Before I go any further I should state that I will still be apologising for when I have done something wrong, like for all the cups of tea I have knocked over and blamed on the cat (sorry Fluffy) or when I have a poor attitude and moan to my boyfriend about being too good to do the dishes. Sorry for my terrible attitude towards domesticity Jack. I may even apologise for saying that I’ll be somewhere at 10am and rocking up at 3pm. It takes a lot time to look as bad as this and I am sorry for my poor timekeeping, I really am.
But I’m no longer sorry for anything to do with my arthritis.
I’m not sorry for being in pain.
I’m not sorry for being a bit slow and limpy.
I’m not sorry for feeling unwell because of medication.
I’m not sorry for taking time off of work to attend medical appointments.
I’m not sorry for staying home instead of going out.
And I’m not sorry for being tired.
Well. That’s not true. I am sorry for being tired. Always apologising for it. Sorry for yawning at work. I’m sorry for saying I’m tired in front of the man with the young baby who looks at me like I Have no reason to be tired. Sorry for being a bit later to work than I anticipated. Sorry I can’t stay up and watch the movie. Sorry I don’t want to drive today.
I feel like I have to justify my tiredness every day.
Sure, I got enough sleep last night. Lots of sleep in fact. But it’s never a restful sleep. I never wake up feeling refreshed. I go to sleep tired and in pain and I wake up tired and in pain. So the cycle continues.
Over the last one year I’ve been getting a lot better at not apologising for being in pain. I try to medicate accordingly to keep the aches and pains at bay but sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s not my fault that I hurt, so I’m not sorry. But being tired? I’m really sorry. I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.
I apologise almost every day for being tired. I can’t seem to accept the fact that not only am I allowed to be tired, I am expected to be tired. Fatigue is one of the main side effects of both inflammatory arthritis and methotrexate.
Over the last 6 working days, I have phoned in sick to work on 3 of them. Why? Because I am too tired to come in. Not in a ‘I went to bed a bit late last night and I’m now a bit sleepy’ kinda way, but in a ‘I can’t even lift my head off of the pillow let alone be trusted to drive my car to work because I might fall asleep at the wheel’ kinda way. It is an all-consuming fatigue. Brushing my teeth feels like the hardest most tiring job in the world, so on days like these, I don’t even bother. I’d rather spend the day fuzzy mouthed than have to take a nap from the exhaustion brushing my teeth can cause me. Plus if you drink enough cups of tea you won’t even notice after a while.
The day at home isn’t spent with my feet up watching Phil and Holly on This Morning. It’s spent asleep in bed, curtains drawn all day, texting my Mum to ask her to come and look after me because I may be nearly 29 but I can’t cope with life (Mum, when you read this, thanks for everything. Now, go put the kettle on and make me a cup of tea woman!)
Fatigue has become such an all-encompassing part of my life, yet I still find myself apologising for it. I can’t accept it so I don’t expect other people to. But they do.
Not only have my family accepted my fatigue as a part of who I (temporarily) am, but so have people who I don’t know particularly well.
My work colleagues over this last week have been INCREDIBLE. Sure they like a laugh at my expense (who doesn’t. My life has become a sitcom) but they have rallied together and offered me support that has been so overwhelming it has bought me to tears. Not even just little drops hovering on my eyelashes that threaten to fall but can be dabbed away before anybody notices, but actual tears. Wails. Sobs. A big, loud, nose dripping kind of cry. I don’t need to justify to them my decision to take the day off. To take a half day. To try and work from home only to fall asleep 30 minutes after logging on. They get it. They know. I don’t need to apologise to them and more than that, they get quite angry when I apologise. I’m tired and they know it. They don’t judge me. They constantly tell me to put myself and my health first. Frogmarching me to my car, telling me to listen to my body and go home and rest.
Why, if these men at work can accept that I suffer from fatigue can I not? Why do I feel like I’m letting myself down? If I could see my fatigue would I accept it then? I wonder what it would look like? Probably a big angry bear that punches me in the face with his big bear paws when he wants me to feel fatigued. But I’d accept the angry bear because I could see him. I can accept the pain when I walk because my feet are mangled and my ankles swollen. But foundation covers a whole multitude of sins, tired eyes included.
I may never fully come to terms with how fatigued I am. My luck means that the day I fully embrace it in a big friendly bear hug, my medication will change and fatigue will be a thing of the past.
But from now on, I’m not going to apologise for my big angry fatigue bear, and neither should you.