Fatigue: A Limiting Factor
Life with Multiple Sclerosis has been an adventure in adapting. Learning to function with symptoms like numbness, weakness, cognitive dysfunction, heat intolerance, and pain hasn’t been easy. While all of those present certain roadblocks that we must learn to get past, there is one symptom whose effects are the most challenging for me to overcome: fatigue. Often misunderstood and dismissed by those who haven’t experienced it, MS-related fatigue is, more often than not, the symptom that most limits the lives of those with Multiple Sclerosis.
Fatigue is not just being tired
My hope is not to rehash what fatigue is here. I’ve covered that numerous other times. If you are reading this and even part of you wants to associate it with simply “being tired”, you should head back and read one of those other articles of mine. Fatigue that comes with Multiple Sclerosis can be debilitating and it can affect every part of your body. It can make the simplest of tasks extremely difficult and like trying to move through mud.
MS fatigue is my toughest symptom
When you stop and consider some of the other symptoms that MS can throw at you, it may seem a little crazy to say that fatigue is the worst. I say this as someone who has had his legs and ability to walk compromised, I’ve had my arms and legs go numb and weak, causing me to drop things and to fall. I’ve had my cognitive abilities become hit or miss, to the point where I wonder if I’m even the same person anymore. I could go on and on about how the various symptoms of MS affect me, but none seem to have the kind of impact that fatigue does on me.
Fatigue can stop me right in my tracks
Put simply, fatigue can stop me right in my tracks (even more so than when I can’t move my legs). I feel like it leaves me in a type of limbo, an in-between place where I’m not dead but I also don’t really feel alive either. It renders me not only unable to move, but, at times, even unable to think clearly (people don’t realize just how much of a whole body experience fatigue can be). No matter what my desires or plans may be, I’m left there, feeling trapped in my own body. When my legs won’t work right, I have options, I can use a cane or a wheelchair. When it comes to fatigue, there really aren’t any options that are 100% effective to me.
Unless you’ve experienced the kind of extreme fatigue that can come with Multiple Sclerosis, you really can’t understand just how much it can limit you. It can make working nearly impossible. Socializing? Forget it. Even doing the bare minimum that’s required to live becomes extremely challenging. In the past, I have literally been too fatigued to be able to stand up, let alone make myself dinner, so I’ve skipped it. Even when it doesn’t completely stop you, it can limit you just enough to wreak havoc in your life. Maybe I can get up to get myself dinner, but it’s too difficult to make something healthy, so I choose an unhealthy, but much easier choice. Even when fatigue doesn’t stop you in your tracks, it can still force you to take the wrong path.
I’ve suffered many MS symptoms over my nearly two decades with the disease. Despite mobility issues, extreme pain, bladder issues, and incredible brain fog, I still feel like fatigue has the most effect on my day to day life. To me, it’s the most imprisoning symptom, one where there is no escape. How has fatigue affected you? I’d love to hear other people’s experiences in the comments!
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