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Thursday, August 21, 2008

MS Fatigue vs. Ordinary Fatigue

Today I was reading the latest post on Braincheese and it reminded me of something I have been thinking about a bit lately. I have noticed that there is tired and MS tired. Unfortuantely they seem to be different.

When I am just tired I feel sleepy but otherwise ok. There is no urgency to sleep and when I do get to it I rest well but not like I am tumbling off a cliff.

MS fatigue is a whole different ball game. For me, it takes two forms. The first is less troublesome than the second. I often find that when I have completed rigorous excercise that I get very sleepy shortly thereafter. If I try not to sleep I will feel like falling asleep wherever I am. If I do sleep, I fall asleep for like 3 hours in the middle of the day. It's crazy... One hour of rigorous excercise often requires 3 hours of sleep on the flip side.

The second kind of MS fatigue is much more frightening. Sleep becomes a need like food and water and it doesn't want to wait. I sometimes make driving mistakes or feel like I will sleep at the wheel in this state. More distrubingly, I sometimes get so tired it makes me headachy or nauseated and the only cure seems to be sleep. When I do sleep at these times it is like falling. I feel as though I am tumbling through the bed. I often get vertigo as I drift off. I sleep deeply but I am plagued by evil dreams. These dreams often awaken me and I can't sleep again. When I do awake from one of these sleeps, I am often still exhausted. I usually have some vertigo, skull pain and a tongue cemented to the roof of my mouth. This sleep is scary. Even scarier is the prospect of doing without the sleep when I am overtaken by this kind of fatigue.

I want to tell myself that I felt the MS kind of tired before my diagnoses but the only times I can remember now involved MS symptoms that I did not know were MS. Lately I have been exhausted but since I have started work, it seems just like tiredness and not the scary MS fatigue so I am keeping my fingers crossed, eating right and taking it slow.


Anonymous said...

The only thing that comes close to MS fatigue is when you first get pregnant and all you want to do is sleep.


Jen said...

I didn't experience MS fatigue for a long time, and always wondered what poeple were talking about. Then it creeped in during my attack of 2006, and subsided again until this attack of '08. I think I get more of the "lead limbs" problem, where I feel limb weakness. This I still have upon waking and after doing something strenuous.

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks for sharing ladies. I think it probably manifests differently depending on the person but it seems that all MSers can agree that we seem to get abnormally tired.

Jen, I know what you mean about leaden limbs. It doesn't happen to me evry day but sometimes I can barely get off the couch, especially after a day at work.

Merelyme said...

you give such good and detailed descriptions of the fatigue. most people do not understand what it is like to have this type of fatigue. one person told me, "oh well everyone gets tired...we are all getting old." just ain't getting it. i think that but i just smile and nod my head.

wanted to thank you for always stopping by to give comments and for your support. you are truly a delight. i am sorry you have MS but i am glad that you are part of our MS blogger community here. you make a difference!

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks Merely. I agree that most people don't really understand. My mom seems to which is cool. She actually called the other day just to see how I was feeling. That was very sweet of her.

Diane J Standiford said...

I'm like jen---lead limbs, neck, back, arms (oops those are limbs); it is a special MS thang.

Emms said...

I can't believe that I'm saying least we all agree that no one really knows about fatigue until they have experienced MS fatigue! (I hate to even suggest that MS'ers have it worse, and it isn't typical of me).

It is nice to know that even though we experience it differently, it is the same all-encompassing fatigue.


I, too, have noticed variations on the MS fatigue theme. When trying to do something (like laundry or general tidying), I find that I can work for 10 minutes and need 50 minutes to rest. Takes forever to get anything done.

Then there are the times that the head feels to be about 20 pounds heavy and requires resting it (napping) for a lengthy period of time. I can't do 20 minute naps.

Or the type of fatigue where I don't really care at all what is going on and I can't really bother to think about it. Things like getting up to get something refreshing to drink takes too much effort. Or even deciding to change the TV channel (if it happens to be on) requires too much thought. I call it the "I don't really care" fatigue.

Denver Refashionista said...

Lisa, I totally get the "I don't really care fatigue." I have had it a lot lately. On Friday night I did nothing, just sat on the couch and stared at the TV but didn't even change the channel.

Joan said...

Great explanation! Sorry for the late comment, but I've been tired (grin!!).

I also get very fatigued when I have to use my brain. For example, I'll get very tired if I'm exposed to a lot of stimulus like multiple people talking to me at the same time, walking into a Home Depot, or getting interrupted when I'm trying to do something or figure something out. Even writing a blog post is tiring.

I think that the brain uses a lot of energy, and I overlooked that for a long time. I used to think that just physical activities caused fatigue, but mental activities are worse.