Leigh Hatcher has been an Australian TV and radio journalist and newsreader for 32 years. One day in the summer of 1998 his life turned upside down. A simple virus took him into the wilderness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for more than two years—until he found low GI. Here he tells his story.
"It began simply and suddenly. I was in the middle of our annual holiday at a great Aussie beach and after a marvellous morning in the surf, I laid down for my daily 10-15 minute ‘power nap’. For once I woke up 2 hours later, feeling as if I’d been run over by a truck.
By the end of that week, still feeling below par, I was sent off for some blood tests which showed I’d contracted a viral hepatitis. I was told to take two weeks off work and I’d be fine.
However, I kept returning to the doctor for weeks – months, struggling to describe a body and brain that were both running on empty. It seemed like something toxic was flowing through my veins. I was overwhelmed by crushing fatigue and weakness.
Within six months, I lost my high profile job as a frontline TV reporter and news reader. After a year of increasingly rarefied tests which came back ‘normal’ – (normal was the last thing I was feeling!) – I was diagnosed as suffering ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’.
I remained in this ‘wilderness’ for another year until a doctor friend discovered some research which said that for a proportion of CFS sufferers, it’s worth looking at their metabolism. I went for a 5 hour glucose tolerance test, where both glucose and insulin were tested and just for once ‘abnormal’ readings came back – in the ‘pre-diabetic’ range.
A dietitian put me on a low GI diet, with graded activity, then graded exercise, with a prediction that I’d notice an improvement in my health in two weeks! A fortnight later I returned to see her and announced – ‘You’ve given me a life again!’
Today, five years later, I’m still on the low GI diet, swimming 5 kilometres a week again and continue to revel in good health. I’m not back to 100% - probably 90-95%.
Low GI is not the ‘key’ for every CFS sufferer, but it has transformed my life and the lives of numbers of sufferers I’ve known. Coupled with exercise and a decent amount of sleep – it’s given me a life again."
—Leigh Hatcher has written about his journey through the wilderness of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just A Little Unwell. See his website at www.notcrazy.net