I had great plans for today! Today could have been the day I changed the world. I was going to conquer my to-do list and have a good hair day. My MS had a different plan, however, and in the battle of good (me) versus evil (MS), MS won. I was hit by a wave of fatigue that meant instead of hopping out of bed to face my Saturday, I dragged myself through the motions of breakfast, showering and back to bed again.
Fatigue is a common symptom of MS. Some of my friends with MS live with fatigue a lot, almost all the time. Others won’t have it at all for ages, and then get hit with it out of the blue. In my experience, it gradually builds up without me noticing. For me, it will often come on after a period of being very busy at work or not taking care of myself properly - those weeks when I rush around having spaghetti hoops for dinner while the vegetables in my fridge start to lose the will to live. I can get away with it for so long, before fatigue will remind me that I need to stop. Slow down. Take a breath.
Fatigue is a hard symptom to describe to people. I mean, I can say that it is tiredness, but everyone gets tired. My friends with small kids, or who work long shifts at work, know all about being tired. Most days I feel tired myself. Fatigue is different. When it sneaks up on me, it’s like walking in wet sand, while wearing really soggy clothes that drag you down. My arms and legs get slow and stubborn, and moving quickly isn’t an option. My brain slows down, and concentration escapes me. The tiredness goes into my bones- every part of me needs to rest and to sleep.
Fatigue robs me of my time. When I have made plans to do things, and I can’t physically get them done, it’s frustrating and upsetting. It robs me of my concentration; tasks that should come easily to me are foggy and harder to process. I push through as hard as I can while at work, to suffer the aftereffects when I get home that evening. Going to bed for a quick nap at 6pm can lead to sleeping through until the next morning. It robs me off my family; it’s not fun for my husband to have Sleeping Beauty snoring upstairs while he takes over all the household chores.
Fatigue has also taught me to (try to) be patient and kind to myself. Fighting it too hard just makes it worse. It is better to give in sooner rather than later! So today, I had planned to go to Town. To have a nosey around the sales and see what was happening in the world. Instead I woke up tired, after a long night’s sleep and felt my entire body shout at me to stop. Slow down. Take a breath. Plans were quickly abandoned, and I spent the entire day in bed, sleeping and reading a bit and giving myself permission to just “be” rather than “do”.
Tomorrow, I plan to get up, face the day and go for a stroll. MS might have a different day lined up for me. And that will be ok too!