Zzzzzzzz zzz zz z
I’m dealing with some serious fatigue issues these days. It’s one of the main reasons I haven’t been posting much recently. When I’m awake, I’m working my butt off to catch up for all of the times I’m not awake. No time to blog.
I’m not entirely sure what the source of the fatigue is, but I’m working on half a dozen theories. Considering how utterly overwhelming it is at times, the “chemo effect” is my number one theory.
Some days, I will sleep nine hours at night, then take two two-hour naps, drag around during the hours I’m awake, and go to bed early. Not only do I know this is not normal, but it’s not fun. I appreciate sleep, but not this much.
Spare me the “maybe you are sleeping TOO much” theory. I certainly am not CHOOSING to sleep this much. It’s choosing me. The other day, I woke up after nine hours of sleep. Drove the kids to school. On the way home, I started doing the “oh, I’m not sleepy, I just need to close my eyes for an extra second” move. By the time I got home, it was all I could do to crawl into bed – at 9 a.m.
I thought perhaps my training for the Mini was wearing me out too much. So, after the 15K on April 14 (which I finished in my best time ever), I took a five day break from training. I meant to take a two day break, but I was still tired on the third day, so I just kept breaking! 😉 Anyhow, during my rest period, I never began to feel better – just my same draggy self. I eventually had to get back to training and now I seem to be struggling with it even more. In the past, I have always felt exercise helped my stamina. Right now, it doesn’t seem to be helping me at all and is maybe hurting me.
On days I have caffeine, I can usually function pretty well. I tried going without caffeine twice this week and paid for it both times – once was the day I was extra-blinky on the drive home. Of course, I don’t need caffeine – it’s not good for me (or anyone). And caffeine usually comes with loads of sugar, which I certainly don’t need.
Speaking of sugar, my husband encouraged me today to purge the sugar from my diet. I had to admit I’ve gotten further off this bandwagon than I had realized. I had a wake-up call today when I tried to do my training walk. My sugar crashed after about 1 1/2 miles. I was too weak to keep going or turn around! It was pathetic! And even though I usually stick a granola bar in my bra just in case something like this were to happen, I actually looked at the granola bars today and said, “Nah, I’ve got a handle on my sugar. I don’t need it.” Besides, it’s really hard to eat a granola bar when you don’t have water and I don’t carry water because when you walk 6-7 miles the extra weight throws off your balance. (Didn’t know that? Well, I didn’t either until I did it and made my neck, shoulder and lower back hurt just by carrying a little water.)
So, here I was, stranded in the country, going slower and slower and starting to feel faint. I kept passing houses and looking for signs that there were people home. I was going to go to the door and ask for Kool-Aid or a piece of candy. Seriously. But all of the houses looked like most houses do on a week day – like everyone was at work and school.
I knew I was in big trouble when I started assessing the plant life around me and wondering how many carbs were in dandelions. I even looked around for swarms of bees thinking maybe I could borrow some honey. Yes, I was going to tame wild bees. I may have been hallucinating.
Finally, I knew I was going to have to lie down on the side of the road if I didn’t do something, so I started calling all of the neighbors I happen to have programmed in my cell phone (which I hang around my neck, so I’m not thrown off balance. Tricky stuff.) Fortunately, the second person I tried was home, so she came to get me.
Now, I don’t think this sugar crash is related to the overall fatigue I’m experiencing. I think I just screwed up. I ate cereal for breakfast almost two hours before I walked. No protein. And I waited too long after to walk. And I didn’t eat the best dinner – I had a lot of pasta, plus ice cream. Not much protein in that meal, either. So, I’d gone nearly 18 hours without a significant amount of protein. Not smart.
The rest of the time, though, I am trying to eat every three hours and am eating lots of protein. I feel better in some ways – a little stronger and it makes this “sick to my stomach” feeling go away. However, it doesn’t make me feel less tired.
It’s possible this is related to one or two drugs I’m taking. Fatigue is a side effect of both Tamoxifen and Cymbalta. I take the Tamoxifen because it’s an anti-hormonal drug to help prevent a recurrence of breast cancer. I’m taking the Cymbalta to combat the depression brought on by the Tamoxifen. So, what drug do I get to take if the fatigue is being caused by the Cymbalta? Maybe caffeine. Perhaps I’m self-medicating and just don’t know it.
Fatigue for two years after chemotherapy ends is extremely common. (I ended chemo in August.) I’ve learned this recently as I’ve been trying to figure out what the fart is wrong with me. It’s very frustrating to feel otherwise healthy, to have a clear mind and not to have a body that is willing to keep up. I do not want to sleep my life away. I certainly do not want to sleep my summer away. I did THAT last summer. It sucked.
Here are a few of the articles I read in the Cure magazine (free subscriptions!) that I found interesting:
- Dealing with Cancer-related Fatigue
- Physical activity and the cancer patient
- Getting a Grip on Cancer Fatigue
- Managing Life After Treatment
I think it is really interesting that, in addition to some other treatments, all of these articles mention moderate exercise, diet changes, yoga and acupuncture as being helpful to patients with long-term fatigue. I’m already doing A & B, so I really have got to get off my butt and start doing some yoga. And as soon as the lottery fairy comes to my house, I really want to try acupuncture as well!