Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Overcome Fatigue- Pace Yourself

Update - God is so good! I continue to improve - I am up to walking 10-12 minutes a day, and yesterday was able to walk 13! (This is up from 8 only three weeks ago, and bedridden two and half months ago)! I feel like my endurance is getting stronger - I don't "crash" as easily, and am able to do progressively more and more in a day. I'm continuing to follow the "Guts and Glory" program in "Restoring Your Digestive Health" by Jordan Rubin, and am thrilled to have added in wild-caught fish into my diet and am handling it just fine. I am also working on some hormone issues (a post in itself) which, if I can correct, will hopefully help my energy levels rise even further.

To recover from any chronic illness, especially one in which your adrenals are fatigued, requires very careful, deliberate pacing. Since finding out I had adrenal fatigue over a year ago (before knowing all the reasons why), I have been trying to learn to pace myself, after reading that if you spend more energy than you make, you will continue to stay fatigued, or get worse. But obviously I did not do a great job with this as I ended up bedridden! But then this April I found this chart in a book called "Hope and Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia" by Alison Bested, M.D., (one of the top chronic fatigue doctors out there) , and it has helped me enormously:
         What has especially helped me is the "Functional Capacity Scale" which rates which activities you are safe to do at different energy levels (which you can rate very precisely by how many number of minutes you can walk - currently I am a level 5 as I can walk 13 minutes a day). It has also helped me think through things like, "I can walk 12-13 minutes - that means I will crash if I try to walk 20 or 30 minutes in Costco. Better go to a smaller store, and get Pete's help with the lifting." In the past, I would have just thought "I feel better - I can go grocery shopping!", and then spent the next few days in bed. It has helped me look for ways of coping, like driving one of those mobility carts in Walmart so I can go to a bigger store and get more done at once. (I did that for this first time this week - at first I was a little embarrassed, but it felt so good zipping along being able to actually do a decent amount of shopping, that I stopped caring about being embarrassed and started really enjoying myself!)
       I am still not great at pacing because 1) I have a type A personality trapped in a type Z body, and 2) I don't like saying "no" and either hurting people's feelings or risking them thinking I am "lazy". But I am learning to be more logical about  where my abilities are at instead of indulging in wishful thinking and hurting myself in the process (Pete is really good for me for this). And I am becoming more assertive out of necessity. This process is really teaching me a lot about patience - I am NOT naturally a patient person, so I think that may be one reason God is allowing me to go through this trial. If I am not patient, I will NOT get better - so I have to rely on God for this every day!
     Two things I make sure to prioritize in pacing myself is Bible/ prayer time, and exercise. God deserves my best energy, and I can not overcome a chronic illness without His constant help (for example, "Please help me resist this temptation to eat cheese!" or "Please help me resist the temptation to carry this laundry basket down the stairs by myself!") Since I am making it first priority, prayer and Bible reading has become more of a habit that I don't have to remind myself to do like I used to. I just do it automatically first thing in the morning (well, first thing being 10 am for me haha, but you get the idea). I am determined to keep this habit the rest of my life.
        Exercise is my next highest priority, as this will over time increase the amount of energy I have to spend. Many days I would rather spend my limited energy doing stuff around the house or being social or painting, than exercising. But I keep reminding myself that in the long run, if I can build my endurance through exercise, I won't have to make a choice between doing the laundry or hanging out with friends or exercising - I will be able to do it all! And already it is paying off - I have more endurance to do more housework, and socially it is helping as I can concentrate on what people are saying better :). I could not do this without my husband's support (and I should add insistance!). If he didn't insist on helping with the housework and that I rest like I should, I would not have the energy to exercise and progress in my endurance levels. I am very humbled and realize I am especially blessed with a very supportive husband, which gives me even more motivation to be faithful in exercising each day. (More on exercise in my next post).
       Filling out the activity logs faithfully each day (it can be painful as it makes me come to terms with reality if I overdo it and "crash") has been one of the most important tools in my recovery. I plan on filling them out until I am a level 9 or even 10!


  1. It's so nice to hear from you and to hear how you are recovering bit by bit. God bless and continue to help you. Hugs. xx

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