Post Viral Disorder

For over a decade our son Rob has been dealing with chronic fatigue. He has been diagnosed as having a form of dysautonomia called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS).

For the first part of the past decade, most physicians had little or no experience with POTS. Sometimes it was mistaken for sleep apnea. There was little reported research in medical journals.

In recent years, more has been learned about a similar condition known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS).

Rob was born just before a wave of viral encephalitis visited our community in early 1987. He was gravely ill as an infant, but he survived, with no obvious impairment during his childhood and youth. However, at around age 23, he began to have difficulty functioning at a high level due to chronic fatigue. He believes, and I concur, that the difficulty he has experienced in the past decade is the result of that childhood illness.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it an onslaught of after-effects, some of which we know and some of which are yet to be fully known. Many people who have contracted the coronavirus (even some who were asymptomatic) have begun to be among the “long haulers,” those who are living with ongoing debilitating COVID-related problems.

This huge influx of fellow sufferers has opened the floodgates of medical research as millions of people will be seeking medical help with the chronic after-effects of COVID. Ironically, this has brought some new hope to those who have been suffering for years with ME/CFS or POTS.

Medical science may discover a particular, identifiable viral cause for these related problems, illnesses, and syndromes. If that happens, a new name will be given to these symptoms that are now identified by various names. Or, it may be a cluster of illnesses that are related–similar to the many forms of cancer that are grouped into that one generic word.

It’s possible that COVID will open our understanding into a much larger reality of the human experience that might be called post viral disorder.

Rob was featured in a podcast released on September 14, 2021, produced by The POTScast | Standing Up to POTS. It is “Episode 16,” in a POTS Diaries series: “POTS Diaries with Rob from Alabama.”