Imagine…

Imagine being struck down in the prime of your life.

Imagine not being able to stand for more than 5-10 minutes in the grocery line because of the severe pain and weakness that grips your legs.

Then imagine having to walk home from the store because you have no other choice; you’re so disabled that you’ve lost your job, your car, and can’t afford a cab. So you walk slowly and collapse at home with excruciating muscle spasms, as if you had walked for miles, even though it was just three blocks.

Imagine becoming so weak and almost paralyzed with stiffness that you can barely push yourself up out of bed in the morning, if you can get out of bed at all.

Imagine the fear of losing your concentration and short-term memory at a young age, grasping for common words that just a year earlier came so easily.

Imagine “life” with a chronic, disabling illness that without proper medical specialists, cutting-edge lab tests, and sufficient rest, can last for many years, even decades.

Dr. Nancy Klimas M.D., who has treated more than 2000 patients, said there is evidence that patients with CFS experience a level of disability that is equal to patients with late-stage AIDS, patients undergoing chemotherapy and patients with multiple sclerosis.

Award-winning artist Dan Becks has suffered from CFS* for 13 years. This is his story…
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Jean, Danny, and Laurie Becks, circa 1962.

Jean, Danny, and Laurie Becks, circa 1962.

Born and raised in Seattle, Dan Becks has been drawing and painting since the age of five, learning to draw by copying his favorite cartoon characters from the Sunday comics and cartoons on television.

an early masterpiece...

an early masterpiece…

He continued to show an interest in art throughout his elementary and middle school years…

Pastel drawing at age 13...

Pastel drawing at age 13…

…and at age 15 he studied with Jerry Stitt, the top watercolorist in the Pacific Northwest. Dan has called him “the best teacher I ever had”.

"Lighthouse" by Dan Becks, age 16

“Lighthouse” by Dan Becks, age 16

Dan also enjoyed taking pictures, both still photography and home movies. After high school, Dan received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Burnley School of Professional Art (now the Art Institute of Seattle) where he studied with William Cumming and won the school’s top scholarship award four out of five times.

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He worked in the Graphics Department at Boeing for four years, but left to pursue a career as a freelance commercial illustrator and portrait artist.

Clients included the Seattle Brass Ensemble, the Pike Place Market, KIRO Television, The Rainier Square Neighborhood, Generra, the Poncho Theater, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and the Seattle Public Library, among others. The “Greenlake Ducks” painting below hangs in the Emergency Room lobby Swedish Hospital’s Cherry Hill Campus (500 – 17th Avenue in Seattle).

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Dan did many portraits as well. Here are two; the first, a watercolor he did of his nephew Danny in 1983…

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…and the second is one in oil he did as a wedding gift for his friends Tony and Gina Gable, in 1990. Here’s a close-up taken while he was finishing Tony’s face…

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…and the end result, finished just three days before their wedding.

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Portrait of Caterina Serato, painted ‘digitally’, Dan’s last portrait to date.

TAKING CARE OF MOM…

Dan’s mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1987, and a year or so later, with partial dementia as well. For the next four and a half years, Dan, along with his aunt, took care of her 24/7.

She would sometimes wake up 6-7 times a night, knocking on Dan’s door, not sure what to do, not sure if she had taken her medicine. In early 1992 the family had no choice but to move her to a nursing home. She died in November 1993.

“While I am so glad that I was able to help my mom, I often wonder if I ever really recovered from the physical and mental toll that so many long-term caregivers experience,” Dan said.  He was beyond exhausted and fell into a numbing depression, not sure what he was capable of doing next.

ABOUT A YEAR LATER…

…Dan was offered a job managing a large, beautiful old apartment building called the Belroy. It was a pet-friendly building, which gave him the opportunity to take dozens of pictures of some of its colorful residents for a book idea he had planned to show to publishers.

