I’ve been on full-time sick leave for almost 5 months now. I was diagnosed with fatigue syndrome and according to my doctor it is caused by all the pain I have had for more than a year. The pain has lead to severe fatigue–some level of fatigue I’m used to considering my RA–and that in turned has caused me to be stressed out and so exhausted that my body/brain stopped functioning normally.
Before my sick leave I was constantly exhausted and in lack of energy, and my days consisted of either working or resting/sleeping. I slept on the way to work and I slept on my way home from work. As soon as I got home I went to the sofa and rested before dinner. After dinner and the clean up I went back to the sofa and by 9 pm, at the latest, I was in bed. Rest/sleep had the highest priority in my life and it completely took over everything else. I skipped doing things because I had no energy for it. Not even the weekend gave me enough time to be fully rested and ready for work on Monday morning.
I like my job and even though I felt so bad I somehow managed to hang in there for a long period of time. I ignored warning signs and just kept going… some mornings when I woke up I was so exhausted that it felt impossible to get out of bed but somehow I always managed to do so. I did not want to skip work, I needed to be there… I had responsibilities and my job was, what I thought, the only way to keep me sane.
My brain was always foggy, and my ability to concentrate and remember things just got worse and worse. I was sitting in meetings at my job and I knew people were talking because their mouths were moving but I could not register what they were saying. Or, I could sit at the dinner table with my husband and he was talking about something and within minutes it was like my whole brain just shut down and I told him that he could just stop talking because I could not hear what he was saying.
I’m better now… I can hold conversations without any issues. I can sit in front of the computer for longer periods and concentrate on items I’m familiar with. I remember things I hear and things I need to do. I actually enjoy doing things again and I rarely need to take naps now. I’m still not pain free but it is better thanks to higher dosage of cortisone I’ve been on for 1,5 months. I’m working on going back to my normal dosage again though and slowly lower the dose every other week.
My major issue right now is noise/sound… I still have problems in larger groups and when there are different conversations going at the same time. I can barely listen to music in my own house so being in public can some days be difficult–seriously, do there need to be music playing EVERYWHERE? I always have my ear plugs with me in case the noise is too annoying. A friend of mine recommended listening to rain when I feel stressed and need to calm down and it does actually help, although it is quite weird to sit on the train and listen to rain when it’s sunny outside the window. 🙂
I’m focusing on my sleep and have started to meditate each evening before I go to bed and I’m trying to get a routine of walking and exercising. I’m also back to eating 80% paleo and always dairy free. I’m hoping these things will help me to continue feeling better and getting full control over my body and brain again.
Next week I will be back at the office. I’m scheduled to work 2 hours a day all throughout the month of September. I’m really looking forward to it, and it will be nice to have a daily routine again and to meet my co-workers. I have to confess that I am a bit nervous though, I felt so bad when I left 5 months ago and I really don’t want to feel that way again. I’m keeping an open mind, trying to have positive thoughts and we’ll see how it goes.