Basic Stuff

  • Name: Cort
  • Country: United States
  • State: Nevada
  • City: Henderson
  • Gender: Male
  • Age: 63
  • Education: Masters Degree
  • Primary Illness: Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS)
  • Diagnosis:
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
    • Fibromyalgia (FM)
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Environmental Illness (EI)
  • Year Illness Began: 1980
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the United States when illness began: Yes
  • Year of college when illness began:

Functioning Interrupted

Former Level of Functionality: 100
(No symptoms at rest; no symptoms with exercise; normal overall activity level; able to work full-time without difficulty.)
Current Level of Functionality: 50
(Moderate symptoms at rest. Moderate to severe symptoms with exercise or activity; overall activity level reduced to 70% of expected. Unable to perform strenuous duties, but able to perform light duty or desk work 4-5 hours a day, but requires rest periods.)

Work Interrupted

  • Former Occupation: Student
  • Job Responsibilities at Former Occupation:

    Full-time student at the University of California at Santa Cruz

  • Current Occupation: Owner of Health Rising
  • Current Job Responsibilities:

    Producing blogs, creating projects, and overseeing the Health Rising website.

  • Years of Work Lost: 14
  • Current Work Status: Still working

Income Interrupted

  • Minimum Current Annual Income Loss:


  • Total Projected Economic Losses For Years Not Worked:


Other Interruptions

Certified Disabled: No

  • My parents or other family members have provided financial support
  • This illness has severely impacted my ability to financially prepare for retirement
  • I declared bankruptcy as a result of medical bills and/or loss of work
  • I was unable to attend college/university as I had planned
  • I reduced my work hours
  • I took on jobs with less responsibilities than I otherwise would have
  • I had to move back into my parent’s house
  • I have been unable to or found it very difficult to date
  • I believe this illness contributed significantly to a divorce or loss of an important relationship

Most Impactful Loss

Honestly, my ability to exercise and the healthy feeling I got from it is the thing I miss the most. I used to love to exercise - go on long walks, run, swim, bike, and backpack. Exercise was an integral part of my life and I loved how my body felt doing it. I hardly remember the feelings of wellness and strength that I had.

My Story

Long ago and pretty far away I was an athletic student running through the redwood forests on the Univ. of California at Santa Cruz. I had found my calling - environmental studies - and was thoroughly engrossed in nature.

Looking back - what potential that time had! What a unique set of people were there! I now wonder what happened with them.

I was doing tremendously in my studies - but then my thighs began to ache, I became more and more fatigued, I felt like the blood was pooling in my feet and I had to lie down. Lying down my heart would pound, pound, pound, and I wondered how much it could take. Forty years later I can still remember it vividly.

I dropped out of school around 1980. I was emaciated and in pain. Nobody - not the doctors, not the therapists - nobody had a clue. My tests were all normal. A stint in a temporary mental facility had no effect. I mostly lay in bed.

Then I did something called the EST training that my mother had done. It had a remarkable effect that I still marvel at today. It lit a fire - got me going again. I was still unable to exercise, still often exhausted, still not myself, still feeling like I was just hanging on, but I was back on the move. I shudder to think what would have happened if not for that program.

I worked mostly part-time at some crummy jobs - never anything with any real responsibility and eventually managed to get a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and finally, in what probably broke a record for duration, a Master's Degree in Environmental Sciences. A severe case of chemical sensitivities hit which left me sleeping outside or in my car - a situation, which while considerably better, persists today.

School I could do. Work was another issue but I ended up lucking out. I lucked out when I created Phoenix Rising in the mid-2000s and then Health Rising in 2012. I couldn't do much physical work but I could still read and write and so - thoroughly dissatisfied with the content on ME/CFS/FM on the web - I read and wrote, and read and wrote, and that's basically what I've been doing for the past 17 years.

Besides the opportunity to be immersed in a subject that's had such an impact on my life Phoenix Rising and Health Rising provided some income - a little at first but more later on. I was fully or partially supported by my father for many years. By the time he passed away a couple of years ago, though, I was able to finally support myself.

Relationships were always problematic given my physical limitations but I finally did meet someone - who also has ME/CFS - and we've been together for almost 7 years.

Over forty years later, I'm still kind of amazed that it happened - and that it never got resolved! It's a head-shaker for sure.

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