When someone who’s generally healthy feels bad, they can usually tell you why: they drank too much last night, they haven’t been sleeping enough, they’re under a lot of stress, they’re getting sick.
When you have a chronic illness, it isn’t always so clear.
I was doing unusually well over the last few weeks. I wasn’t feeling as good as I do in the fall and winter, but as far as summer goes, my pain and fatigue and other symptoms weren’t too bad.
Then I started feeling unusually bad. I was more fatigued. I was depressed. I was in more pain. The symptoms ebbed and flowed but were always around. What happened?
I weighed the possibilities:
- Maybe it’s the weather. But I’ve been staying in air conditioning. And it’s hot and humid, but not nearly as bad as it was last week. There’s no reason I should feel so much worse now.
- Maybe I’m getting my period. Thanks to my PCOS it’s entirely unpredictable and rare. That was an option for a couple days, but I didn’t get it (and if I was going to, I would have within 2 days of the start of the symptoms.)
- Maybe I got glutened. After all, it started just a couple hours after lunch at a restaurant. The symptoms weren’t as bad as a typical gluten reaction, but maybe it was the tiniest amount of contamination. This seemed possible at first, but that was 4 days ago. I would be feeling better by now.
- Maybe it’s some new, unknown thing. That happens sometimes. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know.
- Maybe I’m getting sick. That would make sense. My body could be working extra hard to fight off some tiny little bug that most people wouldn’t even notice.
And of course, I don’t have an answer. Except for a quick trip to pick up a prescription and some groceries yesterday, I haven’t left the house in 4 days. These days, that’s a lot. I’ve been going out most days, even if it’s only briefly, and I’m rarely home for more than 2 or 3 days at a time.
The weird part is, I have no desire to go out or do anything. I know there’s stuff around the house I need to do, and I want to do it, but I just can’t bring myself to even get started. I’m not depressed, I just don’t have any spark. I’m too tired. I’ve been sleeping well enough, and I feel ok when I wake up, but my energy just remains flat. I think I’m going ok and I try to walk around, and my foot hurts too much. Or my knee hurts. Or something else. My stomach bothers me occasionally, not in any ways I haven’t felt before, but this time there aren’t any reasonable triggers. The pain feels like it’s coming from the humidity in the air, but what about the fatigue and stomach issues? Maybe those are too?
The frustrating part is that I don’t know, I can’t know. I won’t have any answers. Even when I eventually feel better, I probably won’t know why this happened. Just like when I have good days, I don’t know what causes them. It’s a big, frustrating mystery. And it affects my entire life.