Tell us about your symptoms and treatment experience. Take our survey here.

Tired woman looking at a phone screen showing a nearly-dead battery with an exclamation mark, and a red cross above the battery.

Tired of Being Tired

I’ve had rheumatoid disease (arthritis) for decades. I’ve written about living as well as possible with it for a long time, and I feel like I have some expertise.

I have a lot of personal experience, after all. But the more science-y part of my knowledge comes from the research I’ve done about rheumatoid disease (RD) and other autoimmune diseases to support my writing.

I’ve focused a lot on ways to cope with the joint pain caused by RA since that has always been the symptom that gives me the most ongoing h*ll.

But, I’ve researched and written about the symptoms that I’ve rarely experienced, too: low-grade fevers, flu-like malaise, and fatigue.

I’ve never been high-energy

I’ve never been a high-energy person. Even before RD, my normal pace was ambling, a turtle instead of a rabbit.

Oh, I can hurry if I must, but I’d rather plan my tasks and responsibilities so I have plenty of time to complete them without rushing.

I’ve always liked having the time to just live. It made me an all-around happier Wren.

That last bit took on a special glow after RD hit. Fighting frequent, severely painful flares made suddenly spotting a fairy-ring in the grass or catching the scent of jasmine on the warm night air all the more important to my mental health.

I focused even harder on finding those gifts, and I’ve encouraged others with the disease to do the same. Sanity can take work.

Pain is exhausting

RD forced me to become an even better planner, though. For example, I factored in flares in my knees or feet and gave myself more time to walk the two or three blocks to get to the bus stop for work.

Making dinner with flaring hands? I’d plan to have either canned soup or some of the homemade variety I’d frozen weeks earlier in anticipation of a night like this.

When fatigue accompanied my pain, I just accepted it. I figured it was no wonder I was tired: pain is exhausting!

And so is working full-time with it, then coming home after work each evening to start my second job: mom, wife, cook, housekeeper, laundress, and dog-walker. In the years since, fatigue has been only an occasional problem. I didn’t focus on it.

Now, fatigue is just whomping me

Fast forward to today. The joint pain is still a daily aggravation (once in a while more than that) but lemme tell you, fatigue is just whomping me. For the first time in years, I find myself at a loss.

I’m also dealing with pain in my knuckles, wrists, ankles, and feet, at least one low-grade fever episode (I’ve never had that particular symptom before), and occasional malaise. Wow. I’ve hit the trifecta plus one!

A DMARD to calm my RA symptoms

My rheumatologist reacted to my new symptom(s) by restarting me on a DMARD (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug) I’d dropped a year ago. With luck, it will ease my immune system back toward a relative calm.

While I wait, I’m studying up on what fatigue is, why the body reacts to RD this way, and what others who’ve dealt with this wackadoodle symptom do to cope.

At the moment, about all I can do is succumb — I’ve never spent so much wiped-out couch time in my life. But I’m learning, and I plan to share my knowledge with you.

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

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

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.