I Spent Most of My 20s Asleep
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 20. I recently turned 28. Do you know what this means? I spent half of my 20s asleep.
If I really thought hard about this, I should be seriously unhappy. I mean, legitimately half (if not more) of this decade was spent fast asleep. Fatigue is my most troubling symptom, even more so than pain! Does lethargy come on as a side effect of the medications I take? Or is it just my immune system trying really, really hard?
Fatigue: the untreatable RA symptom
I continually ask my doctor if there is something I can do or take. It is sometimes hard to stomach my amount of "downtime", but there are no medications to help with it. My rheumatologist wishes he could give me something, but until my symptoms are fully controlled I'll continue to feel drained.
For those select few who are healthy and able-bodied, let me ask you this. You know when you have the flu you feel sluggish and tired and could sleep for the country? Your immunity is on power drive fighting against the virus or bacteria.
A chronic illness warrior's immune system is on overdrive every day. I feel that type of fatigueevery day.
The need for sleep because of RA
And, because of it, I can easily sleep 9 to 10 hours a night. I wake up, go through my morning routine and then take a nap before work. That nap can be anywhere from 1.5-2 hours, so you do the math. That’s half a day...
...Every day, of every week, of every month. Continue down this road, and it turns into roughly six months asleep or half a year. Now keep going, and it turns into four years out of the eight I was diagnosed.
What I described above was a good set of days so what do bad ones look like, you may ask. Let me tell you. I could sleep well over twelve hours a night (I go to bed earlier and wake up later) and fit in a lie down when I can, even if it's after work. I never count how many hours I spent laid up on bad days because I would fixate on that number.
My body needed the rest
I spent most of my 20s asleep. Okay, so 4 out of 10 doesn't sound THAT bad, right? Except, do you know how much I could do in four years?? I can finish vet school, get a Ph.D., or complete another major. Four years may not be the majority of a decade but I can certainly do a lot with that time!
"Then why waste that time sleeping?" Brain asks. “Sorry, Brain”, Body replies. “I need that absurd amount of rest to function during those remaining 12 hours of the day." But hey, from what I’ve heard, 20s are the new teens and full of growing pains so maybe sleeping through them is a string of good luck?
How has fatigue affected your life? Do you make allowances for it or do you try to push through?
Do you feel guilty when you need to rest?