Living with Heart

Oh Fatigue – I will manage you with a smile

Oh Fatigue – I will manage you with a smile…..said no-one ever.

So about mid March 2017 I woke up on a Sunday morning and started my process of getting up which is really a staged insertion into the world – or maybe a staged extraction from my bed. 

Instead of my stiff, sore but always half jaunty ‘Get up, Dress up, Turn up’ attitude…..SMACK DOWN. Fatigue had hit me a sucker punch. I literally stepped back and fell on the bed (or sat so heavily that my feather pillows bounced – whichever version is more visually appealing).

You all probably know what I’m talking about but if you don’t – well let me tell you about the Big F. It’s not just being tired. It’s not just feeling like you need a little Downton Abbey lie down. 

What it is is a game changer. It’s like your body is moving through wet concrete. It’s like you’ve run a marathon when you’ve just walked to the loo. It’s like an elephant is sitting on your body and you are oozing into the ground. Seriously. This is the one symptom that can’t be escaped – but it can be managed.
How I manage fatigue – The Big F:

1. Stop panicking: This will pass, I am telling myself right now it will pass. It may seem like my body is physically the weight of the world at the moment but tomorrow will be different. It may be worse (hey – let’s be honest here) but it may….just may, be better. Or just different. I’d be happy with either.

2. Think about your Fatigue. OK, I know this sounds weird and you’re rolling your collective eyes and thinking ‘Michelle’s goin’ hippy dippy now’. But bear with me – this actually works. Take a few minutes and think about how the Fatigue feels in YOUR body. Where is it felt most? What shape and colour would you give it? For me, it’s a wet, heavy woollen blanket that is brown and black. It is draped around me and through me and weighs me down like lead. When you have your image – really cement it in your memory. 

3. What were your Big F red flags? When did your wet blanket first appear? Search your recent memories for the above sensation…….Did you subconsciously notice your foot dragging yesterday? Did you have a heavy feeling last week? Did your brain start malfunctioning a few days ago? The idea is to search through your recent memories for the above ‘feeling’. This is your ‘Big F Red Flag’. For me – I knew at least 2 weeks before that somethin was a comin round the mountain. I’d had a few feelings of ‘geez, its hard to get out of this chair…it’s harder than it usually is. ‘Sh&t – I can feel that wet blanket coming – my hallway seems really long’.

4. Start cancelling, clearing or categorising the calendar! The Big F can’t be fought off, it needs to be lived through. Prioritising is the key here – keep all your medical appointments and if you have to work then prioritise that…but ‘just say no’ is a really good phrase for now.

5. Lower your standards – seriously lower them. Lower. Now even lower. The Big F doesn’t give a flying duck if your sink is full of crud or your hair hasn’t been washed for a week. I give myself permission to stay in my PJs all day. I will not feel guilty because this is what my body needs. My ugly wet blanket is here at the moment and this is frustrating but I know it will pass. I will be kind to myself.

6. The next time you feel the Big F think of YOUR image and acknowledge it. Give it a place in your body without judgement or fear or panic. “I am feeling the weight of that ugly wet blanket right now – but I am still Michelle. Feeling this blanket does not change who I am. I can still be happy and calm with this wet blanket.” You get where I’m going with this.

7. File the Red Flags for future reference. Over time you will learn the red flags and you will start to alter your calendar to stop a major SMACK DOWN. Well that’s the theory but – hey – it’s pretty fluid so just go with it.
So, the above, yeah. All sounds really organised and super ‘manageable’. But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming). Even after a decade, I still get SMACK DOWN. I’m slowly learning to take notice of my red flags. I’m slowly learning to remember what SMACK DOWN feels like. 
And also, the blindingly obvious point is – The Big F is part of my disease process. Duh! It’s part of Psoriatic Arthritis and fibromyalgia. It will be lurking around the periphery of my life forever. I am just a brief shower of rain away from that ugly wet blanket…
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for taking time to listen and to hear. Thank you for seeing my life through my joint perspective. 


1 Comment
  1. THANKYOU for a fantastic read Michelle. That’s exactly how I feel, and after having the worst depressive low of my life last Wednesday, I am ready to allow myself to recover.?