Fatigue or Ordinary Exhaustion?
For the third day in a row, or should I say evening, I found myself asleep in my chair not long after the sun set, which is pretty darn early since it is wintertime, and aside from the brief awakening to hit the restroom and move to my bed, I’ve slept 11 or 12 hours each night. This is very different from my usual pattern of seven or so hours of sleep each night.
So what has changed? Yes, there are lots of demands on my attention at this time of year but I’ve resisted getting caught in the frenzy and my pace is slower, but honestly I don’t think I could speed up even if I wanted to.
I manage to get to work, and I then spend the day at my desk conserving my energy so that I have enough to make it out the door to my car and the drive home. My job doesn’t require a strong body, just a healthy mind, and maybe all that turning cog action in my brain is wearing me down. Fortunately I don’t have a long commute and can wrestle with myself to stay awake for the 15 minute drive to home. At least I recognize when I want to nod off- the urge to pull over to the side of the road and close my eyes for a brief time hits me often – and I’ve learned to roll down my window and suck in the cool fresh air, much like a dog on a long drive would do. Lately I have felt that way driving to work and not just coming home, and I am now traveling the round-trip version of fatigue.
MS fatigue is very common and most of us will experience it at one time or another, but this is my first prolonged stretch of unexplainable, unrelenting tiredness. I can imagine this is perhaps how Rip Van Winkle felt as he laid down for that long winter nap and slept through his own hardships of war. Rip slept through the Revolutionary War, whereas I am engaged in my own private battle with MS. If only I could be like him, doze off, and wake when this is over.
The inability to stay awake and alert is vexing. More than once I have described MS fatigue as this vignette:
Imagine you are in a deep sleep on your couch and you hear the smoke detector ringing in your house. You stir a bit and then recognize what the offensive, blaring sound is coming from – oh no, you think, your house may be on fire and you should probably move, but you debate with yourself if you can muster the energy and you slip back off to sleep. That is fatigue – when you want to go, you know you need to go, and yet you can’t.
Fortunately I am not that fatigued right now, but something has certainly taken over my energy reserves. If the smoke alarm goes off in my house, I would eventually move but it would take a few moments to get going. MS fatigue, just like this disease, comes in all sizes and forms. We don’t have to be unable to move to be under this spell. The fatigue can occur without warning, suddenly taking us down for the count, or it can slowly accumulate its ill effects.
For now I will blame my fatigue on the seasons and ordinary exhaustion – take your pick of which one…. either it’s the holiday season that kicked off with Thanksgiving a few weeks back or it’s the late fall/early winter season of cold, snow and too much darkness and gray skies. Either way, my get up and go, got up and left. I sure hope it comes back, soon.
Wishing you well,