Woman with hands on her head with a gauge reading on the low end on her face.

If Only There Was a Fatigue-O-Meter

I’ve been wishing for a fatigue-o-meter. It would be a device that you touch and magically measures and reports on your level of fatigue. In my mind, it looks like a large brass round clock or barometer (or alethiometer—extra points to people who get the reference!).

Measuring chronic RA fatigue

When I hold the fatigue-o-meter, the hands would twirl then settle on my current level of fatigue. I imagine that the points on the dial would change as I discover (mine for?) new low levels of energy. It would be large and heavy. Perhaps I wouldn’t be able to lift it well. It would be kind of awkward and not practically portable. But it would always tell me the truth.

Fatigue comes with self-doubt

I think other people with fatigue struggle with this problem. We start to doubt ourselves. Am I really tired? Am I more tired than I was last week? A month ago? A year ago? A decade ago? How am I compared to the other day? Am I catching up? Am I falling behind?

It doesn’t matter if the answers are bad, I just want to know the truth. I feel worse than years ago - is that true? Sometimes I worry that my life was charged on one battery and my light is flashing. I’m getting low! Where do I find the charger?

As mean as it may sound, the fatigue-o-meter would also confirm what I believe in my heart: that I truly am the most tired person in my vicinity—nearly always. When I hear someone complaining about being tired, I could test them with the fatigue-o-meter then hit them upside the head with it when their results are undetectable and mine are off the charts. Really, I would never condone violence. (Or would I? I’m too tired to say for sure.)

A state of chronic fatigue

When my doctor recently asked how I felt when I wake up in the morning, I cackled. I wake up tired! Seriously, how does a person wake up tired? How is that actually physically possible? Does that mean I am literally a zombie? Should I try out for a zombie show? (How is their health care? Do zombies get a good health plan?)

The energy crisis

I wish I could say I am in an energy deficit. It’s more like a crisis. I dream about sleep. Seriously, I am sleeping and dreaming that I am getting enough sleep. It’s just not physically possible. Perhaps it’s my rheumatoid arthritis (I’m sure a lot of it is) and I’m sure there’s some sleep apnea mixed in for bonus points. But I feel so drained that I worry my imagined fatigue-o-meter would just sigh at me and then throw itself out the window in despair (don’t worry, it’s just a patio outside – we’re on the first floor, so it will only get a little bruised).

If I could talk to my younger self, I would tell me to get more rest. But there was so much fun to be had! Late night concerts! Giggling slumber parties with friends! Travel and jet lag! Now I changed my mind—do all those things while you have the energy.

Pretending to have energy

Now I just try to fake it as much as possible. I pretend I have energy like imagination can influence reality. I put the fatigue-o-meter in a drawer and lose the instructions in the bottom of a cluttered closet. Who needs that thing anyway! It just gets me down. Tells me like it is. Never mind. Better to just do as much (or more than) I can manage on my energy. Too much life to be living! Who cares about fatigue anyway?!

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Do you or someone you know have gout? (Select all the apply)