I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my family and friends, whether it’s just a normal gathering over my moms amazing cooking or a trip to the mall with friends to go spend all our money on clothing or movies or food.
Although I love every second of it, part of having Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Fibromyalgia is the chronic fatigue that unfortunately comes along with it.
I’ve had an incredibly difficult run with the fatigue the last seven years. It consumes me at any given moment of the day, regardless of how long I had slept the previous night.
I must admit I do suffer from mild insomnia and get about four hours of sleep on a good night, which gets me through the next day and night until I’m tired enough to not toss and turn and sleep. It’s the fact that my body’s tired when my mind isn’t, my mind is incredibly busy and I have a lot to do and I have a very precise and demanding medication schedule, so that ultimately keeps me up… This is not a recipe for a good nights’ worth of sleep.
In around September last year, I had an arthroscopy which is in simpler terms, a knee operation. The initial cause of the swelling of my knee was the RA. The tissues surrounding my knee had swollen up to the point where mobility was practically impossible and incredibly painful. I toughed it out though, since I miss so much school due to my health, especially since it’s become so bad in the last year and a half alone.
After the surgery I was told that I needed a knee replacement and that I would experience chronic pain in that specific knee for the duration it took for me to get it replaced. I’m turning eighteen this year and they already want to turn me into the female wolverine!
I had to take additional pain medication every six hours to manage the pain in my knee after I had the arthroscopy done. They had removed some tissue samples that had gotten caught between the two bones that form the knee so the swelling was a little more painful and a lot larger than a normal knee after surgery.
One thing you must know about me is that I hate to be woken up if I’m sleeping so I got easily annoyed with the waking up every six hours to take the medicine – a side effect of the pills, however, was heavy drowsiness.
I eventually decided to stay up for twelve to eighteen hours to get the majority of the medication taken, attend my pysio and follow up appointments with my Rheumatologist in good spirits and then sleep when I got home and wake up in time for the next dose of painkillers. I think the insomnia stemmed from there, my body developed a way to cope with less than six hours of sleep a day and still function normally the next day.
It’s crazy, I know, but it’s become so bad that I don’t even have to sleep at all for two days or so, but my mom eventually finds out and forces a sleeping pill down my throat and then I sleep for four hours on an eight hour effective tablet… Let’s just say I wake up in a happy buzz!
The medication I take for the RA and Fibromyalgia alone are predominantly pain killers, Lyrica and Trepiline and Tramacet all have the side effect of added drowsiness, not to mention that side effects of each of my ailments are fatigue… Let’s just say I have added fatigue where fatigue is not needed.
During my daily routine, I include lots of ice water, preferably frozen overnight, to stay cold and to keep me wide awake (not that I really need more alertness.) I also include walking a short distance, I’ve only been doing 300-500m walks three times a week because of my knee and the fact that I still have swelling months later. I take my arthritic Border Collie, Domino, with me. She’s a brilliant hobble-along buddy.
I try my best to eat apples and plums because the natural vitamins and sugars keep you up and going, even the effervescent versions of vitamins go down well with my morning dose of Eltroxin and Lyrica. The fatigue and the insomnia together are the worst combination because my mind is as stubborn as I am and my body’s as lazy as the teenager I am.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is so dangerous so please, if any of you are experiencing the symptoms from this list, please go see your doctor as well;
- Bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, possibly problems similar to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Aching or sore muscles. (I have this one a lot worse from the Fibromyalgia.)
- Painful lymph nodes.
- Apathy, lack of motivation. (Which I have most of all.)
- Chronic (long-term) tiredness.
- Difficulty in concentrating.
My fatigue appeared a while before I had the first swelling caused by my RA, so it’s incredibly important to go see a doctor and don’t just pin it to your busy schedule. My mistake was that I assumed the fatigue was part of my demanding sport schedule at the time and that my first swelling was an injury from the netball practice I had had the day before.
I’m currently planning on finishing school, since my mom and I have made the decision to have me home schooled this year, as I missed almost ten weeks of school last year due to my health, and then look into the knee replacement before I start studying Law.
At least then you can say you know the real-life female wolverine!