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A TURN FOR THE WORSE…

Dan did okay there for the first 2 years or so, but very slowly and surely, an overpowering fatigue  and disturbing muscle spasms started to take over. While it may never be known, there’s a possibility that the paints, solvents, cleaners, pesticides and fungicides he used as part of his job, may have contributed to his becoming so ill.   This was no ordinary ‘fatigue’ like one gets after a long day or a hard workout — it was as so many patients with CFS/ME describe — “bone-crushing”.  Every now and then he’d have a ‘better’ day, maybe several in a row, only to come crashing down a day later.

Then on June 3, 1998, Dan ended up in the ER — so worn out, so beyond fatigued that ironically he could not settle down or sleep. A drug for sleep plus an antidepressant were prescribed, which helped for 4-5 months, but eventually had to be stopped because of the side effects.

Quite a few other antidepressants were tried in late 2000, but each one made him worse than ever. Upon stopping the drugs, Dan rebounded again, for about 10 months, until late August of 2001. He had to quit his job in February 2002.
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As mentioned above, Dan has suffered from CFS for thirteen years.

“Some days I feel like I have MS, with muscle twitching/tingling and numbness in my legs and feet, and muscle spasms in my back. Some days I can walk about five or six blocks, other days I can’t leave the house. I’ve lost 20-22 lbs since becoming ill, and in the last three years I’ve lost so much muscle that I can’t even do ONE push-up.”

“I must nap twice a day, and still don’t gain remotely enough “energy” until early evening, when I can function for 2-3 hours or so, and to some, appear “normal”. Then the next morning comes, and I feel like I’m 90 years old and terminally ill.”
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NOW IMAGINE GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK…

Dan’s sister Laurie recently asked him what he’d like to do when he is well again:

“That’s a great question. I’d love to be able to paint again, especially in oils, which I haven’t been able to use in almost ten years due to the fumes. Perhaps I could teach painting or photography while creating my own work on the side.

I’ve thought about going back to school to become a counselor, but no matter what job I end up in, I’ll be so grateful just to be back among the living. And I know that art, in whatever form, will always be a part of my life.”
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WITH YOUR HELP, IT CAN HAPPEN…

And together we can inspire others struggling with CFS*…

While no donation is too small, The Daniel J. Becks Special Needs Trust is offering signed Prints of some of the work he’s created over the years, to thank those who can give a gift of $100 or more to help raise funds for the medical tests and treatments that Dan needs.

WITH YOUR HELP, RECOVERY FROM CFS IS POSSIBLE.

Please click here or on the “How You Can Help” link at the top of the page for more information.   And check out the Updates page for the most recent news.  Thank you!

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*What is CFS?

CFS is a very serious, complicated neuroimmune and mitochondrial illness that can leave strike people at any age, and leave them disabled, even bedridden for years, often decades. It’s also a disease that goes by many names, most of which don’t even begin to describe the severity of the illness; CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), ME (Myalgic Encephamyelitis (in the UK), CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome), etc.. Rather than argue which name is the best, please take moment to read how it is described by the top experts in the country:

In my experience, (ME/CFS) is one of the most disabling diseases that I care for, far exceeding HIV disease except for the terminal stages.”(Dr Daniel L Peterson M.D.: Introduction to Research and Clinical Conference, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, October 1994; published in JCFS 1995:1:3-4:123-125)

Dr. Nancy Klimas M.D., who has treated more than 2000 patients, said there is evidence that patients with CFS experience a level of disability that is equal to patients with late-stage AIDS, patients undergoing chemotherapy and patients with multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Paul Cheney M.D., one of the country’s leading experts on CFS testified before the FDA Scientific Advisory Committee that “The worst cases have both an MS-like and an AIDS-like clinical appearance. The most difficult thing to treat is the severe pain. Most have abnormal neurological examination. 80% of cases are unable to work or attend school. We admit regularly to the hospital with an inability to care for self”

More information about CFS can be found on the “Recovery” page.

PLEASE LEAVE ANY COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS BELOW — THANK YOU!

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12 Comments

Filed under bloodwork, CFS, CFIDS, CFS/ME, ME, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction, Myalgic Encephamyelitis, Recovery, Lab Tests, Treatments, CFS Specialist, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, remedies, supplements, tests, Uncategorized

12 responses to “Imagine…

  1. Dan

    I’d like to thank all of you for taking time out of your busy day to read this blog. One’s time is their most valuable asset, and yours is so very much appreciated!

