I know what it’s like to be tired: I’m a college grad. I’m a writer. Heck, I’m a writer with a day job.
But about once a week, I couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t use that phrase lightly. This was like a full system shut-down. Productivity is my favorite high. Hard work is a badge of honor I wear. And yet, I could not get out of bed.
It wasn’t a battle of wills. It wasn’t just that I’m not a morning person. It wasn’t playing hooky from work to stay home to write. (As I told my co-workers, I wish it was!) It wasn’t simply depression; I know what depression feels like too.
At its worst, I was spending 18 hours in bed.
And I was in pain too. Long-time blog readers know that I’ve battled with my wrists for over a decade. But in spite of all the extra care I was taking– ergonomics, chiropractics, occupational therapy, oils, stretching, prayers– they were getting worse, not better. My whole body would feel achy, the way you feel the day after you’ve helped a friend move. Headaches, which have never really been an issue for me, were coming more frequently and blooming into migraines. And my mind– which is the best tool I own– would sometimes feel so foggy I’d have to give up on things like how to send a text in the morning or how to make a phone call. And I was so hot— I’d be melting away on days that really shouldn’t have melted me.
But the doctors said I was fine.
I started to feel like a complainer. I wondered if maybe I was just a whiny brat who was indulging a lazy streak, even though I’ve never had a lazy streak in my life. (Before all my former roommates pipe up: yes, yes, you’re right. When it comes to cleaning, I’m the laziest.) When you hear again and again that you’re fine, you start to wonder if maybe you really are fine.
Then, three articles fell into my lap in succession, all in the course of one week. All three were stories about women whose doctors told them they were fine until they half-believed it themselves. One of these women was diagnosed years later with a disorder that medication remedied easily. Another of the women later discovered she had a very serious illness, one the doctor had never tested her for, just sending her away with a “friendly reminder” to lose weight and she’d feel better. Another of the women ended up dying from from an aggressive endometrial cancer.
These women made me take a deep breath, steel myself, and set up yet another appointment where I insisted I was not fine.
Fast forward to now. I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Blood tests and an MRI on my wrist has revealed inflammation and joint effusion. A sleep study showed that I have 45 “sleep disturbances” an hour, which is well into the severe range of sleep apnea.
I sort of get a kick out of this chart. This shows eight hours of sleep, from left to right. The yellow part is where I had the deepest type of sleep– delta sleep– during which the body heals and repairs itself.
Yup, look again. That little yellow part. I got about 5-7 minutes of the deepest sleep the whole night.
Everything is starting to make sense.
I am not fine. But I will be.