This is not the day I planned to come back from my holiday hiatus, nor is this the post I planned for the beginning of a new year. But as they say: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”
I made it through the holidays pretty well. One final family event was beyond my capacity, and my husband proceeded to come down with a sinus infection during his time off, but compared to previous years I was doing alright in early January. I gave myself extra days of rest, and I made some fabulous lists of things that either need doing or that I want to accomplish. I felt like I had a handle on things. Which, of course, is the signal in my personal universe for the wheels to come off the cart.
I got a norovirus.
Or something like a norovirus. Stomach bug, food poisoning, stomach flu, whatever. The acute symptoms lasted about 24 hours, and my gut took another four days to normalize. But it’s the fatigue to the point of prostration that kicked my butt. For about a week, I was sleeping ten hours at night and another three to five hours during the day. And the time I was awake, I spent staring out the window or watching tv. The first sign of improvement was when I started to stress about everything on those lovely lists I had made the week before. I’m sleeping a little less now, and writing this post, so I guess things are looking up.
It amazes me that even after more than 18 years of this disease, “fatigue” can still take me by surprise. Fatigue is such an inadequate word to describe the experience. And as most patients know, even the small systemic disruption caused by a common virus has an enormous negative impact on our body systems. I seem to be strongly resistant to upper respiratory viruses, almost never catching my husband’s colds. But we are the reverse when it comes to gastroenteritis – he never gets it and I do.
If the severe fatigue cleared up after a few days, it wouldn’t be so bad. But as it stretches into week two, I get more anxious. Will I get back to baseline? Will this acute illness cause a permanent worsening of my activity? How will we cope if I become more disabled? How will I endure day after day of sleep and misery? So far, I’ve been lucky. I always return to baseline, even though it can take weeks. And I have learned (the hard way) to listen to my body when it screams “SLEEP!”
So Happy Freaking New Year. I hope this is not an omen for how the year will go. And I hope I’ll be back to baseline and resuming my planned activities and blog posts very soon.