Friday, May 30, 2008

On Tiredness

I went to my doctor Wednesday, complaining of fatigue. I think I need to go back on Armour, a thyroid med that's helped me in prior years, but it's out of fashion and I am now taking Sinthroid, which doesn't seem to work as well.

I went round the robin with my doctor, who said I had a "good" dose of Sinthroid: I "should" be fine. Am I sure I'm not depressed? I told her I think not and reminded her that the protocol is to exclude anything physical before addressing depression. Too many women who are physically ill get told their problems are in their heads.

She hastened to assure me she always followed protocol. The upshot is she's ordered a series of blood tests and a stress test. I meant to go get the testing done, but was too tired and groggy this morning to remember, one of the ironies of dealing with this syndrome!

I eat a healthy diet (I've lost 7 pounds) and exercise. I do have stress in my life with the move coming, but not excessive stress, and I do have good support systems in place. I have a good life and work I love. Most importantly, I have an underlying faith that keeps me from getting too panicked or worried.

Yesterday, Roger was home from work. I drank two cups of coffee and applied for some freelance work in the morning, then ran some errands. Roger and I had lunch at home, then went to Home Depot and the local Farmer's Market. When we pulled into the driveway at around 2:30, I could feel the exhaustion hitting. This was after a not terribly strenuous day! And why am I crashing ... I haven't had sugar or many carbs? Of course, I did miss exercise class ... and I drank morning coffee ...

A little after three, I crashed into a deep, exhausted sleep. (Again, I had hardly endured a difficult day). A little after five, I pulled myself up, knowing I needed to say goodbye to Roger and the boys as they left for a baseball game. I knew I needed to pull myself together to get Sophie from work and get the two of us to the game.

I tried hard to be alert but was irritable underneath because I was still sleepy. John Buck called urgently about rescheduling the camping trip. Mike called about e-mails and getting paid. I tried groggily to pray for patience and a line of energy. Sophie and I got to the game. It was a beautiful evening. We set up our chairs. I was a bit groggy, but managed to enjoy watching the boys get hits (I'm so proud of Nick's progress), and in Will's case, catching a ball for a double play. (He also hit a home run.) Sophie and I went out for coffee at a restaurant on Catonsville's main street, as I had promised her we would. (We ended up splitting shrimp quesadillas.)

I had a relaxing and enjoyable time out with Sophie. I was tired when we got home, but not in an irritable way, which was wonderful. At home, Roger started dealing with rearranging our camping trip (it's supposed to rain this weekend) and Susan Furth came over unexpectedly to drop off tents. I read to Will from his assigned school book, a fictional work about the Revolutionary War. And off to bed ...

I get frustrated with the tiredness, but remind myself that all sorts of people, from the apostle Paul to Galileo to John Woolman, dealt with physical afflictions. John Woolman, in fact, was compassionate toward the plight of slaves in part because he knew he would never have survived the physical labor their owners expected of them. He knew that a physically robust owner would have dismissed his physical limitations as laziness or lack of character, and probably would have worked him to death. This was a very real fear to him as he followed a leading to enter Indian territory. Not only did he see slavery as a reality in his own culture, he knew that disgruntled Indians were enslaving whites. He worries in his journal over the death sentence that enslavement would be should an Indian chief turn on Woolman and his fellow travelers.

The other day, was trying to make an appointment with a different doctor (and to make a long story short, it didn't work out) and in the process, I had a conversation with the woman who answered to phone, who kept demanding to know "Why" I wanted to come in. I told her, the gatekeeper, that I was tired and didn't think my Sinthroid was working. She told me, snappishly, that she was on Sinthroid too and it wasn't working for her either and she was tired all the time too. I just had to get to used to it, she told me. I wondered why we are all taking a med that doesn't work: does this make sense? And is tiredness something we just have to accept?

I went to an herbalist at one point for help with fatigue. Herbs don't seem to do it for me, but it was good to visit her. She would always tell me: If you are tired, sleep. If you are tired, sleep. Listen to your body. Well, I resist that! I'm afraid I would sleep my life entirely away. The Puritan in me says, stay awake! Force yourself through life! And mostly I do. Until I can't.

One of my fantasies about moving to Barnesville is that fresh air and a quieter life will renew my energy, so that I can go a full day without exhaustion hitting halfway through and derailing my plans. Of course, I'd hoped taking a break from working full time would "cure" me too! Relief would be wonderful, but I think I will still have to accept and work around and through this affliction. I both try to address it and also try to embrace it. As with Paul and John Woolman (and I'm guessing Galileo) it helps me feel compassion for others who are overworked and weary and who need a lighter burden. It helps me put aside my own ego needs, which say I "deserve" high energy because of all the "important" things I have to do.


Jeff Martens said...

Who has shrimp quesadillas on Main St (that's Frederick Rd?)? Are they good? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just putting on my Bossy Nurse cap for a moment...Your doctor/pharm. probably has already talked to you about this (or you have read it yourself) but lots of people have trouble with synthroid because they take it the wrong time of day. It has to be taken in the morning, an hour before eating and *4* hours before/after any other meds, especially vitamins. Iron, calcium, & Tums, in particular, interfere with its absorption.

I also think the herbalist is right; women don't rest enough. We keep thinking we have to earn it or deserve it or just do this one last thing before we can finally rest. I feel absolutely wicked if I lie down during the day, like maybe the police are going to come get me. I'm so guilty, I can't rest, so I get up....