I remember when I was about 14 I had some sort of weird chronic fatigue thing that was never properly diagnosed. My short-term memory disappeared, I kept falling asleep in class despite getting enough sleep, and I had bad muscle pains. My doctor at the time thought it was ME, but didn't want to explicitly diagnose that because she said it wasn't a "useful" diagnosis. Essentially, even now, more than 10 years later, no one knows what causes ME and there is no real treatment for it.
Now, I know from a friend with ME/CFS is that it's like having flu all the time. So just now I decided to do a web search for the symptoms. And this is where the hellfire and damnation come into it. Here's a list of ME symptoms by the doctor who first reported the illness. Let's play the "How many of these do I have?" game. Things underlined are a yes, things in bold are a "Hell, yes!".
1. Fatigue (100%) - usually made worse by physical exertion.
2. Cognitive function problems (80%) - attention deficit disorder, calculation difficulties, memory disturbance, spatial disorientation, frequently saying the wrong word - Absolutely for the memory trouble. Since I've started being ill again, my short-term memory has gone to pot, as I've described recently.
3. Psychological problems (80%) - depression, anxiety, personality changes, usually a worsening of a previously mild tendency, emotional lability (mood swings). All of the above.
4. Other nervous system problems (100%) - sleep disturbance, headaches, changes in visual acuity, seizures, numb or tingling feelings, disequilibrium (?), lightheadedness - feeling "spaced out", frequent and unusual nightmares, difficulty moving your tongue to speak, ringing in ears, paralysis, severe muscle weakness, blackouts, intolerance of bright lights, intolerance of alcohol, alteration of taste, smell, hearing, non-restorative sleep, decreased libido, twitching muscles ("benign fasciculations").
5. Recurrent flu-like illnesses (75%) - often with chronic sore throat.
6. Painful lymph nodes - especially on sides of neck and under the arms(60%)
7. Severe nasal and other allergies - often worsening of previous mild problems (40%)
8. Weight changes - usually gain (70%)
9. Muscle and joint aches with tender "trigger points" or Fibromyalgia(65%)
10. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, intestinal gas - "irritable bowel syndrome (50%)
11. Low grade fevers or feeling hot often (70%)
12. Night sweats (40%)
13. Heart palpitations (40%)
14. Severe premenstrual syndrome - PMS (70% of women)
15. Rash of herpes simplex or shingles (20%)
16. Uncomfortable or recurrent urination - pain in prostate (20%) (well, this one would be a bit tricky for me).
17. Other symptoms: rashes, hair loss, impotence, chest pain, dry eyes and mouth, cough, TMJ syndrome, mitral valve prolapse, frequent canker sores, cold hands and feet, serious rhythm disturbances of the heart, carpal tunnel syndrome, pyriform muscle syndrome causing sciatica, thyroid inflammation, various cancers (a rare occurrence), periodontal (gum) disease, endometriosis, easily getting out of breath ("dyspnea on exertion"), symptoms worsened by extremes of temperature, multiple sensitivities to medicines, food and other substances.
Um. I know you're not supposed to use diagnostic criteria as a checklist, but - for God's sake - I have almost all of those! And I can't think of a single thing that's wrong with me that isn't on that list! I mean, honestly - every single one of my ailments is in the symptoms there.