Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fatigue Fine Line


One of my newest theme songs should come from Johnny Cash. The one that goes, "I walk the line......because you're mine". Unfortunately, I'm walking the line because fatigue is mine. 

I know that I have posted frequently about fatigue, and I don't want to whine about walking the line, (can't help myself, sorry) but it's a big problem for me and most others dealing with autoimmune disease. 

The most difficult thing about managing fatigue is knowing where the line exists. What is doing enough? What's just being lazy? And just when I think I've figured out where the line is, it moves. The darned line seems to move day by day, and in all my bumbling around, I pay a steep price for overstepping my limits. 

Case in point - yesterday, my daughter and I went shopping. Her fall semester for college starts next week, so we had a great time finding the perfect pair of jeans, looking for a new laptop bag, and just bumming around in general. It was beautiful weather and we were having fun. I should have made myself cease and desist when my energy started to flag, but there was just one more shoe store beckoning......... And we always go out to lunch after our back-to-school shopping outings. 

Back at home, it was evident that I had not only crossed the line, I had left it about a mile behind me. A hyperactive schnauzer wanting to sleep in our bed last night compounded the issue. John zzzzzz'd away, oblivious, but Maggie was a blanket stealer, and liked to snuggle just under my chin. 

So today, I have to take what's coming to me - I have spent the day horizontal. This is frustrating, to say the least. 

Fatigue is a major problem in many diseases. This article by  Arthritis Today Magazine, describes fatigue this way:
If fatigue were a living being, it would be a spoiled brat, demanding your constant attention and refusing to be ignored. And it should not be ignored: Fatigue can mean something sinister is lurking. 

Fatigue’s nagging works: The symptom accounts for 10 million doctor office visits each year – many of which are by people with arthritis-related conditions. Up to 98 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) report fatigue, as do 50 percent or more of those with lupus or Sj√∂gren’s syndrome. The percentage grows higher when obesity, depression or conditions like fibromyalgia, congestive heart failure, lung problems or chronic headaches are present, too. 
Of course, many other conditions including anemia, cancer, infection, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, to name just a few, can cause disabling fatigue. 

Knowing that so many others out there deal with these same frustrating issues helps me somewhat. I certainly wouldn't wish a disease state that causes fatigue on anyone. But when I feel myself sinking into a poor-me state of mind, I think about all of my counterparts in this frustrating line tiptoe exercise.

You can read more about fatigue causes here, and here.

I wish I had some valuable pearls of wisdom to share regarding management of this crummy problem. For me, summoning some measure of self control during my energetic days is critical in reducing the number of crash and burn days. Then there's all the other common-sense strategies, which you can read here, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic. 

Image by LittleMan

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