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Woman and her dog laying on a couch

Fighting, and Giving Into, Fatigue

I’m not good at being tired.

As I write this, I’m struggling to stay awake. I have things to do and stories to write, but I can do these things later. There is no reason to resist taking a nap. Yet I’m thinking of going to the local coffee shop to get a cappuccino with an extra shot of espresso, or a coffee with a shot (a red eye).

Worrying that fatigue means relapse

After my stem cell transplants, when I was tired, I worried that I was relapsing. Then I would think of other reasons to be tired and get over it. I know why I’m tired now. I played an hour and a half of doubles tennis today. Yesterday, I got it in my head that I needed to run up and down hills. I ran about four miles.

I was doing it to see how I would fare if I ran the Saint Patrick’s Race again. It’s a hilly 10-K near me, in Holyoke, Mass., that plays a big role in my leukemia story. When I ran it in March, 2003, I was about 10 minutes slower than usual. And I almost fainted at the end.

For at least a couple of months, I had felt sluggish while running. I imagine that leukemia was brewing in February, when I ran a 10-mile race. I remember feeling a little under the weather. I thought I was coming down with something. My mother said not to go. But I had a plan, and I wanted to stick with it.

Fighting fatigue

The people who say I overdo it are probably right. Sometimes my desire to plow ahead has gotten me into trouble. It has led to big falls. But the drive must have something to do with my survival.

The running kept me otherwise strong. And it kept me in touch with my body so that after the Saint Patrick’s race I knew something was wrong and I should go to the doctor. So, I caught the leukemia before the aggressive cancer totally weakened me.

After my transplants, I learned how to modulate – somewhat.

But before, not so much.

If I felt sick, I would ask myself how sick I really was. If I had a fever, I didn’t run. But if I had a cold or anything that wasn’t major, I went ahead and did it. I usually felt better afterwards. Or if not better, no worse for the wear.

Letting myself rest

I’m sure I’m not the only one who identifies with a particular race. But I call the Saint Patrick’s Race “my race.” I’ve run it many times post-cancer. The last time, I wasn’t in the best shape. But true to my nature, I went ahead and did it. And I finished last.

I found this pretty embarrassing. But others said it was impressive. It’s interesting to realize that others see us in a light that’s totally different from how we view ourselves.

Today, I finally had to listen to my body and take a nap. My Labrador retriever was on her side of the couch. I covered up with a soft blanket and listened to her breathing. Giving into fatigue wasn’t such a bad thing.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • MaryW
    5 days ago

    Great post Ronni. I can totally see how people feel bad enough to climb on the couch as I have had those days BUT every time I make myself move with a walk, run, bike ride or other workout, I feel so much better.
    Good for you for your stellar running endeavors.

  • Ronni Gordon author
    5 days ago

    Thanks Mary! Good for you for getting out there!

  • Ann Harper moderator
    1 week ago

    I think our bodies know what we need. If it’s saying to rest, we probably should. I think it’s impressive to keep on going even when the going gets tough. As far as other people go, I guess they do look at us differently. It is what it is.

  • Nuttinet
    1 week ago

    Most people think cancer is breast, lung, or colon. They are the most out there. I’ve been asked many times if I have one of these. Explaining no it’s a blood cancer people look at you funny. They don’t realize that one minute you are perky and the next so tired you have to rest. Blood cancers affect the body differently than others seem to.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    7 days ago

    @nuttinet sometimes some people don’t get what is blood cancer and the types. If they look at you strange educate them a bit on what it’s about, and hopefully, it opens up for a healthy dialogue.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    1 week ago

    People just don’t understand. They don’t really know all the different types of cancer there are. It’s not part of their lives and something they have to think about. I’ve found that most people are curious though and so I try to give them information if they seem interested.

  • Ronni Gordon author
    1 week ago

    This is great and so true. Maybe I should use it in another post, that idea that people don’t get it. If you want to tell me your name, I could quote you, otherwise I could do it anonymously.

  • Nuttinet
    1 week ago

    My name is Lynette you are more than welcome to use anything.

  • Nuttinet
    1 week ago

    I noticed that those around me have decided that since I got mm my brain must be infected also. They treat me like I’m two. I know they mean well but I’m sick not stupid. I take medication daily and do not need them asking did you take your pills?

  • Ann Harper moderator
    1 week ago

    People just don’t understand. They don’t really know all the different types of cancer there are. It’s not part of their lives and something they have to think about. I’ve found that most people are curious though and so I try to give them information if they seem interested.

  • bluchs
    1 week ago

    Ronni, God Bless You.
    I wish I could do 1/2 of what you are able to do, WOW!
    You should be proud of yourself.
    Fatigue, of course, heck a normal healthy person would feel fatigue.
    I worked on my vehicle on Monday and Tuesday, now it is Friday and I have been in pain and fatigued, for 3 days.
    I am proud of myself, and pleased I was able to do what I did.
    But I am very tired and fatigued.
    It is OK, it sucks, but it is OK.
    Be proud of yourself and go ahead and pat yourself on the back, you deserve it.
    Don’t be embarrassed, it is not a bad thing, it just is what it is.
    Best of luck to you, you go girl!
    Let Me pat you on the back, well done.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    1 week ago

    I think we have to be proud of what we are capable of doing. Good for you. Rest up and then tackle your next big job!

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