Blood Cancer Awareness Post 18: Fatigue!

So…in my original outline for this month, I had every day mapped out, and predetermined…but given some recent events, I’ve decided to switch it up a bit. Today we are going to talk about fatigue. A lot of this is going to be rhetorical ranting, but please stick it out if you can 🙂

Have you ever tried to explain fatigue to anyone? It’s pretty tough. I’ll wager those of you who have tried are nodding in agreement right now. It is really difficult to explain fatigue to someone who does not have a chronic illness. The responses I get most often are “So…you’re tired? Just take a nap! You’ll feel better” or even better “Ooooh…you should try ______ (fill in random supplement/vitamin cocktail here) it worked for my best friend’s sister’s neighbor’s dog walker. It will definitely fix your problem”

As for the first suggestion: No…a nap will not fix it. No matter how well I sleep, or how regularly (or healthily) I may eat, I am always tired. For example, a short while ago I was invited to a social gathering by a friend. This gathering was to occur after work at the end of the week. After telling this friend that I was really exhausted, and just not in the mood to go out, they said “Can you take a nap and tough it out?”…I’m sorry, no; I “tough it out” every single day. Any day that I am able to make it out of bed, go to work, and function normally for a 10 hour stretch IS an accomplishment in itself. Suggesting to someone who is telling you about their fatigue that they should “tough it out” is really not helpful.

As for the second suggestion…no. Just…no. I appreciate the thoughtful suggestion, and I’m sure it’s well intended, but I assure you that I have tried just about everything out there to possibly perk me up. Exercise, diet, multivitamins, (basically all the vitamins in the alphabet for that matter), coffee, and even energy drinks(don’t tell me doctor…)! None of these things have worked long term, (for me at least) nor do they really eliminate the underlying fatigue that I still feel every single day.

The fatigue felt by someone with a chronic illness is not the same “tired” feeling that you experience after a long day at work, or the tired feeling you can get after a good workout. It is a constant thing. The best way I have found of explaining my fatigue is The Spoon Theory; written by the brilliant Christine Miserandino. It really is the most accurate way I have come across to explain it: You are given certain number of spoons per day. Each activity you perform throughout the day will cost you some spoons. You cannot replenish your spoons, and once they’re gone; they’re gone. A person with a chronic illness has to find ways of rationing spoons throughout the day to be able to function normally. This may include sacrificing a fun evening with friends, to be able to function normally the next day. So here is my note to any readers out there who do NOT have a chronic illness: Before telling someone to “tough it out” or “try this!” please remember that we only have so many spoons per day, and guilt trips really don’t help.

So…that’s all on that for now. Tomorrow we’ll be back on track. We’ll be talking about Clinical Trials, where to find them, what the stages are, and how they help us!

Until tomorrow,

Lina

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