It’s getting harder, of that there is no denying. It’s the fatigue more than anything and it’s really hard to describe, but as this is the place where I try to help others and work things out for myself I’ll give it a try.
Before ‘shit happened (SH)’, I was a long-term survivor of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and underactive thyroid. I’m on meds, have regular reviews and mainly self manage symptoms either through my diet (avoid gluten / wheat), low carbs and take gentle exercise, usually swimming. I’ve been self employed or worked from home in one capacity or another from 2017, and I’ve been privileged to have the time to be able to listen to my body’s needs. My usual working day would start in the Shed around 8am, I’d work until 2pm with a 30 min lunch break at around 12.30pm then the afternoon would be swimming, walking or more often than not, napping – it was/is what my body needs and I’m fortunate and grateful to be able to do that. The fatigue I feel now isn’t sleepy tired (though I can still sleep through several storms!) It’s more of an all-encompassing lack of energy, like my batteries have gone flat or I’ve run out of juice. The only option is to stop, sleep if I want/can or sit and do nothing. The brain crashes too or is full of cotton wool, so watching TV (though nice for background noise) or reading a book is hopeless because I can’t concentrate or follow the thread of a story. I do knit, or do some colouring in which is very calming and helps with mindfulness. I must stress that it doesn’t feel like this every day or all the time, but when it does it, it hits hard and there is no rhyme or reason to it (trust me, I’ve tried to keep a track).
Of course, everyone is different and I have had rather a lot on my plate!
When SH, I moved in to look after my parents full-time who were both having a difficult time health wise, then I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Once I had sorted care out for them, I moved back home (that first night in my own bed was bloody lovely!) and concentrated on my own health. How I longed to have my organised, slow-going-days back; a leisurely breakfast with fresh ground coffee, a lie in if I had no deadlines to hit, or a sofa day if my body just wasn’t having any of it. Or a steady swim followed by a sauna and 30-minute session in the Hydrotherapy pool. Ah, what a bloody life I lived!!
In the last 6 months, I have undergone 2 major operations to remove cancer, supported my dad through end-of-life care, helped my mum deal with a dementia diagnosis, tried to be there for my son as his own mental health suffered as a result of all the above, and tried to be a loving wife and step mum. That’s a lot, right? Add to that intensive chemotherapy sessions initially every 3 weeks then bumped to every week, losing my hair, putting on 2 stone, all whilst living through a global pandemic. Sign me up to the nuthouse please??!!
BUT – I can now see a little chink of light at the end of the tunnel. I only have 2 more chemo treatments left and I can look forward to a 4 week break. I then need to have radiotherapy, 5 days a week, for possibly 4 weeks. That will be followed by hormone suppressants, which are tablet form thankfully, so no trips to the hospital.
I am gradually stealing time back for myself. I have 2 Shed days a week currently which will increase once the chemo stops, but then I dare say I’ll lose them again when radiotherapy starts but it’s only 4 weeks so again, light at the end of the tunnel!
So what will I do with this newfound freedom? Will I return to my previous sloth-like existence? Well, you can read all about my next ‘challenge’ in my next post!
Any guesses what it might be?