Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fatigue, the cousin of Hungry

I have to say that I'm feeling quite useless at work these days. I'm tired and "foggy" and not feeling on top of my game. It's that damn fatigue coupled with the low magnesium level. "Chemo brain" is a fuzzy feeling, like trying to think through a fog. Throw in a little bit of exhaustion and fatigue, and it doesn't leave you at your cognitive best. It's hard to concentrate. It's hard to focus. It's a little hard to write this blog sometimes and have it make sense. It's a little bit like the feeling you get when you've had one or two or more drinks too many, and you don't want to be drunk. You try to will yourself into clarity, but it doesn't always work. Chemo brain may occur after chemotherapy and can include difficulties with memory, concentration, language, attention, reaction time, organizational skills and other mental functions.
I cannot express how deep and debilitating it can be. I'm wondering if it started now because I finally stopped the frantic pace I was on? In a survey of patients, approximately 12% indicated their fatigue was so significant they would rather be dead than fatigued. That's exactly how I felt last week! Some patients will show symptoms of depression, but it is related more to a lack of energy than true depression. Some have described this fatigue as a heavy feeling, like "moving though mud." While there are no medical tests that can diagnosis this fatigue, it is probably related to the body using all of its spare energy to repair itself from the chemotherapy. Theoretically, therapies that increase energy (exercise) or the "flow" of energy (exercise, acupuncture, specific supplements) might be beneficial.
I have this picture of "Fatigue" in my mind. He's similar to the "Hungry" character on the Weight Watchers commercial (the orange fuzzy guy). Only "Fatigue" is camouflaged because that little bastard seems to hide everywhere and get you when you least expect it! He sure has had my number recently. I used to be able to outrun him but he's either gotten faster or I've really slowed down!

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