The past couple of days have seen me return to how I was a few months ago. I seem to be back to being hit by overwhelming bouts of tiredness that require me to immediately rest/sleep for long periods of time.
I've been here before so I know how it works. I get sudden collapses of energy and brain function and I go into 'shutdown mode'. I sleep for crazily long periods of time and wake up unrefreshed. I then try to do stuff and then, after an hour or two, get hit by another overwhelming wave of fatigue.
I find it interesting to observe my symptoms and how they evolve or regress over time. As well as trying to find the best way to live my life and retain some energy, I also have one eye on theories/remedies/case studies. This means I spend a fair bit of time reading up on what's being said out there in the world about what seems to be afflicting me. Today, I want to share a few articles that caught my attention recently and add my own comments where possible.
Firstly, dysautonomia.... more info here - I mentioned in a previous post that my personal theory (and, at this stage, theories are the best we can work with as there is no medical consensus) was that my hypothalamus was not doing what a hypothalamus should. This is a part of the 'old brain' (i.e. it was there even before our brains evolved into the amazing machines they now are) and regulates all the non-voluntary stuff like breathing, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure etc etc. In biological terms, homeostasis. It's still my own view that all those automated functions are awry within me but, until there are sophisticated tests done on a great number of living brains it can only be supposition.
Having a wimpy supply of energy and having to decide what to use it on is difficult to explain to others who haven't been in that position. We all get tired and modern life is full of stress so I completely understand when people equate it with tiredness. Of course, it goes way beyond that but I can't expect complete empathy from people who haven't been in that position. Although it's perhaps a little cheesy, a woman with Lupus used a bunch of spoons to explain this to a friend... see here
I've always been someone who enjoys my own company but I've noticed that noise sensitivity has become more of an issue for me now. If I'm focusing on what is making the noise it isn't really a problem so I can still listen to music or watch movies but if the noise is 'in the background' it drives me crazy. I tend to spend a lot of time wearing headphones even if I'm not playing anything through them as I find they dull out background noise. More on noise sensitivity here
Sleep. We all know how vital it is and we all probably don't get enough of it. Again, modern living brings with it other fun stuff like stress and sleep deprivation. Imagine though, never being refreshed by sleep. That's kinda the position I'm in and it's very frustrating. The desire and need to sleep still exist and I am able to sleep but it seems to serve little purpose as it doesn't refresh me. One of the theories around this seems to be that it indicates the person isn't entering the restorative cycles of sleep. It makes sense and I have noticed that doctor-prescribed sleeping pills have allowed me to sleep deeper and feel more refreshed afterwards. Unfortunately they stop working for me after I take them for a little while though. I found an article on sodium oxybate here intriguing as it follows the same general theory and mentions a drug that seems to address the problem. I have heard the side effects can be pretty unpleasant but I am definitely following this story with a lot of interest as restful sleep would be almost impossible to resist for me.
Recently, I've been interested in reading about the experiences of others in terms of how their loved ones deal with them being ill. There are some real horror stories out there and unfortunately it seems to be mostly women who have uncaring male husbands/partners. I am exceptionally lucky to have a wonderful girlfriend who is completely supportive but even I have times where I feel like I am a burden to her or that I am not being fully understood by her. I therefore cannot imagine how horrible it must be for those who are ill and whose partners are unsympathetic, mocking or disapproving. There's a decent article on the subject here
The articles I've posted are just a small sample of the 'community news' I try to keep up with. Alongside reading medical journals, it helps me stay informed. I'm not the sort of person who passively accepts that doctors always know best so I take the time to be as well informed as I possibly can be on the subjects that impact my health. I hope some of the information I've shared has been helpful to others or at least interesting to read :)