A few days ago, after my shower, I went to drain the soap dish of water, only to find it completely dry. That’s how I realized I had forgotten to use soap. And no, I didn’t get back in. I managed the whole day on the rinse cycle. (No, I won’t tell you which day.)
These days, I sleep as much as I feel I need and then drag myself out of bed only to feel sacked soon thereafter. I’m slower to get moving in the morning–I used to be in the pool at 7 a.m.–and know my best hours are between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. I feel like I could nap anytime, and sometimes I succumb. I’m tired just thinking about making dinner, let alone doing it. I’m so exhausted by day’s end that I actually sleep through the night, which, as a light sleeper and occasional insomniac, I never did before.
My fatigue started many years before I got cancer. In 1998, to be exact, two years before my polycythemia diagnosis. I attributed the fatigue to overwork at a very stressful job, although it truly felt different–persistent, unrelenting, all consuming. In some ways, my exhaustion was validated by my medical diagnosis.
Soon after, doctors discovered a serious blood clot outside my liver, and my liver functioning became of concern. Guess what happens when your liver functioning is impaired? You get tired. And the medications needed to manage this problem are fatiguing.
And then I got leukemia, and with it more fatiguing medication. But in the year before cancer, I noticed my exhaustion getting worse. Twice I got out of the shower without having rinsed my hair. (Yes, those times I did get back in.) Despite my impeccable driving record, I got into three minor car accidents. (In two of these, my car was the only object moving.) I decided to reduce my clinical hours because I just wasn’t managing my by-now-part-time workload.
When I was diagnosed with leukemia, it all made sense. And even though the leukemia is being treated effectively, the fatigue remains. I’ve stopped working, and I plan out my errand runs and coffee dates. If I lose steam partway through the day, I don’t complete what I set out to do. If I know I don’t have it in me, I just stay home. And I haven’t even mentioned the recent anemia.
I’m not trying to claim my exhaustion is worse than yours, you with a colicky infant or a long, stressful commute or a packed daily schedule; it just may be different. Some have reminded me that I am getting older when I tried to describe the feeling. But then I see how much more than me my 85-year-old neighbour accomplishes in a day. Yesterday, someone suggested my tiredness might be due to the weather. I’ve been cranky since, perhaps because her comment felt minimizing.
But my exhaustion couldn’t compare to Jelly’s after a good off-leash chase of the big dogs. At least my tongue doesn’t stick out when I’m sleeping.