Fighting the Fatigue
Last updated: September 2023
For us blood-cancer patients fatigue can hit pretty hard. It’s like a weight that gets heavier and heavier. I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. I’ve been fighting fatigue ever since.
Much needed rest helps fight fatigue
Taking a rest and just vegging out can be very welcoming. Passively just watching TV, reading a book, or listening to the radio can give us some much-needed relief through a bad bout of fatigue. Napping, sleeping for long stretches, and resting are to be expected while we are dealing with blood cancer.
I realized that fatigue can lead to being a couch potato, for me anyway. There’s an isolation to passively scrolling and binge-watching. That void can feel empty and lonely after a while. Passive activity doesn’t do much to engage the brain, and there’s no real connection to it.
Combating the side effects of being sedentary
Being sedentary has its own consequences. Can I rest when I need to, but still be active somehow? What can I do?
It’s been over a decade since I was diagnosed with leukemia, and I like to keep things simple. Here’s what I’ve come up with;
- Sitting is better than lying down
- Standing is better than sitting
- Moving is better than standing
Doing small activities while feeling fatiqued
So when the fatigue hits hard I ask myself, do I have to be totally sedentary? I go through the list. Can I sit up rather than lie down? Then maybe I can do a puzzle, a word game, fold laundry, play a video game with friends online, research a favorite topic, knit, paint, color, write … you get the gist.
Maybe being sedentary can involve some activity. As much as we can muster, anyway. When fatigue hits I try to remember to level up if I can. Can I stand? Then maybe I can wash dishes, work on a project, reorganize something.
Sometimes when I am fatigued I have a little bit of energy. I can take care of little things with a little effort. I think about dusting, cleaning a window or a mirror, or washing my blanket.
It might not be a hike, or even a walk around the block, but doing small things around the house can make everything feel a little better when we need to lie down again.I mean, no small task needs to be totally done to completion. We can get back to it later if we need a break.
For me, a little movement is better than none at all. Having a project gives me something to get up for and return to later. Sedentary action. That’s the incentive I need.
- Being sedentary while being active can build connections in a way that a passive activity cannot. I’ve joined cancer support and taken in zoom meetings while resting. I’ve joined an online activity group, learned new things, and ways of coping. All the while I haven't had to leave the couch.
- Forums like this one can keep us engaged in a meaningful way. It can give us new ideas and connections, and doesn't have to take up too much time or effort. I’m so grateful to have a connection to fellow blood-cancer patients this way. I don't know anyone like me. I’ve never met anyone with leukemia face to face.
Thanks so much for reading. Let me know what you think about fatigue in the comments below.
How do you feel about your support system?