Thursday, April 14, 2016

Would You Rather?

Remember playing that game Would You Rather as a kid?  You know the one.  Would you rather eat a bug or touch a snake?  Would you rather walk on hot coals or pet a snake?  I would choose whatever didn’t have to do with being in the vicinity of the snake.  I have a phobia of snakes and would rather set my hair on fire than see, be around or especially touch a snake.  My friends and family always made sure to put snakes in the rather because they know how I feel about snakes.  I mean really I understand snakes are a necessary evil.  We would be overwhelmed with rodents if it weren’t for snakes.  I get it.  They serve a valuable purpose but please just let them do it far away from me.  I digress.  This is not about snakes, or rats or even being a kid.  This is about Would You Rather.

I have an autoimmune disorder. I won’t go into details other than I’ve had it most of my adult life and yes it’s a real illness.  I won’t call it a disease because that sounds icky and curable.   It is one of those illnesses that you can’t see.  I don’t walk with a limp or have huge sores all over my body.  It is invisible.  Believe me, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  It causes extreme fatigue.  The kind of fatigue that makes you feel like all your energy just ran out your toes and spilled into a puddle on the ground.  You want to bend over, gather it up and put it back in your body but you can’t because you are just too damned exhausted.  Your body aches like you’ve been on a three day drunk and you are trying to sober up.  It is as if you have the worst case of flu you’ve ever had times one thousand.

 You don’t always know when it will flare but you can bet it will be at a most inopportune time.  Standing in the check -out line at Target you will feel a wave of exhaustion and then you are unsure of whether you can make it to the cashier before your body gives completely out and you will need to be carried out like a sack of potatoes.  Those of us who are experienced at this know the only thing to do is apologize to those around and abandon your cart and head for your car, where you sit until you can gather the energy to drive home.  You leave a contrail of your energy as you go.  Sadly with your energy so goes your cognitive abilities which means you must concentrate very hard on driving which drains more energy.  It is a vicious cycle the more you concentrate the more energy is expelled and the more energy you expel the more fog you create in your brain. 

During these flares you tend to play the Would You Rather game.  Only instead of would you rather ride an elephant or swim with stingrays or some fun activity you play would you rather take a shower or make breakfast.  You only have energy for one activity and you make these choices based on where you are in life.  You rationalize I took a shower two days ago, so I can make breakfast today.   Or you tell yourself I ate yesterday so I can shower today.  Yes, really.  You are really that fatigued.   You play this game with yourself all day long. 

 I say fatigued because fatigue is different than being tired.  Fatigue is wanting to do and go and be but you physically are unable to muster the energy.  Tired is from lack of sleep, or exertion.  The kicker is you are tired because you don’t sleep.  The fatigue keeps you from sleeping which feeds the exhaustion which exacerbates the fatigue. Not only are you fatiqued but you are tired and exhausted which makes your fatigue much worse.   This is a feeling that is deep in your bones and consumes your soul.  You try to read a book or watch a movie but you can’t follow the plot because it takes too much energy.  It is not depression or laziness it is fatigue. 

What’s your Would You Rather have an autoimmune disease or pet a snake?  Hand me that snake.