The post in post-infective fatigue syndrome indicates that an infection was the catalyst for the illness. In effect, I had an infection and my body successfully fought it off, but something went wrong in that process, which led to PIFS.
But there’s no way to what the infection was. For a lot of people it’s glandular fever (aka mono, aka the kissing disease – which is more aliases than some spies have). But I didn’t have glandular fever.
The doctors said the initial infection could have been subclinical, meaning I was never aware of it. (There’s also no way of knowing if the doctors have correctly diagnosed the condition. It seems like I have PIFS, but there’s no test to prove it. They tested me for literally every other testable condition, sometimes twice, then threw up their hands and said, ‘Huh, must be PIFS then.’)
This mysteriousness leaves me constantly wondering what actually caused my illness.
I have no way of actually knowing until medical science can give me some better information. But that doesn’t stop my brain from trying to be helpful by interrogating everything I’ve ever done/encountered as a possible suspect. Hey, my brain constantly interrupts, could it have been –
- The chestal rash I had in 2014, that appeared randomly and vanished after three days?
- The grapefruit addiction I developed in 2016?
- The time I was bitten by either a gigantic spider or a tiny vampire?
- Any of the other 82,937 mystery bug bites I’ve had since bugs abruptly added me to their directory of high-end cuisine? (My blood is the insect equivalent of Michelin rated.)
- The brief period I used the basement stairwell in our apartment complex, which smelled horrendously mouldy, resulting in trillions of mould spores holidaying in my lungs?
- Any other of dozens of mould-based situations? Brief Encounters with Suspicious Mould is a book I might definitely write.
- Alien abduction that’s been conveniently wiped from my memory?
- Encountering some bacteria or virus in Bhutan / Uruguay / Morocco / Cambodia / Mexico / Malaysia / Armenia / Portugal / Vietnam / Bolivia / Thailand / France / Japan / Malta / Turkey / Queensland / North Korea / Peru / etc that set in motion a complex series of biological processes resulting in PIFS?
- That time I ate alligator?
There’s absolutely no evidence for any of these theories in my personal case. Regardless, my brain has lots of extra time these days, so it obsessively spends that time picking through memories, examining them under its ultramicroscope, cataloguing and ranking them.
Here’s what scares me most: because I have no idea how I got PIFS, I never had a chance to prevent myself from getting it. I likewise can’t suggest to anyone else how they might prevent it. Keep your fingers crossed, I guess! And maybe avoid both gigantic spiders and tiny vampires, that’s just solid life advice.