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I apologize for the length of this, it's been 6 months in the making (quick version at the bottom)

I'm 30 years old. My ordeal began late November 2006, I started feeling unusually fatigued, having a difficult time studying for exams, and a mild sore throat that I only felt when I swallowed. Many people were going through the flu at that time so I thought little of it. The fatigue got worse until I felt feverish, and had very strange experiences sleeping. The dreams were just empty feverish voids which scared me, as it made me feel like I was dieing. I became extremely jittery during this time, and felt that my nervous system was having problems.

Also during this time, I became extremely sensitive to cold. So much so that my legs muscles would quiver uncontrollably and threaten to give way. I live in Tucson Arizona, so I'm not a winter person, but this was a bit ridiculous. I felt the strangest sensations in my muscles, particularly the front of the legs. I felt electricity like sensations pulsing through them, similar to the feeling of quivering from cold, but much more intense. My feet started to become numb, and tingly. At times it felt like I had icy hot on my feet, as that is the best I can explain it. It wasn't a complete numbness, but not a normal sensation by any means.

This continued for several weeks, the fatigue got worse to the point where if I did anything physical, I would have to lay in bed under a blanket for 2-3 hours to recover from it. I had what I felt were mild, intermittent fevers. I started to feel the muscle sensations in my arms after a while. At times, I could feel every muscle fiber in them, it wasn't exactly pain, but it wasn't pleasant either. Kind of a prickling sensation, similar to when your arm or leg falls asleep.

My ability to talk and articulate significantly changed. I began to fumble for words frequently, one thing that had always come to me easily, was now a conscious effort. Sometimes I would simply pull up the wrong word for the situation and afterwords wonder why I had done that. After a while, it felt like my intelligence just became "turned down" like a faucet. My brain seemed only interested in basic survival functions, and doing as little as possible.

I obtained a hacking cough, and had flu-like symptoms for much of the early part of this illness. Either it was related, or I also had the bug that most everyone else was going through at that time. My intolerance to cold became extreme. I wore a jacket everywhere, even when the temperature was comfortable. Any exposure to real cold left me huddling under blankets for two hours to recuperate. I never quite had a decimating high fever, but always felt slightly feverish, at least for the early parts.

The mental and physical fatigue became so extreme I was afraid I would not be able to work. Fortunately, I had been laid off and had a month of severance which I used to recuperate. I started taking aspirin to ease the pain and fatigue, and it seemed to help greatly. Which my doctor agreed, meant this problem was an inflammatory one.

I spent months doing as little as possible, working with the help of large amounts of aspirin. At one point, I had double vision for about 3 weeks, and my vision became blurry. I was also very dizzy during this stage. I started seeing after images of things. When I looked at an object, and then looked away I would see its after image, similar to when you look at a ligth bulb and look away you would. But this wasn't a lightbulb, it was any image. This effect came and went and continues to varying degrees even now.

It is fairly likely my stomach was bleeding from the aspirin I was taking, as I noticed blackened stools during that phase. My stomach of course, suffered greatly from the aspirin, which I'm trying to fix now in addition to these problems.

After the flu like symptoms went away, my sinuses continued to drain a lot of flim, and I continued to regularly cough it up without any effort. This still persists 6 months later. Though I never have a runny nose. I was given 7 days of antibiotics (Z-pak), this did absolutely nothing. Later, I was given a 10 day course of antibiotics when they detected a possible abnormal strep count in my blood. It may be coincidental but my pain dropped significantly after the 10 day course, though it did not go away.

In addition to the fatigue, I felt the strangest sensations. The tingling and numbness in my feet felt like it would migrate up, as high as my calves. Sometimes my hands felt cold and numb when it was room temperature. I felt warmth sensations, especially on my feet, but randomly anywhere on my body. Like I had just put a heat pad around that area. At one point it was all over me, though it usually goes away after a few seconds. Possibly coincidental, but when I stopped the large doses of aspirin the sensations became much less frequent and less noticeable.

More recently I feel tension and anxiousness in my muscles. It's as if they want to contract violently. It started in my legs, moved up to my abdominals, and now is in my chest area. I get random muscle twiches at pretty much any point of my body, though usually in my arms and legs. I feel an overall mild fatigue that is constant. And an intermittent fatigue that is more painful. This fatigue manifests as a sensation like there is pepper, or hot sauce in my blood. That's literally what it feels like, all over. It comes and goes, and makes me not want to do anything.

Fortunately some 6 months later, my mental faculties have come back and I feel like I am myself again, though with diminished physical capacity. Another issue that I started noticing several months ago was a rapid, noticeable heartbeat. This comes and goes, though is agitated by physical activity. Admittedly, when I stopped taking aspirin, it has gone down to a minimum and is much less noticeable. A lot of symptoms seemed to become better around the time when I stopped taking a lot of aspirin though it could just be the course of the illness and coincidental.

Other things that have happened / continue to happen to varying degrees: I can get extremely jittery. Even with no caffeine. I used to consume a large amount of coffee, but have cut down on it significantly because of this. Varying sensitivity to cold, heat, light, sound, and vibration. Sleep disturbances, I wake up at least once a night yelling for help / panicing. I have never had this problem before, I used to sleep like a rock. For about a month I was very sensitive to being startled, and someone saying "hi" unexpectedly to me was like firing a gun off behind me. This fortunately has toned down some. I'm still left with fatigue, muscle pains, and varying degrees of sensitivities to stimulus.

What do I have? My doctor's first instinct was inactive Epstein barr virus, which was found. Then they found strep in my blood (though they couldn't tell if it was new, or old). So my doctor became split on Epstein barr (chronic fatigue syndrome), and Rheumatic fever, a complication of long term strep. Though this does not really seem like strep from what I have read.

Lyme is off the table, according to my doctor, because it did not turn up in a test. I went to an infectious disease specialist, and he told me the same thing. Furthermore, he said that even if it had shown up positive he would have discarded it because it "doesn't happen in southern arizona", it's not "endemic" to this area. Apparently statistics play a big part in how this is diagnosed. I see a flaw with that, because elephants "aren't native to southern arizona", but sure enough you can find them at the zoo here.

My link to ticks is a somewhat likely one. Six months to a year before this illness, my dog had a very bad tic infestation. So bad that I would literally wake up with them crawling on me, and occasionally attached. We had to use a professional exterminator to get rid of them. Even so, the infectious disease specialist is leaning towards epstein barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I hope he is right, and I am not suffering needlessly. I just figured I would share my story and see how closely it matched up with anyone else's situation.

I've had many, many blood labs done and nothing significant has been found, other than past epstein barr, and a positive strep (they can't determine if it's past or present).

I will summarize my past/present symptoms to make it easier:

- Muscle pain
- Mild fever
- Fatigue, ranging from mild to extreme.
- Strange sensations in feet and legs (tingling, numbness, icy-hot).
- Strange muscular sensations (prickling, tingling, burning, pepper in my blood).
- Red face. I have always been pale, but lately my face is a dull red, and I've got small acne-like pimples on my forehead, and subtle red splotches on my nose. Before this I have had a clear complexion since high school age.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Short term memory/concentration problems/emotional volitility.
- Instances of rapid/noticeable heartbeat.
- Significant muscle twitches (not the kind you get from stress). This included occasional spasms while breathing, taking extra half-breaths involuntarily, for a few weeks.
- Sensitivity to cold/heat/sound/light/vibration/caffeine/being startled.
- Vision variations, intermittent blurriness, after-images.
- Panic attacks.
- Stiffness in my neck and other joints (which has since gone away)

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