    I’d also like to thank my nephew Daniel for being my rock and my inspiration during the past 5-6 years. He’s been there for me many times when I had lost hope — I don’t think I’d be alive today were it not for his incredible support.

    Speaking of inspiring, I am so thankful to my friends Ken, Laurie, Daniel S., Chip, Angie, Thomas, Sarah, (and others) who have recovered or are close to recovery after being very, very sick for many years. They have truly been an amazing inspiration to myself and others in our local CFS Support Group.

    And finally, this blog and the Daniel Becks Special Needs Trust would simply not be possible were it not for the generous and compassionate help from my friend (Mary) Suzanne Ulloa. Thank you Su, and…

    THANK YOU ALL!

    Sincerely,

    Dan Becks

    p.s. I’ll be adding an “Updates” page very soon.

  2. Karen Soma

    Dear Dan,

    A very dear friend of mine had CFS for many years. There were times when she barely made it out of bed for 4 hours a day. Her life looked very bleak and we were so worried about her. I want you to know that today she has a good job with a lot of responsibility and a salary to match. Seven years ago no one could have imagined it possible. Take heart. People can improve eventually. Try to be patient with your body – take care of yourself.

    Remember that people care about you and are rooting for you. I am one of them.

    Karen

  3. Dan

    Karen, you are so very kind. It’s stories of recovery like that of your friend that keeps me from just giving up. I know I can get well…but it’s easy to lose hope, especially during the bad flares…so thank you so much for posting your encouraging words.

    Best regards,

    Dan

  4. Caroline Casey

    Dan is a really sweet man. Despite his own problems, he is always seeking ways to help his friends. He is also a super talented artist and aspiring writer.

    It’s hard to see him struggling with his health and worsening condition. Despite all this, he has a great sense of humor, which I find admirable. It’s really unfortunate that the care he needs is too expensive for him. I hope this site will help.

    Caroline Casey

  5. I followed a link to a link and found your blog. I’ve had ME/CFS for almost 20 years and have been housebound for most of that time. I was a clinical psychologist/sailor/bicyclist/reader/writer/pianist….some of my ‘identities’ before that time. I’m better than I was and I still have hope I’ll get well enough to function much better yet. I’m pulling for you, too. And wonderful art!

  6. cfsrecoveryispossible

    Thanks so much Pris for stopping by and checking out my blog. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been so ill for so long, but am glad to hear that you’re at least doing a little better than in the past. I’m confident that you can get well, at least ‘well enough’ as you say, and hope you’ve found some suggestions for testing here. (There are a couple more tests I need to post, along with an overdue update, but I’ve been in a very deep ‘crash’ for about six weeks and really have to pace myself, esp when it comes to being on the computer.)

    Thanks so much for your kind words — I’m pulling for you too, and for all of us stuck with this ‘invisible’ illness that is so difficult for so many to understand, including patients, doctors, and friends and family…

    Take care,

    Dan

  7. Kelly Connor

    Hi, Dan,

    I haven’t been on any of the forums the last year or so and didn’t realize what was happening with you. I think you are really onto something with the glutathione; it could be the key to turning the whole metabolic mess around (in addition to the methylation supplements that each person with CFS most likely needs).

    I bought some lipoceutical glutathione and started with a full dose, which made me too sick. I have had the Detoxigenomics profile and have several snp’s in the liver which keep me from detoxing well. So I am thinking that both glutathione and active folate and B12 may cause the body to let go of toxins too fast for the individual’s detox abilities. Thus starting slowly is a good idea. I’m so glad that you are now able to tolerate some of the B’s.

    There is a lemon/olive oil drink that is supposed to help with wasting; I have too much weight and don’t know whether it works, but it might be worth looking up (google “lemon and olive oil wasting”) and it would be simple to try it. Supposed to help within a few days.

    Thanks for your positive attitude and I am hopeful you will turn this around.

