Devin's Tips for Fighting Fatigue
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that can be responsible for a massive number of different symptoms. MS is also a disease that can affect people differently (so no, just because your aunt’s coworker’s gardener’s nephew is doing great, that doesn’t mean that I am). Despite that wide variety and happenstance of symptoms across the many afflicted with this disease, there is one symptom that is extremely common: fatigue.
MS-related fatigue is much more than simply being tired. It’s also a symptom that is serious enough to stop people in their tracks and even keep them from working. With it being both prevalent and powerful, it’s understandable that many people with MS often find themselves looking for ways to fight it. With that in mind, I thought I’d put together some of my tips for dealing with MS-related fatigue.
Medication for fatigue
One of the first things people ask me about when it comes to fatigue is if I take any medication to help me. I actually do, though it doesn’t exactly work the way most people think. I have had success with Provigil (modafinil). However, it doesn’t really give me the kind of energy that I think most people are seeking. That doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been beneficial to me, though. I find that it does a good job of giving me wakefulness, which isn’t energy but is still important to the equation of combating fatigue.
To start off a discussion about fatigue and sleep, it’s important to understand that when it comes to MS-related fatigue, you can have a perfect night’s sleep and still wake up and be fatigued. So why then am I worried about sleep? Well, because we already face an uphill battle against lassitude, we don’t need poor sleep adding onto the fatigue that we are already facing. In order to properly fight our fatigue, we need to eliminate other potential causes of fatigue. With issues like painsomnia and anxiety being prevalent in those with MS, getting a proper night’s sleep is difficult for many of us.
Achieving better sleep
If you are having trouble sleeping, you need to take the time to address it and figure out ways to improve it. I admit, I sometimes rely on an over-the-counter sleep aid (which is essentially benadryl) to give me an edge in staying asleep. I also use a weighted blanket and white noise machine. I also have conditioned myself that when I go to bed, it’s time for sleep and sleep only (obviously being single helps with that). To do that, I take steps like using my bedroom only for sleeping and never looking at my phone while in bed (which is hard at first, but extremely helpful).
Know your body
Fatigue is a symptom of MS; like any of our symptoms, if you aren’t in an exacerbation, it’s important to know what might be causing it to rear its ugly head. That means you need to understand your body and what triggers your symptoms.
Identifying any triggers that worsen MS fatigue
Is it stress that seems to bring fatigue? Sometimes, finding some more relaxation time can be incredibly helpful for fatigue. Is it too hot or cold? There are a lot of conditions that can temporarily worsen our symptoms, but you have to figure them out along the way. Eliminating or altering those conditions can be an important step in combating fatigue (or any symptom for that matter). Believe it or not, just being able to recognize what is causing our symptoms to worsen, even if we can’t necessarily prevent or stop it, can help us deal with it. As I said before, we’re all a bit different, so learn what affects you and you’ll be able to handle it better.
How often do you use assistive devices to help manage your MS?