Fighting Multiple Sclerosis

Friday, March 25, 2011

Our Fight with Relentless Fatigue

So how many of us out there battle fatigue on a daily basis? I myself fight it everyday with some days being a little better than others. I have to sit back some days and think about how this will be how I feel for the remainder of my life. I like so many others fight this ugly part of MS with all I have. I can't just give in to it b/c I have a little boy who depends on me to be mommy. Don't get me wrong fatigue has been known to destroy a lot of my days and has stopped me from doing so many things I love. I want to know how others are fighting against there fatigue. At this point I do take something for it but have to be careful and only take a little do to my heart. I currently walk on the treadmill to try and keep my legs active and to also help strengthen my heart and have found that this little act of exercise helps just enough with the fatigue and allows me to get on with my day.

How do we explain fatigue to our friends and family so they will understand? How can we explain it so they don't think that just a simple nap will help. We wish everyday that taking a nap would help bring our bodies back to speed. The sad truth is that naps and sleep do not help. We all know in our own lives how fatigue and tiredness are two completely different things but to help explain this I did a little research and found this. I hope this will help you and also help with trying to explain to others how fatigue impacts your everyday life.

What is Multiple Sclerosis and Fatigue?

Medically speaking, fatigue is not the same thing as tiredness. Tiredness happens to everyone -- it is an expected feeling after certain activities or at the end of the day. Usually you know why you are tired and a good night's sleep solves the problem.

Fatigue is a daily lack of energy; unusual or excessive whole-body tiredness not relieved by sleep. It can be acute (lasting a month or less) or chronic (lasting from one to six months or longer). Fatigue can prevent a person from functioning normally and affects a person's quality of life.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 80% of people with MS have fatigue. MS-related fatigue tends to get worse as the day goes on, is often aggravated by heat and humidity, and comes on more easily and suddenly than normal fatigue.

So the best way to combat fatigue related to your MS is to treat the underlying medical cause. Unfortunately, the exact cause of MS-related fatigue is often unknown, or there may be multiple causes. However, there are steps you can take that may help to control fatigue.

My goodness with this against us how do we control our fatigue? How do we handle it? I also found some neat tips on how we might start to control our fatigue. Here are some tips:

1. Assess your personal situation.

Evaluate your level of energy. Think of your personal energy stores as a "bank." Deposits and withdrawals have to be made over the course of the day or the week to balance energy conservation, restoration, and expenditure. Keep a diary for one week to identify the time of day when you are either most fatigued or have the most energy. Note what you think may be contributing factors.
Be alert to your personal warning signs of fatigue. Fatigue warning signs may include tired eyes, tired legs, whole-body tiredness, stiff shoulders, decreased energy or a lack of energy, inability to concentrate, weakness or malaise, boredom or lack of motivation, sleepiness, increased irritability, nervousness, anxiety, or impatience.

2. Conserve your energy.

Plan ahead and organize your work. For example, change storage of items to reduce trips or reaching, delegate tasks when needed, and combine activities and simplify details.
Schedule rest. For example, balance periods of rest and work and rest before you become fatigued. Frequent, short rests are beneficial.
Pace yourself. A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities. Reduce sudden or prolonged strains. Alternate sitting and standing.
Practice proper body mechanics. When sitting, use a chair with good back support. Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Adjust the level of your work. Work without bending over. When bending to lift something, bend your knees and use your leg muscles to lift, not your back. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight. Also, try carrying several small loads instead of one large one, or use a cart.
Limit work that requires reaching over your head. For example, use long-handled tools, store items lower, and delegate activities whenever possible.
Limit work that increases muscle tension.
Identify environmental situations that cause fatigue. For example, avoid extremes of temperature, eliminate smoke or harmful fumes, and avoid long hot showers or baths.
Prioritize your activities. Decide what activities are important to you, and what could be delegated. Use your energy on important tasks.

3. Eat Right

Fatigue is often made worse if you are not eating enough or if you are not eating the right foods. Maintaining good nutrition can help you feel better and have more energy.
4. Exercise

Decreased physical activity, which may be the result of illness or of treatment, can lead to tiredness and lack of energy. Scientists have found that even healthy athletes forced to spend extended periods in bed or sitting in chairs develop feelings of anxiety, depression, weakness, fatigue, and nausea. Regular, moderate exercise can decrease these feelings, help you stay active, and increase your energy.
5. Learn to manage stress

Managing stress can play an important role in combating fatigue. Here are tips to help keep stress in check:

Adjust your expectations. For example, if you have a list of 10 things you want to accomplish today, pare it down to two and leave the rest for other days. A sense of accomplishment goes a long way to reducing stress.
Help others understand and support you. Family and friends can be helpful if they can "put themselves in your shoes" and understand what fatigue means to you. Support groups can be a source of comfort as well. Other people with MS understand what you are going through.
Relaxation techniques. Audiotapes that teach deep breathing or visualization can help reduce stress.
Participate in activities that divert your attention away from fatigue. For example, activities such as knitting, reading, or listening to music require little physical energy but require attention.

If your stress seems out of control, talk to your doctor. They are there to help.

I really hope all this has helped you like it has helped me. I also hope you feel free to talk to your doctor about your fatigue. You never know if your fatigue could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Please feel free to share this information with your loved ones to help them understand a little better what it is you are battling. We can not expect others to understand what it is we battle with our MS or other Autoimmune Diseases if we don't explain it to them. We have to be willing to be patient with them while they learn either from us, our doctors or by reading up on the issues. For all the caregivers out there, first I would like to say thank you for all you do for us I know it is not an easy job. With this said please be patient with us and allow us the freedom to talk to you about what is going on in our bodies.

So many hugs and prayers for all you out there.
Your Friend, Nickey

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