Monday, 15 September 2014

Understanding Chronic Fatigue

Someone asked me the other day how I could say I was tired when I did so much. Really? I was completely blown away with that person’s total lack of understanding.

Just this past week, when I went to the store, it marked the first day in the last ten that I had left the house. First it was the cold and cough and generally feeling yucky, then it was a leftover sense of fatigue, worse than usual.

I made plans to go out that Sunday because I needed groceries and more important, I needed yarn. And look where going out got me, that’s the day I tore the tendon in my little finger and now it’s permanently bent, medically known as Mallet finger.

But it got me out of the house two days in a row as a friend drove me to the walk-in clinic on Monday to have the finger looked at and we went out for lunch.

I spend my days at home, sitting in my chair for the most part, on the computer, reading or crocheting. Without these things to occupy my day I’m sure I would go crazy.

This morning I had to take the garbage out, and as I’m not walking well today because of back pain, it was a chore. I met my two neighbours outside, and since it’s a cool but sunny day, we visited, with me sitting on the edge of the garbage bin.

So now I’m back inside, sitting in my chair, my eyes heavy and feeling totally worn out, and it’s only 11:30 in the morning.

I usually start the day with coffee and my daily yogourt, while I check things on social media. That’s E-mail, Facebook and both of my blogs. I check out Amazon daily, always hoping there might be some sales for my books available for Kindle.

I like to write in the mornings when I think my concentration is better. It used to be I’d write late into the night but I’m not good for much late at night but reading, maybe playing games on the computer. I can’t write and I can’t crochet, my eyes are too blurry.

From basically lunch time until I go to bed I fill my day with whatever catches my interest. Last week I did a lot of crocheting, Christmas projects, and I wrote posts for the blog. I didn’t feel up to par because of the cold so I had to set the book aside, not enough energy to think and write an ongoing story.

I can spend hours going back and forth from Facebook, Pinterest and the number of craft sites I get daily newsletters from. Those are the days I have brain fog and can’t get my mind to concentrate, days when even the simplest crochet pattern doesn’t seem to make sense, I can’t remember words and am lost as to what my book characters are doing. Those are the days I sleep a good part of the day away.

When I go out, as I usually do every Thursday, lunch with a friend, I come home exhausted. But the day out, the social time is worth the resulting fatigue.

For the ‘normal’ person who has things to do, places to be, a busy life, it may appear I accomplish a lot. But for someone who is faced with more than fifteen hours of a day to fill, I’m not accomplishing anything compared to what I might if I had the energy.

That insensitive comment really irks me. It has taken time for my friends and family to understand, and I haven’t had to make excuses for my lack of participation. It’s so nice when you have people in your life who understand.

Like my son who checks in with me regularly, asking if I need anything and just to ask how I’m doing. He takes care of my garden, other than the watering of my pots, which is why those plants didn’t survive the whole summer. Out of sight, out of mind. He’ll pack up my planters, my gazing ball and my plant stands and store them for the winter.

My daughter who calls and asks if I need anything at the store, can she get it for me or if I want to go, she’ll pick me up. I can shop better when she picks me up, but then she also packs my groceries and carries them in the house.

Getting dressed to go out is an effort and you have no idea how much energy it takes to walk out to my car, lift the walker in and get in the car. I need a rest before I even start the motor. I hate heading out to run errands with my eyes feeling heavy and my body weak.  It is such a luxury to be picked up at my door and not have to drive.

And then there’s my writing buddy, my Thursday lunch date. She picks me up and always asks if there’s any place I need to go while we’re out. Sometimes we’ll go to a store I’ve wanted to get to but haven’t managed it when groceries would have been my main focus. She’s always good for a stop at Staples, but that’s a dangerous place for two paper lovers like us.

I’ve joked for years about living a half life, needing to rest before a day of activity and crashing the day after. It was true, but at the same time I was managing to have days of activity. Since my relapse last year that half life looks good and I wish I had the energy to do what I managed to do back then.

So here it is, after 1 o’clock in the afternoon and all I’ve done today is put the garbage out and write this blog. I’m tired, bone tired, and I know a nap may feel good but it won’t make the fatigue go away. Good thing though, my back is better, because I rubbed it with Voltaren gel, or because I put on the magnet bracelet I forgot yesterday after my bath?

Maybe I’ll have a bite of lunch and a short nap. I’d like to do some crocheting later, too many unfinished projects to complete. Whatever gets you through the day, right?

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