Walking across Michigan with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Imagine feeling so overwhelmingly exhausted that you cannot think straight, and most likely, cannot get out of bed.  No matter how much you sleep, you still feel exhausted and you suffer from headaches, muscle weakness, and pain as well.  These symptoms are a part of daily life for 20-year-old, Koerner Gray Buchta of Grand Rapids who suffers from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It is estimated that over 800,000 adults suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the United States, however only about 10-20 percent have received an actual diagnosis.  While there is currently no known cure, doctors also have trouble diagnosing and treating as the symptoms and course of treatments change continuously in their effectiveness.

Koerner began experiencing symptoms when he was 12 years old, but did not receive his official diagnosis for five more years.  He experiences constant exhaustion that was not relieved by rest, headaches, insomnia and muscle pain.  Koerner dropped out of high school his freshman year when he became bedridden with his illness and remained that way for nearly two years, and stating that the illness derailed his life.  He returned to school his senior year once he had begun to understand the limitations of his illness and is currently working to attend college part-time, saying that he feels more physically capable than he did two or three years ago.

As a result, Koerner vowed to raise awareness and funds for the CFIDS Association of America, which is the largest Chronic Fatigue Syndrome advocacy and research organization in the United States, by walking across the state of Michigan.  He began his walk from Detroit to Holland on August 18th, 2012 and finished on November 17th, 2012.  Chronicled through Koerner’s website, Facebook and Twitter, he averaged about five miles per day and mentioned that the key for him was to go very slow, noting that the walk itself helped him reach a level of acceptance towards his illness.  Nevertheless, Koerner stresses that he did not want to give the impression that everyone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome could do something like this.  In fact, approximately 88% of people with the disease never experience remission symptoms.

Though Koerner successfully completed his walk across Michigan and is now resting and recuperating, you can still donate to the cause and help raise essential awareness to the battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

How has walking changed a part of your life?

Kristin Coppens

About Kristin Coppens

Kristin Coppens is responsible for BCBSM coverage of the West Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Upper Peninsula regions. Kristin is a writer, social media enthusiast, and information junkie. A self-proclaimed foodie, techie, and political nerd, she is a dedicated promoter of Grand Rapids community development, urban engagement, arts, healthcare, wellness, supporting and buying local, entrepreneurism, and the city as a whole.
 
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