The Weight of Fatigue
Last updated: November 2022
Of all the ankylosing spondylitis and fibromyalgia symptoms I experience daily, fatigue is one of the worst. For me, it’s just as bad as the chronic pain.
No amount of sleep feels like enough
I’m just always so tired. In addition to default levels of tiredness that never go away, the slightest bit of exertion will make me even more tired. Just getting up to go to the washroom can wear me out.
Some days the fatigue will come out of nowhere. I’ll have low to average energy levels for most of the day and the smallest activity will set it off. I never really have high energy days anymore but I think that low energy is just my new norm and that’s okay.
Something as simple as taking a couple of steps could cause the fatigue to sink in and weigh me down. And I mean that literally. Fatigue feels heavy. It feels like a weight I never wanted to carry. Every part of my body feels like it weighs 20 pounds and I have to lift all that weight to just move slightly.
One of the ways I combat fatigue is by using mobility aids
While using a cane or walker does prevent worsening pain and flare ups, it helps me the most with fatigue. By putting my weight on the cane or the walker, the heavy weight of fatigue is reduced to a manageable level. The cane or walker shares the weight of my fatigue with me and helps me move around without getting completely exhausted. Whether I opt to use a cane or walker depends on how tiring an activity is for me. When walking around my house, I use a cane since since I can sit whenever I need to and I don’t have to walk for too long. But if I am going shopping, I take my walker since it involves walking around for a longer time and distance.
I talked to my pain management doctor about my fatigue, asking him what would help. And he told me to take magnesium supplements. He said they would help to increase energy and get better sleep. From what I understood, he said that a lack of restful sleep is common in patients with chronic pain and fatigue, so getting more sleep would also help improve those issues. I know that getting adequate sleep regularly has several health benefits so I decided to give it a try. And so, I started taking magnesium supplements twice a day. This comes up to a total of 1000 mg of magnesium per day.
In all honesty, I’m not sure if the supplements on their own have helped much with energy. I do feel like it has helped with sleep a bit though. I always had trouble falling asleep so this helped me get to sleep a bit faster. But I don’t feel like the supplements have improved my quality of sleep. I still felt just as tired as I did before I started having magnesium. I told my doctor this and he said to keep taking it because it might help over time or in conjunction with other treatments. So, I still take them and my fatigue has improved a bit since playing around with other treatments as well.
My doctors and I are still figuring out what treatments are most effective for me
And things are starting to look up. We’ve finally been able to significantly reduce my pain (although temporary, but welcome nonetheless). However, these only address pain. Over the years, I’ve asked numerous doctors how to lessen fatigue and they’ve all told me the same thing: there is no treatment for fatigue. One can try to make lifestyle changes and take supplements that might help with fatigue, but there is no specific treatment for it. I am grateful that something is finally helping my pain but these conditions feel multi-pronged to me, spearheaded by pain and fatigue. I often wish there was something that helped improve fatigue.
Do you struggle with fatigue? What has helped you?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?