Well, here we are — a mere five days into 2018 — and I feel like I’ve just ran from coast to coast. And it wasn’t a winner’s sprint to victory. If you struggle with fatigue, you know what I’m talking about. The usual routine can leave you drained of all energy. But when you add the demands of the holiday season — WOW! Spent just doesn’t seem to describe the exhaustion, or the effects that it can have on the body. At times, getting through the day feels like a test in survival.
Fatigue is common among patients with Chronic illnesses. And 133M Americans live with at least one, in some form. The symptoms vary, from one patient to the next, but all of them are difficult, i.e. excessively tired, headaches, dizziness, pain, muscle weakness, slowed reflexes, moodiness, impaired hand-eye coordination, short-term memory problems, low motivation, etc.
Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about sleepiness. If you stay up all night to watch a baseball game that went into extra innings, you know why you feel sluggish the next day. Sleepiness is not fatigue. The first is a short-term problem. The second is not. Fatigue is like the house-guest that just won’t go home. Once it moves in, your body is never quite the same. Sleepiness is the result of a bad choice. Fatigue is usually the signal of a severe medical condition. Due to the lack of effective treatment, doctors used to give little attention to a patient’s fatigue. Thankfully, in the last 20 years, that has changed.
We now know that fatigue itself can be a Chronic illness. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) as it is sometimes called, has no single known cause. It has been diagnosed in patients, following a viral illness. In others, it followed a major physical or emotional trauma. And in some, it followed exposure to toxins.
If you are suffering from fatigue, you should talk to your doctor. Discuss ways to possibly reduce the symptoms. Talk to others who have chronic illnesses. You aren’t alone. For some patients, a healthy diet and exercise has proven to be beneficial. So, listen to your body. Rest. Limit alcohol consumption. Drink water. Find an option/s that will work for you. When you live with a Chronic illness, you have enough to juggle every day. Don’t allow fatigue to make the management of your disease more difficult. Learn how to fight back.