Reducing My Pain Allows Me to Break Through Chronic Fatigue

Reducing My Pain Allows Me to Break Through Chronic Fatigue
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After almost six weeks of being unable to get a massage because my therapist was injured, I finally got back in last week.

I really needed it, as I’ve been dealing with a pain flare from getting stuck in the mud at the farm where I live. Most of the tendons, ligament, and muscle attachments that traverse my hip were sore, inflamed, and as I jokingly say, “just plain angry.”

While unraveling and mitigating the damage from almost dislocating my hip will likely take months, at least we’ve started down the right path. Best of all, the pain has lessened. And when I’m in less pain, I sleep better.

I’ve talked often about how chronic fatigue is the most difficult aspect of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome for me to manage. When I’m having a pain flare, it’s worse. I can sleep for six, eight, 10, or even 12 hours and still wake up feeling exhausted. Sometimes during a pain flare I’ll wake up multiple times a night and roll over to try and find a more comfortable position.

Using a knee pillow has definitely helped, but it’s not a magic bullet. Other times I’ll sleep straight through the night and still wake up feeling just as tired as when I fell asleep.

While it sounds obvious, being tired all the time is, well, exhausting. It always seems like when I’m tired and just push through, I get more tired as I go, but at the same time, I feel just as tired as I did to start.

I realize that’s a complete paradox, but I reach a point with chronic fatigue where the level seems to stagnate and become one great big “tired” descriptor. If I push beyond that and hit the “completely exhausted and nonfunctional” level, I just need to quit for the day and go to bed.

The best thing about getting my pain levels down is not only that I’m more comfortable, of course, but also that when I sleep, I actually feel like I’m getting some rest. I can wake up in the morning and feel a bit refreshed, instead of being as tired as I was when my head hit the pillow.

A truly restful night’s sleep is so healing for me. Waking up, feeling less pain, and feeling refreshed is like hitting a reset button. While I rarely have a day when I feel what I assume is semi-normal, I revel in the days when I’ve gotten a good night’s sleep and feel better. I have energy, my mindset is more positive, and I’m excited to face the day’s challenges.

***

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.

An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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An avid equestrian and educator, Karen has been a columnist at BioNews — the publisher of this site — since 2019. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2009 after years of searching for a diagnosis that explained her symptoms. Karen enjoys working with her students, riding and caring for her two horses (Cherry and Spotty), and connecting with others in the rare disease community through her writing.
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