Fatigue: Killing me softly

You are tired, so what? Get some sleep and stop complaining! If that’s what you think and if staying in bed a little longer once in a while works for you, you have never suffered from fatigue. It is a vastly debilitating weariness that overcomes a person although he or she has been resting. Unfortunately, it is a curse that accompanies many chronic diseases.

When I was informed about the symptoms of fatigue for the first time after having been diagnosed with leukemia, I realized that I had already been struggling for a long while – without knowing and without acknowledging the tremendous exhaustion I felt. In retrospective, I often wonder how I did it.

It seems I still had another energy level back then, because for the first time in my life, I must admit that my fatigue is sometimes stronger than I am. I fought back for years being one of the most loyal clients of the Coca Cola Company (I don’t like coffee). I would drink huge amounts of it every day. When I worked, I always had energy drinks for breakfast. Right now, I only allow myself caffeine in the afternoon, when I am with my children. In the morning I drink herbal teas. I have had to start holding a siesta after lunch.I know I do my best, I am extremely active. And I also know that recommending some kind of secret recipe against fatigue wouldn’t be honest. It doesn’t work. Even sleep doesn’t always work. I am desperate about my fatigue which has become and on & off companion for me.

Some time ago, my family and I went on a city trip. I had planned the whole weekend, museums, monuments,… when and where to go. But I had not been able to calculate how low my own energy level would be. We tried to find a bar that suited the children’s needs as well as mine and walked forever until I just couldn’t move anymore. I stopped right there on a huge and busy square, sat down on a bench and fell asleep. My husband and I remember this incident as “the breakdown”. We hurried home after that, skipping the last few sights. I couldn’t fight anymore. But I will do it again and again, trust me.

There seem to be various reasons for my fatigue: one of them is my severe iron deficiency anemia which is hard to treat, another one is my leukemia itself and the effects it has on my blood and a third one are the frequent infections I have. Being the mother of four children, including an 18 year old baby, requires extra efforts at night from me. Sleeping through is an illusion.

Fatigue doesn’t knock me down, no, it’s much more subtle than that. It slowly creeps into my daily chores … attaching weights to my arms and legs … making me dizzy and unable to focus … giving me the overall feeling that all I do is being done in slow motion. I am not in Morpheus arms, but helplessly tied up by him.They say sleep and death are brothers. I am prepared to have a shorter life expectancy than other people, but I am not prepared to be awake for like four hours each day and too tired to enjoy or sleeping the rest of the time. Fatigue is killing me softly.

If you suffer from fatigue as I do (it comes and goes, it is not always there luckily), I feel for you. I know how it is. You are not lazy. Maybe you are devastated because of your low energy level just the way I am. Don’t listen to those who tell you what to do (only if they are doctors) and do whatever suits you best.

I will continue fighting my fatigue and if I ever find something that works for me, I will tell you immediately, I promise.

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