I just joined this board. I'm a 54 year old single male diagnosed with aspergers syndrome. I live alone.
I will try and make this as brief as possible, but it won't be easy.
I have suffered from severe depression for 30 years, and severe fatigue since 2006. The fatigue got so bad in recent years that I was basically unable to work for two 3-6 month stretches (Mar-Aug 2007 and Aug-Dec 2008). I am now doing quite well and am back to working full time, but have exausted most of my sick leave.
Anyway, here is the story. I really haven't been adequately diagnosed by any doctors and so i am sort of looking for some answers to what I have experienced. Thanks for any advice.
My two lengthy periods of incapacitation both began with increasing fatigue, then heart palpitations which seemed to drain all of my remaining energy. FOr the first two to three week each time, I was bedridden. Then continued recovery would be very slow, but essentially complete within 3-6 months.
Usually excercise would trigger the first palpitations, but then they would continue, taking on a variety of forms, for 2-4 weeks before easing off. Since aug 2008 now, I've experienced some type of palpitation (lately irregular or speeding up/slowing down heart beat) just about every day.
My first episode of incapacitation was characterized by severe nightime palps accompanied by panic symptoms and sensations of imminent death. I would wake with them frequently and feel unable to breath. I had no chest pains but experienced heavy chest pressure like my heart had swollen and was sore. Two trips to the emergeny room revealed no problems. Further testing (EKG, stress test, sonigram, blood work, etc) were all negative. But I could not work even part time for three months. The first two weeks, I could not be out of bed for more than 1/2 hour at a time due to fatigue, stress and palpitations.
My second episode had a lot more symptoms. An irregular heart beat began in July 2008 and excercise would bring about "clouds" in my head - reduced mental clarity and focus. My heart pounded at night. I often felt faint in the mornings. Then on July 30th, more serious palpitations began. The first one was preceded immediately by a sharp numbness in my left wrist. I immediately went to bed and circled the wagons. Again, I was off work for another three months. More ER and doctors visits followed which again were mostly negative. My austim makes me appear anxious all the time, and so the doctors implied that this might all be an anxiety related problem. But with so much fatigue? My blood simply did not pump for three weeks. Attempts to take out the garbage would land me back in bed with very strong and severe heart palpitations. The worst landed me in the ER and was accompanied by strong pain below the left nipple. MY heart seemed to squish and contort and make gurgling noises. All the while, I was "out of it" mentally, almost unable to speak and communicate. Palps again came at night, and I would often wake up in the "terror zone" where I was conscious but seemingly "brain dead". Palps would ensue and my brain would soon wake up. Other symptoms included numbness in the right arm, lower legs and back, extreme shortness of breath, episodes of very rapid heartbeat accompanied by sweating and mild fever, strong chest pressure, frequent random pains in the extremities, and skipping heart beats (where the legs would temporarily feel numb). In general, I did not experience nausea or other GI problems.
In Nov 2008 I resumed work, but physical fatigue still reduced my level of functioning severely every day. Short walks. lots of rest. Part time work.
But in the past month, I finally, really miraculously, feel "normal" again. What a relief!!
OK, I am 6' 2" and weigh about 265. My diet has not been very good for decades as i live alone. A few years back, my regular doctor during an examination felt my belly which had become quite distended and muttered something about "malnutrition". Nothing more was said, however. For decades my diet was often laced with chips, prepared foods, soda and fast food. I finally got wise in 2007 and really worked to improve my diet. I cut out the caffeine and added lots of vegetables, but I didn't lose weight and still consumed a ton of salt. In fact, four straight days of eating nothing but salty asian food preceded my July 30th 2008 palp episodes.
So, I finally cut out the salt too and in the past two months, have made a startling recovery. I am so relieved, feeling better than I have in four years.
I can walk and talk at the same time again(seriously, and this is autism related, but imagine not being able to carry on a conversation while walking due to fatigue).
Anyway, I'm sorry to go on, but my autism makes me heavily dependent on the internet and I am used to writing rather than speaking. Also, it makes me very socially isolated, and complicates doctor's visits and diagnosis. I have other mental disorders, have trouble speaking anyway, and suffer great anxiety when I do have to speak and listen.
Thanks for any advice. Could this all be diet related? Neither I nor my family has a history of this sort of thing and my overall physical health otherwise is good - no other chronic condition or complicating factors. So that is why diet looms as a potentially important factor in my mind.