Fatigue is being tired – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It means having less energy to do the things you need or want to do.
I feel guilty for feeling tired. I feel guilty for having a headache. I feel guilty for complaining that I am having a headache. I feel guilty for going on medical leave (because I know my colleagues will have to cover my duties). I feel guilty resting while everyone is working. I feel guilty when I could not focus and took a longer time to complete tasks. I feel guilty when I had to cancel appointments because I could not keep my eyes open. I feel guilty for not wanting to engage in a conversation because it’s exhausting to talk. I feel guilty for not contributing as much as I should to the organization which pays me and feeds the family. I feel guilty for choosing sleep over meetups with friends and relatives. I feel guilty when I get an energy boost and decided to have a jolly good time with the dogs and the children instead of doing work.
Many many more guilt moments…
So I googled and read up, hoping to find some explanations if anyone asks, “Why are you always feeling tired?”
Here’s what I gathered from the American Cancer Society website:
Cancer may cause symptoms like fever, extreme tiredness (fatigue), or weight loss. This may be because cancer cells use up much of the body’s energy supply, or they may release substances that change the way the body makes energy from food. Cancer can also cause the immune system to react in ways that produce these signs and symptoms. Sometimes, cancer cells release substances into the bloodstream that cause symptoms that are not usually linked to cancer. For example, some lung cancers make hormone-like substances that raise blood calcium levels. This affects nerves and muscles, making the person feel weak and dizzy.
The fatigue that comes with cancer, called cancer-related fatigue, is different from the fatigue of daily life. Everyday, normal fatigue usually doesn’t last long. It often gets better when you rest. Cancer-related fatigue is worse and it causes more distress. It’s not the tired feeling people remember having before they had cancer. People describe it as feeling weak, listless, drained, or “washed out.” Some may feel too tired to eat, walk to the bathroom, or even use the TV remote. It can be hard to think, as well as move your body. Rest does not make it go away, and just a little activity can be exhausting. For some people, this kind of fatigue causes more distress than pain, nausea, vomiting, or depression. Cancer-related fatigue can differ from one day to the next in how bad it is and how much it bothers you. It can be overwhelming and make it hard for you to feel well. It can make it hard for you to be with your friends and family. It can make it hard for you to do things you normally do, including going to work.
Many people with cancer say fatigue is the most distressing side effect of cancer and its treatment – it can have a major effect on a person’s quality of life. Fatigue is the most common side effect of cancer treatment, and it often hits without warning. Everyday activities – talking on the phone, shopping for groceries, even lifting a fork to eat – can be overwhelming tasks.
So my friends, pardon me if I had come across to you as unfriendly, or distant. I am really just feeling very tired.