Fighting Fatigue: Small Changes Can Make A Difference!

Vanessa Collins Health Guide
  • It is Sunday afternoon. Both televisions are tuned to football games.  Everyone is asleep in the house, except for me.  Even my little Toy Fox Pinscher is sleeping.  Sadie must be dreaming of running in a field or some other canine delight.  Her little brown legs are moving back and forth as she barks softly in her sleep.


    I am taking stock of my blessings today, and thinking about all I have learned about RA over the past five years.  My thoughts are focused on my tendency to blame everything on RA.  I can't help but think there are many other RA patients who do the same thing.


    A few months ago, I noticed an increase in my fatigue. No amount of sleep or medication made a difference.  What did I do?  I blamed my lack of energy on the RA fatigue we all know so well.

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    I had an appointment with my orthopedic doctor about a month ago.  It was a routine appointment following bilateral hip injections.  


    My orthopedic doctor always asks how I am doing with my RA treatment.  She said I looked tired.  I was tired.


    I explained that I was having more fatigue than normal the last few months.  She suggested we test my folic acid level, and I agreed. 


    The day after my blood test, I received a call.  My folic acid was too low.  I am now taking a prescription called Folbic.  After six months we will retest and see where we are.  My orthopedic doctor explained low folic acid and other B vitamins can cause fatigue.


    I was both surprised and happy.  I was surprised because I had asked my rheumatologist many times about taking folic acid as a supplement.  Dr. M told me I didn't need folic acid.  She said our food is fortified with folic acid, and that was enough.  She was wrong.  I was happy because my orthopedic doctor told me I should have more energy once I get my levels of folic acid and other B vitamins back in the normal range.


    A couple of weeks after I started taking Folbic, I had an appointment with my general practitioner.  She suggested I try going gluten-free.  She said if I were sensitive to gluten, eliminating it from my diet should increase my energy level.


    I like my general practitioner, so I decided to humor her.  I eliminated gluten from my diet, and was surprised when my energy level did increase.


    An added bonus was that I lost a pound a week for 11 weeks.  Unfortunately, I need to lose a lot more weight, and I have reached some sort of weight plateau.  I am now contemplating  eliminating sugar from my diet.  But I am making no promises!­­­­­


    My doctor also suggested I eliminate dairy, as dairy has been linked to inflammation.  I only have one issue with eliminating diary: I absolutely love ice cream.  Perhaps I will just decrease my consumption of dairy foods.


    The point of my story is this: If you are not feeling your best, please mention it to your doctor.  Not everything is RA-related.  Even conditions that are RA-related may be helped with dietary supplements, or a change in diet.


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    I am pleased to report that my energy level has increased since.  I have been successful in losing some weight.  I take prednisone daily, so losing any weight is a minor miracle in my mind.


    At this point, I am still experimenting with my diet.  My joints would be much happier if I could continue to lose weight.  I am no longer resigned to my current condition.  We always have options, and now I have hope.


    Have any of you been able to lose weight while taking prednisone?  If so, I would love to hear your suggestions!

Published On: October 27, 2014