Wednesday, February 17, 2010

5 Tips to Manage RA, Fatigue, and a Family

Have you ever gone to the beach and tried to run through knee-deep water?

It's pretty hard to do.

Either you keep your legs in the water and slog your way through or you lift your legs out of the water and splash wildly.  Regardless of the choice you make, your progress will be slow and tiring.

Running through knee-deep water at the beach feels a lot like going through my day with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue.

Chronic fatigue is one of the major symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The 'chronic' part means it doesn't completely go away no matter how much I sleep or rest.  The 'fatigue' part means extreme tiredness, lack of energy, or weariness.

Honestly there are days when the fatigue overwhelms me.  On those days we do the minimum amount house work and school work.  I generally lay on the couch resting while my children play in their bedrooms (and make huge messes!).

Thankfully I've learned a few tricks to lessen chronic fatigue so that those overwhelmed days are not the norm for us.

Here's how I manage chronic fatigue and a busy household:
  1. Plan my daily routine.  Having a routine or schedule means I don't have to waste energy thinking about what activity we should do next.  We just follow our routine and do what needs to be done. 
  2. Just do one more thing.  I frequently feel too tired to clean up a messy room.  But I can usually find the energy to 'do one more thing.' By breaking a task down into small steps I don't feel overwhelmed and get the job done.
  3. Exercise.  I recently added exercise to my routine.  Right now it's only 30 minutes a day but I feel an increase in energy and decrease in joint stiffness.
  4. Eat less (or no) caffeine and sugar.  I removed hot black tea from my diet in December and have experienced fewer headaches.  I also have a better sense of my energy level.  It wasn't easy to give up my tea but I feel better as a result. 
  5. Rest after lunch each day. Following lunch all four of my children rest on their beds.  My 1 and 3 year olds nap for 2 hours, while my 5 and 6 year olds sit quietly and read books for an hour.  It is occasionally a battle to keep the big boys on their beds but it is worth the fight for me to have an hour of rest on most days!!
Dealing with chronic fatigue is an unfortunate effect of rheumatoid arthritis.  But by learning a few coping strategies I've made sure fatigue doesn't keep me from enjoying life with my family. 

*** This post is part of my Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis series.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one on TV. This post is intended to tell my experiences NOT to serve as medical advice. If your symptoms sound similar, please consult a physician.

Disclaimer: I have not been asked by a pharmaceutical company or any related organizations to write these posts. I have not been compensated for these posts in anyway (including money, medication, or medical treatments).

1 comment:

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

I don't think I realized how much you have to deal with fatigue. I often think about the joint pain or even the struggle to do certain things (open jars, peel potatoes or things of that nature), but never the fatigue. I have learned a lot through this series! Sounds like you have some good strategies for handling the fatigue and a busy family!

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