharing your story, Anna. And, thank you for taking care of her, Chris. Thank you both for making the world a better place just by being in it with the character and virtues that you live by, it’s an inspiration. And of course, if I can ever do anything, I’m just across the street! :P
    I think the song I’d like to add is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. I hear it just about every morning myself and I know you’ll cross my mind each time I hear it in the future.
    Love and Healing Vibes…
    -Ryan P

  29. I first learned of you when you were finishing your PCT hike, and quickly read all your posts on that. At the time, I was experiencing some of my worst fatigue, from lupus, and I can totally relate to how showering can be enough to exhaust you for the day. Some days I could do things, other days I felt exhausted just getting up to walk to the bathroom. I never stumbled on a magical cure, but like you, I keep trying. And for some reason, things have shifted for me, to where most of the time I have the energy I need to live a life that I want, to hike, work my body and mind. Sometimes I have felt hopeless, and grieved the life I had imagined for myself, but the thing is that we just never know what the future holds–we may get better and feel amazing, we may find ways to adapt to what we have, we may be healthy all our lives and then die suddenly. I hope you find peace with whereever you are, and continue hoping and striving for health.

    I love Brandi Carlisle when I’m feeling sad, nostalgic, angry, and powerful.

  30. Dear Anna & Chris,

    When I met you both years ago I was so impressed with your spirit and love of adventure. After reading your blog I am again impressed with your courage and tenacity in facing this challenge. My heart goes out to you both and I sincerely hope that a cure is in your future soon. Rog

  31. You need to look into LDN ( Low Dose Naltrexone ) – as you have several AutoImmune Conditions going on, and not just Lyme. Correcting deficiencies also helps – IODINE , BORON, MAGNESIUM MALATE .

  32. Anna and Chris, I began to learn about you when you hiked the PCT. I hungrily read your entries and enjoyed every step. I want to send my very best wishes to you both in this struggle to manage your illness. The one thing want to share is the phrase “NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.” Hang in there every day, visualize your wellness and hiking again. Put up pictures of what you want your life to be. I am cheering you on – NEVER GIVE UP.

  33. Anna, Thank you for letting us know what you have been going through. It is disheartening to try approaches that don’t work – and can make you worse, but you courage and determination shine through. I hope your self-care practices and time outdoors and with Chris continue to nurture you. Sending love,

  34. Anna,
    I just heard this song and it made me think of you. It is very positive and made me happy. I want it to do the same for you.
    Joy by King & Country
    Lots of love to you!!
    Lynn Sofranko

  35. Anna and Chris, thank you for sharing your story. Please know our thoughts are with both of you as you continue to fight this health issue. We admire your strength and beautiful love as you face this cross.
    Elaine and Joe Willig

  36. Wow Anna, what a story! At least you seem to have a path forward now, but I can imagine how hard this has been for you. I know how active you like to be.
    Reading your story, I couldn’t help but wonder how many ‘syndromes’ are out there. I wonder what that means for us in the future.
    Hang in there and Chris, keep up the good work.
    I don’t know if this song will inspire you (it’s in Spanish and I don’t know the lyrics), but it’s my current jam. The song is “Porque Me Enamore” by Ulices Chaidez

    (Sorry I didn’t write sooner. I don’t seem to get to things as quick as I’d like these days)

    P.S. we’ve been camping at least annually the last few years and I don’t hate it!

  37. Anna, i remember you getting ill and seeing you two post AT attempt but i had no idea what you’ve been going through. I’m so sorry to hear this.

    Believe it or not you and Chris hiking the PCT (along with me finally getting off overnight shift) was a real motivating factor in me deciding to once again prioritize fitness after letting it crater for years. I wanted to see some of the wilderness that you two went out and saw.

    I’ve made the mountains and the desert a focus ever since.

    You’re a tough lady and Chris is one hell of a partner. Wishing you good health and good fortune.

  38. Thank you so much for sharing this! I also have CFS and reading the paragraph about being afraid to tell people or not bothering to really hit home. Only a few people know I have CFS because I’m always afraid that people think I’m faking it.

  39. Wow I feel for you! You have my deepest empathy for what you go through on a daily basis. Lovingly God provides us a promise that one day soon, in His own time, he will wipe away sickness and pain and restore life on earth to its original purpose. (Revelation 21:4) How we all long for that day!

  40. I’m loving reading your blog, thank you for sharing.
    I can put an Australian slant on your playlist: Kim Churchill – Weight falls album, Amy Shark – Love Monster album, Boo Seeka and Emma Louise are some of my favs.
    Not Australian, but Aisha Badru’s Pendulum is an awesome chill album.

    All the best to you and Chris :)

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