A fifth-grade bully, a blossoming romance, a late-night crash
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Floyd Skloot is the author of Poppies, a collection of poems, and Summer Blue, a novel forthcoming from Story Line. One of his essays, about illness and baseball, was reprinted in The Best American Essays of 1993. He lives in Amity, Oregon.
When I heard the first melancholy notes of the cello in Schumann’s A Minor Concerto, my world changed. I knew the music of illness when I heard it.
I’ve been a medical research subject for two years now. A human guinea pig. There never really was a choice. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), an illness for which there is no cure or treatment, an illness so misunderstood and misnamed that it has been virtually ignored by most medical practitioners and researchers. Calling this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is like calling Parkinson’s disease Chronic Shaking Syndrome: the name addresses the symptom not the cause of the disease.
There’s a lot wrong with me. Researchers in Maryland have cultivated several viruses from my blood and spinal fluid, revealing that those viruses are rampant in my body. My body’s immune system flails away at them without success.