In 2006, everything slowed down for Warner Robins High junior Ryan Prior.
"Just walking a couple hundred yards was hugely, hugely draining," he says. It was a big change of pace for the student council president and multi-sport athlete.
After months of low energy, muscle pain, and mental fogginess, doctors still couldn't nail down a cause.
"I had to see an infectious disease specialist, a couple rheumatologists, an endocrinologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, a pretty long list of people. They were ruling out things like Meningitis, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, brain tumors, cancer," says Prior.
After all of that, the only diagnosis they landed on was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Doctor Richard Jones from Macon says it's a diagnosis of exclusion. "Many doctors don't like it," he explains. "The bottom line is it's a problem for doctors; it's a problem for patients. In other words, there's no easy answer."
With that, comes a difficult treatment strategy.
"There are medicines for each of the different subgroups of their symptoms, but there's no one specific drug, like for a certain type of cancer, you give a certain type of chemo. It's not like that. There are too many unknowns," says Jones.
Prior says he gets an IV treatment once a month, a shot once a week, and takes 15 to 20 pills per day. That's a $5,000 treatment that's not covered by insurance.
What works for Prior, may not help the other one million Americans suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
For Susan Maddox of Macon, it was a matter of knowing her limits.
"Your arms would be tired from combing your hair, but over time you're able to adapt and get a lot better at dealing with things," she says.
Maddox created a support group for other Chronic Fatigue patients in central Georgia to help them learn the same lesson.
As for Prior, it's not just about helping people with the disease. He says educating those without it is just as important.
"They're not taught this stuff in medical school. That's one of the biggest problems," he says. "So, we need to train young doctors to inspire them to see how bad it is and what they can do about it."
Prior graduated from UGA last December. Now he and a fellow Georgia alum are trying to raise at least $12,000 to put together adocumentary that they plan to showcase across the county and overseas.
"There's a lot of despair, and we have to be accurate in showing just how bad it really is, but there is room for hope. There is a lot of inspiring research that's going on both into the cause and possible cures," Prior says.
To promote even more research, Prior wants to start up an eight-week fellowship program at various medical schools.
His ultimate goal is to give Chronic Fatigue patients the tools to get their lives back up to speed.