The Fatigue Factor

I often hear, “My family just doesn’t understand how exhausted I am.” And it is probably true. I don’t think the average person can comprehend the constant fatigue of inflammatory arthritis. I’m going to explain the fatigue factor in a very unscientific way, without journal references to back me up. This is how it was explained to me several years ago and I hope it makes sense to you.

Pain is pain, everyone has experienced some degree of pain in their lives. You can probably understand to some extent the pain of arthritis. I describe the pain as my worse toothache pain x2, and in multiple joints, not just one tooth. As bad as the pain can be at times, I can handle it, it’s the fatigue that gets to me.

At the root of most cases of inflammatory arthritis is an overactive immune system. I picture the immune system as an army of tiny little soldiers. The soldiers’ job is to fight off whatever might invade and attack our systems. Some of us ended up with very confused soldiers, they attack our own bodies, usually starting with the joints.

Do you get very tired when you have the flu? When you have the flu, your immune system is fighting off the invading flu army. Fighting takes energy, fighting makes you tired. When the flu is over and your immune system stops fighting, your energy returns.

Our immune systems never quit fighting, they are continually at war. On a good day, those of us with inflammatory arthritis feel much like you do when you have the flu-tired, lethargic, generally yucky! On a bad day the fighting sucks up every once of energy we have. We are exhausted right down to our bones. This exhaustion can stop a person dead in their tracks. And very often this horrendous feeling of exhaustion can last several days or even weeks.

So the next time your friend says, “I can’t go, I am just exhausted.” She isn’t making an excuse, she isn’t lazy or lacking motivation, she is honestly totally exhausted, there is a war going on in her body! A little understanding on your part would be greatly appreciated!