    Kelly/Cathleen/Kolowesi/Empty2void

  8. cfsrecoveryispossible

    Hi Kelly,

    Thanks so much for your comment — I really appreciate it. I agree with you — I’ve heard the same thing from others, that if one has certain genetic mutations (snps), then perhaps taking too much of the things we need (like b12/folate/glutathione) may be too much for our bodies to handle, so we have to start slow. I know I had an extremely severe reaction (that lasted for months) to too many b12’s/folates/folic/folinic acids prescribed to me last fall, so have been ultra cautious…

    The frustrating problem (as I’m sure you know) is that b12 and folate can become dangerously deficient, so what do we do? Quite the catch-22 isn’t it? 😦 Anyway, that’s why I’m hoping to be able to get the nutrigenomics test (which I’m assuming is similar to the detoxigenomics profile?), so I will know what to take, and what to avoid.

    I’ve heard of the lemon/olive oil drink, but haven’t tried it in years and years. Not sure if I could tolerate it now due to the salicylate issue — (olive oil is high in sals) — but hopefully that should resolve as well, eventually, and I will certainly keep it in mind.

    Thank YOU Kelly…I hope you’re having some ‘better’ days? Please stay in touch. 🙂

    Dan

  9. Hi there! I am so sorry you have been stricken with this terrible disease. It is awful that you lost your job. How are you surviving?

    I found your site searching for mercury methylation. I was curious about the information out there about not taking vitamin B12 as a supplement if you have mercury in your body, but find it all very confusing. I have been having trouble too for the past couple of years with several problems. I could have lost my job too, but luckily I work at home and can get somebody to fill in when needed. I had episodes of vertigo that would last for weeks and not be able to get out of bed. I had to sleep sitting up. It has been terrible. I had breast cancer and other problems. After researching and reading many books, I believe my problems were caused by poor eating habits (lots of meat, cheese, sugary foods, MSG, aspartame, lots of GMO foods, spraying pesticides on my horses and all over the place, amalgam fillings and root canals. I just had my amalgam and root canals removed. I was surprised to learn how much this can affect your health. I assume you read http://www.hugnet.com and also http://www.toxicteeth.org due to your apple tree reference. Have you tried Dr. Hal Huggins’ vitamin C-flush procedure? That helped me a lot.

    I am also now a vegan due to my Gerson Therapy for almost two years now, and I recently tried Andreas Moritz liver/gallbladder flush. I have done three liver flushes so far and have gotten out tons of stones! I am definitely on the mend now and feel much better.

    Have you tried any of these things yet? I really believe in these flushing ideas as they sure worked wonders on me.

  10. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering so badly Julia, and wish you the best for the future. I haven’t tried the liver flush or gone vegan, I’m too slight (aka SKINNY) and weakened, so I need more ‘building’ foods in my diet, but I know different diets are very helpful for different people.

    I didn’t do any substantial chelation or high-vitamin C stuff when I had my fillings out 24 years ago, so can only go forward from here. Regarding the b12/mercury issue, that’s just my conclusion based on lots of reading/research and the experience of other patients I’ve been in contact with. Some people can definitely tolerate b12, and some even methylb12, but for others, just tiny amounts can cause considerable negative reactions…

    Best regards,

    Dan

  11. mitch

    Hi! – I too suffer from CFS and thank you so much for all the amazing information. I choose to follow suit with some tests like the HTRP panel and the Methylation Pathways Panel. Where can one get these done? I’ve been searching labs to no avail. Thank you so much. Would love to know too, the DOCTOR whom you thought was so wonderful and helped you for a few years, who that was.
    Thank you much. Blessings to us with this that healing and answers come.
    Mitch

  12. Hi Mitch,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear you’re also suffering from ME/CFS, but hope you’ll remember that it is possible to recover. It’s definitely a struggle that at times can push on to the edge of desperation and despair, but others have been there and have recovered or gone into remission, so it is possible. The HTRP panel isn’t as much recommended as it used to be, but I believe it’s available from hemex.com, and the Methylation Pathways Panel is available from Health Diagnostics at http://www.hdri-usa.com/tests/methylation/. I’ll email you the name of the doctor who I’m seeing.

    Best regards,

    Dan

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