I’ve just spent two full days with my 13 year old nephew. I am utterly and completely exhausted! Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy spending time with him, but I sure end up a zombie after he’s gone.One of the most challenging aspects of chronic illness is dealing with fatigue. I know that my stamina is nowhere near what it was 7 or so years ago. I’m only 40, so technically I shouldn’t have too many problems. My illness seems to let all my energy reserves seep out. On a regular day, I’m yawning about 3:30 (and I don’t get up until 9 or 10). If I don’t take a relaxation break, I find myself nodding off like an old lady in a rest home. It’s really difficult to deal with especially when one is used to getting everything they need done in a typical day.
When my nieces or nephew come to stay, it can be a challenge staying alert. I do pretty good for a few hours. By the end of the day I am exhausted and fairly cranky. I start to get that “But, I don’t want to!” attitude. In cases where they stay over night, I am okay until they leave. Then I fall into a stupor. The next day I am useless. The exhaustion plagues me for two to three days afterward.
It’s been difficult adapting to this “slow down” mode. When the kids were younger, I was always in the middle of their games. I’d be chasing after them in tag, playing hide and seek, challenging them at board games, getting silly, singing songs, and so forth. I could go all day. Their energy would be infections. Now, I’m doddering along. I have to take my breaks in between sets. There’s no more tag for me because my feet won’t allow it.
I could spend my days sitting around the house. I could be one of those relatives who never gets involved. “Don’t wake Auntie Mel. You know she’s ill.” But, I don’t want to be! I enjoy having my nieces and nephew over. I can’t have them every day, but I can sure have them for a visit. It’s true that we’ve had to change our style of play, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play at all. Even though I’m knocked out afterwards, I’d say it’s time well spent! Anyone who has a chronic illness has to have a break from it. Children are a wonderful pick me up.
Celebrate Life: New Attitudes for Living with Chronic Illness is an excellent book for those suffering from chronic disease who want to gain back control of their life. The author covers the many emotional and physical stages she went through after her diagnosis with Lupus. I love this book and have reread parts as a reminder that life has to move forward. You can order this book through amazon.com.