Have you ever seen a houseplant on a hot day when it dries out? One second it is fine, standing straight and tall. The next moment it is completely wilted . . . That is what it is like for someone with chronic fatigue.
I will be the first to admit that Christmas kicked my butt this year. My daughter, her partner and their daughter, my youngest granddaughter, were coming here to visit and I had so much to do. Last year was the same way: visitors for Christmas. I love having family here. I especially loved having my granddaughters with me at Christmas (both granddaughters in 2012 and one in 2013). But darn it if attempting to host a holiday just about did me in, both times. I have Chronic Lyme disease, one of the many conditions that causes chronic fatigue, chronic pain, cognitive issues, memory problems, and a myriad of other issues. If you know someone with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Myalgic Encephalopathy, Lupus, or Lyme disease, then you know someone who struggles with limited strength and stamina, and, typically, chronic fatigue. The truly mysterious part of chronic fatigue is that one minute I can be zipping along in a store my mind clear, my body doing what I want it to do, and suddenly I will hit an invisible wall. My body suddenly says, “That’s enough for now.” The only cure for this “stoppage” is a few days resting, meaning doing almost nothing. I still must care for my teenagers because I am the only responsible adult they have but beyond making sure they get on the bus and get to school, and are picked up from school when necessary, I am out of commission.
Instead of cleaning (okay, I was organizer — my 20yo did most of the actual work), shopping and wrapping gifts before Christmas, I should have been resting up for the day itself. Just like last year, by the time Christmas Day hit I had nothing left. I was all used up. When I push myself that hard it takes more than a day or two to recover. I admit that it took me weeks this time.
Have you ever seen a houseplant on a hot day? One second it is fine, standing straight and tall. The next moment it is completely wilted, devoid of moisture with nothing left to hold it up. That is what it is like for someone with chronic fatigue. It is like what energizes us for that little bit of time just dries up and we wilt. You can water that houseplant and it will perk back up but there are the little dried edges, a lack of vitality that was present before the wilting. That plant isn’t the same until it grows new leaves. A plant stressed by lack of sufficient water or too much heat or cold is set back; it will produce less and at a later date. It feels as though there is damage with overdoing and the more overdoing that has been done the longer it takes to heal that damage.
I did gain enough energy and wherewithal a couple of weeks ago to start taking Vitamin D-3 and sublingual Vitamin B-12 (yes, it takes energy that I often do not have to care for myself), hoping for some improvement because I just didn’t seem to be recovering from the Christmas stress and overdoing. This past Sunday it was like a light switch was turned on. I was able to get up, get out, enjoy some urban photography, and buy my seeds for my garden. Yesterday I felt well enough to do some cleaning. Cleaning!!! I haven’t felt well enough to clean in months, to be honest. Could the 1500* micrograms of Vitamin B-12 I take every day be making a difference? Or the 10,000** IU of Vitamin D-3 (I read that it is better to take daily than 50,000 IU once a week)? I am drinking water kefir again so maybe the bacteria in my gut is such that I can actually absorb the vitamins I am taking. All I know is that I am grateful for this little bit of improvement and the energy it seems to be bringing. Hoping it keeps up because I like having energy again. I am just sick and tired of feeling wilted. I want to be vital, healthy and productive.
Warning: Please see your doctor before taking any vitamins. I was tested and shown severely deficient in Vitamin D and borderline in Vitamin B-12. My physician prescribed Vitamin D (though I am taking an over-the-counter version now — I read that D3 is superior to prescription D2) and I am taking an over-the-counter sublingual Vitamin B-12 supplement.
*Vitamin B12 – National Institutes of Health: “For vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia: cyanocobalamin doses of 300-10,000 mcg (microgram) daily have been used. However, some evidence suggests that the most effective oral dose is between 647-1032 mcg/day.”
**Vitamin D Toxicity can occur if a person takes 50,000 IU daily over several months.
Vitamin D Deficiency – National Institutes of Health: “A commonly applied strategy is to prescribe a “loading dose” (eg, 50,000 IU of vitamin D orally once weekly for 2-3 months, or 3 times weekly for 1 month). A review of multiple loading algorithms suggested that a minimum total dose of 600,000 IU best predicted an end-of-treatment 25(OH)D level greater than 30 ng/mL.”