MS Fatigue: Again
So we made it through another season of eggnog, latkes, candy canes and too many late night visits with old friends and family. Now what do we do to move on from the holidays? It you’re like me these days, you might collapse and begin the impersonation of Rip Van Winkle, the guy of legends who slept through 20 years.
The need for sleep descended on me a few weeks ago and it’s not something that I can easily ignore. My husband definitely notices when I nod off while he is talking and he tries not to take it personal. I really do find him engaging most of the time, but his familiar voice gently lulls me into that trancelike state that precedes sleep.
I also find myself once again nodding at my work desk – this fortunately seems to only happen when I am alone and no one else is around. It doesn’t happen often enough to be considered regular narcoleptic episodes but I still have problems shaking it off and staying alert when that heavy cloak of weariness covers me. Unfortunately it’s not a cloak of invisibility that gives me superpowers to disappear and really take that quick doze while no one is watching.
We’ve had a lot of gray days lately and I know that affects my energy levels in extreme ways, so I broke down and bought a happy light at the local warehouse club. These lights have bulbs that mimic the sun’s rays and the thinking is they help the brain out of a depressive state caused by the lack of natural light. I turn this on every morning while I’m puttzing about in the kitchen – I soak up 10-15 minutes of extra rays every morning. The light is almost blinding but I honestly don’t know if it is making a difference because I am still exhausted. My husband, who doesn’t get the science behind the happy light, suggests I wear sunglasses while it’s on to protect my eyesight.
An extra dose of modafinil (generic for Provigil) as prescribed by my neurologist only carries me so far in a little extra boost – it mainly accelerates my heart rate but not my energy levels. The same goes for the coffee – sipping an extra cup or two for the caffeine boost also gives my GERDs some fits but at least the indigestion pain keeps me awake.
As I type this at 1:00 in the afternoon, it’s hard to stop yawning and my body is craving sleep; it needs it and obviously lots of it since I already had 9 hours of sleep last night. Even the suggestion of sleep here as I type puts me under the spell and I find my eyelids growing heavy and I momentarily nod off. Only the quick, unexpected jerking of my head brings me back to the present.
Could I blame this tiredness on age? I do have a sign from a friend that proclaims ‘At my age, Happy Hour is a nap!’ I laugh at how close to the truth this really is…. Naps do make me very happy, but especially if they last longer than an hour.
Of course it is simplest to blame being bone weary tired on the MS – it’s a handy subject to blame most ailments on and MS fatigue is at the top of the list of complaints for most of us. MS fatigue is so common that if you google the term, you will instantly be rewarded with 50,200,000 hits of articles on the internet that mention “MS Fatigue.’ Sorry, but the whole idea of sorting through that many articles to find suggestions for fatigue really wears me out.
There is a scientific term for our MS fatigue and maybe it would sound more significant if in place of saying I’m too tired to do something, I replace it with my lassitude is in a flare and we will need to reschedule. There’s nothing better than a little used, unknown medical term to get people to appreciate the gravity of a condition.
Whatever the cause, I’m tired of being tired and I’m sure a number of you reading this would agree. Just don’t use too much of your precious energy reserve to nod your head yes.
Wishing you well,