By K W Warburton, The Reluctant Spoonie
Fatigue has always been one of my most debilitating symptoms. Unfortunately, it is also the one that has been the most poorly managed by my doctors. When I first developed symptoms, my doctor told me there was nothing they could do to help me as there was no longer a specialist in the area for ME/ CFS due to budget cuts.
My GP suggested that I should just ‘go for a walk’ every day and in time my fatigue would improve.
Of course, this was unsuitable for me due to my other symptoms (tachycardia and low blood pressure due to my POTS) and the fact that I could not stand up for more than two minutes.
I spent many months in bed with inadequate healthcare where I could feel my organs struggling to function one by one. I had difficulty breathing and eating. Eventually, I struggled to sit up during the day and spent most of my time in bed or on the sofa.
I was repeatedly told by different doctors that they could not help me.
Fortunately, I had a family who could afford private treatment for me. I know that this is not an option for everyone and I am certain that without treatment I would still be bedridden with chronic fatigue.
Chronic fatigue must be managed by a specialist in order to get the best results. GP’s in the UK are no longer able to recommend treatment due to the potentially harmful effects they could cause. Launching into a graded exercise programme is not for everyone and can be harmful if it is not suitable for you.
Below, I have outlined the ways that I personally manage my fatigue. (Remember to check with your specialist before making any lifestyle changes).
1. Pilates/ muscle strengthening exercises
When I first started on my graded exercise programme, I was told to strengthen my muscles first before I introduced anything else. Pilates exercises can be done lying down, so they are ideal for those who are not able to stand for long periods of time.
Pacing is by far the best way to manage fatigue. I like to plan out my month in advance by writing down all the tasks I have to complete by the end of the month. I then space them out, allowing rest days in between.
I always hated naps as a child. When I first started treatment for my chronic fatigue, I was told to only nap for 30 mins per day. I used to do more than that, but now as I’ve progressed with my treatment, I rarely need to nap during the day.
Chronic fatigue is still poorly understood by doctors and without access to an appropriate specialist, you can be stuck without treatment. Recovery from chronic fatigue can take years, but it is possible, just look at MP Yvette Cooper
I am currently in my second year of treatment for my chronic fatigue. I have seen a great improvement over time, but fatigue is still one of my most debilitating symptoms.
Do you have chronic fatigue? How do you manage your symptoms?