So last month was really tough. In addition to some above-normal pain, I spent a lot of September in a kind of fuzzy, not-really-aware zone in which I have to do things to double-check that I'm actually awake.
It's like Inception.
As you may know, that ongoing sleepiness led me to finally seek help from a specialist. I endured a miserable sleep study at the end of August, and two weeks later, I got some vague test results that essentially said, "Yeah, you're sleepy, but we're not really sure why..."
I wouldn't get detailed results for a few more weeks in my follow-up appointment with my doctor. So in the meantime, I struggled through days in which I fell asleep sitting up at my laptop, jerked myself awake from spontaneous naps after work and in which my dog totally gave up on me waking up with my first alarm.
If your dog doesn't even have faith in you, I mean, who does, man?
I was starting to get impatient. It was clear to me that I was tired because my body was in pain, and my body was in pain because I was tired. There! I diagnosed myself again; now, please give me a treatment plan thx.
To add to that, my endometriosis goes in a cycle in which I'm in significant pain and nausea for one week out of the month, and then the following week, I can't eat anything. Okay, I can eat like five things, and they're mostly terrible for me: pizza, cereal, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and Jimmy John's (xoxoxo).
That's about it. Nothing else sounds good, and if you put it in front of me, I immediately lose my appetite.
This time around, my flare-up week and my eat-only-processed-cheese week were especially rough. So adding that to my inexplicable fatigue, I spent most of September being, as I put it, useless. I could barely concentrate at work, I think I maybe did laundry once, and the two times I tried to work out at the gym failed miserably. (There was, however, one day when I was hit with a sudden burst of energy, cleaned my entire house and then died or something.)
All of this culminated into a slightly embarrassing episode in which I was trying to style my hair, as I'm still getting used to not having a pixie cut for the first time in six years. I progressively got more and more frustrated with my thin hair, until I exploded about how I'm always fighting my body, how it never cooperates with me, how everything is terrible, etc. and then I cried.
My husband, Andrew and our dog, Juno both had to coax me off of my metaphorical cliff, and then I later remembered I hadn't taken my antidepressant that day. Funny how that works...
Anyway, despite my melodrama, there was a lot of truth in my tantrum. I hadn't felt in control of my body in a long time, and the fatigue just made me angrier about it.
But after my little meltdown, I realized that something had to give. And unfortunately, in this case, it had to be me. I had to stop fighting and take a seat on the bench for a little bit.
So I gave in. I stopped forcing myself to feel better. Instead of dragging a tired and sore body to the gym, I scaled back to walks and yoga. (My new favorite YouTube instructor is Yoga with Adriene, fyi.)
And I slowly started to feel better. While my energy didn't magically come back, the stress subsided, and that made a major difference. I know endometriosis and stress don't get along, at least in my case, but I tend to forget that and then get further stressed out when I remember...
It at least held me over until my appointment with my sleep doctor last Monday. He told me that while I exhibited a lot of the symptoms of narcolepsy, they couldn't officially diagnose me through my sleep study. On average, it took me five minutes to fall asleep during the 20-minute naps they scheduled for me every two hours. (Completely unsurprising to me. I am the queen of naps.) But I never entered a REM cycle - or, in other words, started dreaming - which meant that they couldn't confirm I had narcolepsy.
They were able to officially rule out sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, which I already knew I didn't have, and put a penciled-in label on me called "idiopathic hypersomnia." In other words, "Yeah, you super sleepy, but you sleep just fine." It's thought to be a neurological condition, and like all of my other conditions, there's not really a cure.
There is, however, treatment. ...treatment that I have yet to receive because of insurance, but treatment! My doctor prescribed me a stimulant that should help keep me awake throughout the day, and I reluctantly accepted it.
I say reluctantly because I feel like I'm on a ton of medication. While I'm actually down from where I was a few months ago, I can't help but worry about the long-term consequences of taking multiple pills, every single day, for years and years.
Even my doctor offhandedly said, "You probably don't want to get pregnant while you're on all of this medication." (Yeah, that's not going to happen, friend, but I appreciate the concern...)
It really sucks to have another diagnosis handed to me. It sucks to exhaust all of my home remedies and have to surrender to the professionals. And as addiction is so frequently in the media, it sucks a third time to be "one of those people" who pops pills in meetings and whose purse clatters with all her meds.
Anyway, that's a tangent I'll probably get to in another blog post. And one I don't feel like dissecting right now.
For now, I'll see how this treatment goes. I'm hoping I won't have to stay on it forever, but given that fatigue is practically synonymous with chronic pain, and given that I've fought this for years without relief... I'll probably have to be.