CFS: A Novel (A book review)

A friend recommended CFS: A Novel to me a few weeks ago. Since Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that affected some of my past clients, I decided to read it. I’m glad I did because it turned out to be an entertaining fictional story that incorporated a fair amount of fact about CFS.

The main character is a reporter who lives on a farm outside a small town. Several people in her community suddenly get a strange illness that sounds like CFS. While CFS has always been described as a psycho-somatic illness, (i.e., “It’s all in your head”) the local doctor knows that description doesn’t fit the people in her community. It also doesn’t make sense that it would occur in multiple people at the same time if it was a psychological disorder. Eventually the doctor seeks the aid of the reporter to research the condition. That research pulls a community together to find answers and get results.

CFS: A Novel reels you into an action-adventure story involving friendship, romance, insurance cover-ups, and small scale war. It’s a fun read with endearing characters and a rather wild climax. But the book also does a good job of telling the real story of what happens with people who develop CFS – the struggles they go through and the difficulty in finding the right treatment are outlined as the characters seek answers and solutions.

Even though it is a work of fiction, I think that reading the story might help family members understand more about what someone with CFS goes through. It can be very frustrating for a patient to hear that it’s all in her/his head, but when family members don’t realize how ill they are, things get even more difficult. If you’re a patient dealing with CFS, reading the story might help just to know that you aren’t alone.

So, if you or anyone you know deals with CFS, I highly recommend reading this book. At the end of the book the author provides a link to a website loaded with research about the disease and some treatments that are working. For someone with CFS, that by itself is worth the price of the book.

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