After an awful day of fatigue yesterday I blatantly had to discuss the 'F' word. The current issue of the MS Society magazine features a great article* on fatigue, and after reading other people's experiences, it got me a-thinking...how would I describe my fatigue?
I actually have more hair than this..and glasses.....and I'm a girl.
Now, for starters, there's a big difference between tiredness and fatigue. For me, tiredness is more of a mental thing. Where my brain is fuzzy and I'm not quite with it. Sore eyes, muscles a bit tired, zoning out and staring into the middle distance...you know what I'm talking about, right?
Fatigue, is one...two...ten notches up from this, depending on the day. The fuzziness is a dense fog. Where you literally can't think. Even if you're trying really hard to focus on one thing, it ain't gonna happen because your fog lights have gone kaput.
You feel like your whole body is slowly shutting down. For me, it's the legs that go first. The muscles burn and scream, as though I've just run a marathon. I feel like every step I take is through a thick swamp.
The aches and pains come on, as though I have just come down with an awful case of the flu. I go from feeling ice cold, to feeling like my skin is burning.
This isn't me..though it's closer than the cartoon at least.
It then creeps up my body, and all of a sudden I have a coat made up of weights engulfing me, and every movement takes a huge amount of effort. Then, if it's really bad, I feel like I have a motorcycle helmet on my head, weighing me down. I struggle to keep my head upright, and sounds just don't register in the same way.
This certainly isn't me...but this girl looks like she's struggling with it as much as I would!
It could be all of these things put together, or even just one, but one thing's for sure...it sucks.
All of these descriptions sound very melodramatic, but as other MS suffers will know, it really does feel like this. It varies in its degree of severity, sure, and I understand why it is hard for a non-sufferer to imagine. I mean it sounds nuts that you could get symptoms like this, randomly, without any real warning, and for any length of time...but it's true.
The fact that MS suffers are being turned down Employment Support Allowance because on a day to day basis they 'only' have fatigue, is shocking. Until you've experienced chronic fatigue, you have no idea how painful, frustrating and utterly soul destroying it can be.
So...no. It's not the same as being tired.
* MS Matters Issue 108, pg 22. For more info, visit www.mssociety.org.uk