The recent sharepost by Dr. Gross, Fatigue and Sleepiness in Multiple Sclerosis, couldn't have come at a better time for me.
After a month of high energy, I just recently began to slide back into the clutches of fatigue. The first day that it hit again, I tried to ignore it, even though I felt as though my body weight had tripled. The second day, I couldn't ignore it, but I tried to pretend that it wasn't so.
By the third day, fatigue was winning. Sitting at my keyboard around 3:00 p.m., I felt my eyes closing even while I continued to type. My head seemed so much heavier than my neck could possibly hold, and the fog came rolling in. I thought I'd just lie down for a moment. I didn't even recall my head hitting the pillow when I woke up two hours later. Even then, I felt sleep deprived. It is impossible for me to get enough sleep these days.
I wake up each morning hoping that it's over, but helplessly crashing by midday. I walk as though carrying fifty pound weights on each limb. I struggle to summon the energy to take care of small household tasks. Sitting at dinner one night, my husband pointed out that I should sit up straighter. He said I looked as though I was caving in on myself. Good choice of words, too, because that's exactly how I felt. Good posture takes too much energy at this stage.
Having experienced this fatigue phase many times before, I know that the worst usually passes after two or three weeks. Knowing that helps me to cope.
I have quite a few life-altering symptoms of multiple sclerosis. There are times I cannot lift my hairdryer, times I cannot drive or work. I sometimes need a cane, sometimes a wheelchair. Then there's the vertigo, vision disturbances, and total lack of coordination. You would think that any one of those would be my most severe problem, but you would be wrong. I know that I am not alone among MS patients, when I say that fatigue is, without question, THE most debilitating symptom of MS. It is also the least understood and the least obvious.
According to Dr. Gross, “Many patients with chronic disease have fatigue, particularly those with cancer or immune disorders. However, in MS the fatigue is often disproportionately present, i.e. the patient may have little on neurological examination but much in the way of fatigability. Sometimes, tiredness is different from physical exhaustion. It's tiredness associated with a predisposition to fall asleep.”
Thank you, Dr. Gross, for putting into words what so many of us deal with, but are at a loss to explain. Somehow, when a doctor puts it in writing for all the world to see, we feel better about it.
“A predisposition to fall asleep.” That about sums up my life these days. Is it possible that Rip Van Winkle had MS?
Published On: July 08, 2008