Fatigue Hints

There are different types of fatigue, as we all know.  I have always looked at them as different problems:

  1. The fatigue you get when you concentrate on something or do some sort of work
  2. The fatigue you get for seemingly no reason – you’re sitting there and can hardly keep your eyes open.  You wouldn’t consider getting up and doing a task – it feels like you’re drugged and going into surgery!

The thing about fatigue is that a pill probably won’t help you long-term.  Yes, you may get a benefit for a time, but at what cost?  It’s a trade-off and you will probably need more of it or it will lose effectiveness as time goes on, you will ruin your liver, it will interact with other drugs, or something else.

If you do the health-and-wellness things I talk about (i.e. the “control” method”), you will be amazed by the difference.  I promise that!  Yes, it’s a bit of a leap of faith and not that drive-through, smart phone solution that we’ve come to expect

You have to be patient and put the work in.  It will work – I promise!  If there was a pill that could fix it all for you, you’d already be taking it.

There are some other things that are more immediate that I use in handling fatigue.  With these, experiences may differ, but they’ve made a huge difference in my life.  They are things that I have researched on my own.  I’ve read research papers, used my own scientific knowledge, and tried them.

Coffee timing

If you’re a coffee drinker, and many MSers and other autoimmune disease sufferers are, you probably drink coffee when you get up in the morning.  The thing is, your body is raring and ready to go when you wake up.  Maybe you get a “caffeine headache,” but you can slowly fix that.

I started drinking coffee later in the morning – when my circadian rhythms dictate that my body should slow down.  By getting my body used to having water or some other decaffeinated beverage when I get up and then switching to caffeinated beverages later, I was able to keep my energy levels consistent.  It made a huge difference.  Try it!

Energy levels and caffeine timing

Energy levels and caffeine timing

Vitamin B12

I regularly have blood work done, as many of you on medications probably do, but when I had it done a few years ago, something unexpected happened.  My neurologist called me.

He called me to ask if I knew that I was anemic.  Now, for those that don’t know, anemia is a lack of oxygen in the blood.  Low oxygen means fatigue.  The connection is pretty obvious.

He went on to say that I also had a low hematocrit.  Hematocrit is basically the “thickness” of your blood.  It is often times an indication that your red blood cell (RBC) count is low.  RBCs carry iron, which binds oxygen.  Low RBCs mean low oxygen which means anemia – get it?

He asked me about my vitamin B12 intake, a major factor in RBC development.  I figured it was high because I am a pretty conscientious eater, so I knew I was getting enough in my diet.  I was also having an energy shot every day at about 11:00 because I hadn’t yet figured out all of these energy solutions and it was a major problem at work – energy shots are loaded with vitamin B12.

What I then figured out was that it doesn’t matter how much vitamin B12 I consume if my body can’t absorb it.  I started exploring different ways to get vitamin B12 in my body.  I knew shots were an option, but I was trying to avoid them.

I discovered SUBLINGUAL (under the tongue) tablets.  This way the vitamin is absorbed in the blood immediately without having to go through the gut.  I could buy these tablets in my local grocery store.

I started taking them that day and the difference was enormous.  The problem with anemia and MS is that you can’t really tell the difference.  Anemia slows you down over the course of time.  I thought it was just a result of my disease.

I couldn’t believe the difference!

Refined Carbohydrates and Sugar

I was able to determine a number of years ago that carbohydrates seemed to affect my energy levels drastically.  When I say “drastically,” I’ll go back to the drugged-before-surgery analogy.  Within minutes of eating the wrong thing, I couldn’t walk or talk and it took me the rest of the day just to approach normal.

After months of documenting types of foods and identifying patterns, I figured out that refined carbohydrates – typically anything with white flour – was a major part of the problem.

There was also a problem with sugars.  Eventually I figured out that any shorter-chained sugar caused major problems while the longer chained “table sugar” seemed to be OK.

Fructose and glucose are horrible individually, but when they’re linked together chemically, they are fine.  Why would that be?

A fast rise in blood-sugar causes inflammation, which is a major issue with MS.  My guess is that the shorter chained sugars spike the blood sugar faster causing more inflammation.  The refining process in flour also makes the blood sugar rise faster.

The result is more fatigue.

That’s merely my theory, but there’s no doubt that fructose (fruit sugar which is in all fruits, many syrups, honey, and more) and glucose knock me out.  Try to find something without high-fructose corn syrup!fructose&glucose&sucrose

So, by cutting refined carbohydrates any shorter chained sugars out of my diet, my energy levels changed dramatically.  I’m now an obsessive label-reader, but one with more energy!

These things are part of my life at this point and they have made such a huge difference that I wouldn’t change them even if the doctor told me to.

It’s quality of life, right?