Birthday hangover

It was my birthday at the weekend and now I’m hungover.

I must have had a good time… Hmmmm… Yes, I guess I did…

Saturday started by taking my eldest to her dance class and back. I started my pottery tuition in the afternoon and on Saturday evening, I ventured into Sheffield to see Reverend and the Makers play a storming hometown gig.

Sunday was my actual birthday, so I managed a little bit of a lie-in before bombardment by breakfast-in-bed wielding daughters. This was followed by a long trip to the supermarket. Then, picking up their Grandad en route, we visited one of the local parks’ play areas where we had a go on the resident miniature train.

This was followed by a slap-up meal in a local eaterie, including an ice-cream dessert with a candle on top before a round-trip to show the girls Matlock illuminations.

Monday involved a day off work to do some much needed gardening, followed by helping my daughters decorate my birthday cake. By the evening, I was dropping off in my chair, so I had a brisk walk around the block to blow some life into me.

So, yes, a very enjoyable birthday… and now, even though I didn’t drink a drop of alcohol, I have a hangover. A hangover caused by dragging a monster round with me all weekend. My head feels fuzzy, my hands and arms are buzzing, my legs feel like lead. I can’t stop yawning after midday and I know I am going to struggle to keep awake after the girls’ bed-times tonight.
I often hear people of “a certain age” claiming that “you’re only as old as you feel,” before twirling their umbrellas and tappity-tapping out a dance routine. If that’s the case, I guess I have just reached 98, not 38.

STOP-PRESS: as I was typing this I recieved a phonecall from my local Occupational Therapist to say that I had been referred to her fatigue clinic. My first appointment is next week. The OT sounded very dour, like the last thing she wanted to do was see me, so I will keep you posted.

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Experience of fatigue

Up to eighty-seven per cent of people with MS, including myself, experience fatigue at some point. It is important to us that people don’t think fatigue is the same as tiredness. It is the most draining experience imaginable and it can happen for no apparent reason.

I went to a talk by an occupational therapist the other night on fatigue and it’s management. As part of his presentation, he included quotes from some of the people with MS he has consulted with over the years.

I thought it would be useful to re-quote them here as I am sure these statements will resonate with the fatigued among us and go some way to help explain what it is like for others:

“Fatigue can literally reduce me to tears, for no reason, I just find I’m crying – it’s like the plug has been pulled out and my energy, almost my life feels like it is going down the drain…”

“I feel like I’m in a jail cell as I’m so tired all the time…”

“It feels as though my legs are full of lead, it’s literally like wading through treacle trying to do things…”

“It hits me like a wall and then I can’t do anything… There’s no real warning to it happening. Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m awake.” (Oh boy, yes!)

“It’s hard to describe to someone that you’re feeling fatigued and tired when you’ve not actually done anything. I used to be so active.”

Prior to my diagnosis, when I was going through the darkest hours of a relapse, I had a number of afternoons at work where I had what can be best described as a waking sleep at my desk. It was deeply worrying to say the least and I remember the thought “What’s happening to me?” playing on a loop in my head.

Perhaps the hardest thing about fatigue is that it is invisible to everyone else. I’m not being lazy or unhelpful and I can still do everything I could do before, it is just that sometimes I can find everyday tasks exhausting.

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