Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Does fatigue limit you?

Nicole Lemelle 

Fatigue has been a huge issue for me recently. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attend my usual MS aquatics class, but this particular day fatigue had me in a bad way. So instead, I opted to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill. I clutch the bars for balance and creep along at 0.5 mph.

The goal for today was 10 minutes. Just 10 lousy minutes! That’s what I usually do on good days. What made me think I could go today even though I was too tired to go to the pool? I don’t know … Was it denial? Wishful thinking?

Six minutes into my walk, I saw Tommy, my husband, get up and stand closer to me. I thought to myself, “I must be dragging my feet. Nicole, pick them up. Pick them up.” At seven minutes, I could feel myself winded, sweating, and my heart rate was through the roof.  I’m still only going O.5 mph!

I made a very smart move. I pressed stop. I thought a break was called for. I guess hubby thought I was finished. Nope. I caught my breath and started again. The machine started at 0.3 mph. Yeah! Then it climbed back up to 0.5. Shoot!

I needed to believe, “I can do this!”

Then I took another step. My left foot didn’t clear the tread. In turn, I tripped and that was the end of my workout. Eight minutes!

I just want to walk again and in my delusion, this exercise was key to making that happen. Folks, I know you know multiple sclerosis doesn’t work like that. I do, too. But still, I lowered my head in defeat once again and muttered to my husband, “I couldn’t make 10 minutes.”

He smiled and said, “It’s only a number.”

Learn more about fatigue here.

Nicole Lemelle blogs regularly at My New Normals. Read more about her here.


  1. gosh, so sorry you are having such a bad time. I have been there many times myself, but recently, after having my CCSVI procedure done, all of my fatigue has gone. Disappeared. Do I walk like a "normal" person? No. But it's so much better than I was!!! Maybe you should give it a try. You definitely can't lose anything.
    good luck!

  2. Nichole,

    Your husband is right it' s just a number, but I relate to you lately my fatigue has been so bad that it takes much effort just to take my dog out for a short walk. My goal is just making it to the end of the driveway without falling down or passing out. Your husband seems very supportive. My financee' still has a hard time understanding my fatigue because he remembers me when I used to couldnt never sit still. Now everything I do is a challange. But I refuse to give up. I hope you do the same.

  3. I know how you feel... It's hard to be faced with your body not doing "your minimum". It's hard, but keep trying Nicole. Joan

  4. Nicole i have done the same battle with fatigue but I feel better when I fight it to accomplish at least one thing. that way when I collapse for the rest of the day I do not feel like I did nothing. I set two goals for the day no matter what and everything else is just extra. I accomplish those two goals even if takes all day. I take one day a week out for rest although i tend to do laundry that day and dishes but we have a dishwasher and i can sit doing laundry. Hold your head high because you did do at least 8minutes. You get an a for effort. so many just give in from get go and try nothing.

  5. We're working on a Momentum magazine article on the emotional, physical and mental aspects of fatigue. If you experience fatigue and are interested in being interviewed for the article, please contact Gary Sullivan at gary.sullivan@nmss.org.

  6. Nicole, I applaud your efforts! How many of us start out with a goal in mind and don't succeed? But then, there are those of us that are too disillusioned to keep going. I know because I am sometimes on both sides of that spectrum. I get so tired of hearing "try and try again" but we have to. Today, I too tried to accomplish a goal but failed. Instead I let depression take over which made my fatigue even worse. I am trying again. You will too! Thanks for sharing today!

  7. Fatigue is what derailed my career long before mobility issues intruded. I had improved my capacity through diet et al. but lately fatigue has come roaring back. Lots of likely culprits, including massive stress and ordinary MS variability. Little understood; even less,"curable." Maybe when the stress lightens somewhat I can address the issue.

    Hope your holiday was a good one.


  8. That's a keeper!
    (not the eight minutes, the husband : )

  9. When I played soccer, we always did agility drills at the end of practice. During one of my lunches last month, I went running and in front of the windows to the gym, I tripped and fell on my head. It's easy to ask why I was doing the agility drills in the rain at the end of a run when I was tired before the run. I still stand by my answer. We never truly know our boundaries unless we are willing to fail and fall. The athlete side of me would look at your 8 min walk as just establishing one days outer boundary. Tomorrow or the next, maybe you only do 7:45 or 7:30. Maybe you continue till this seems easy once more, and you can try for 8:15.

    Maybe a month from now you find your limit is 6min. I bet if you never tried it would be 4 or 5 min. Maybe the best we can do is slow the process. Just remember the all time champion has never been defeated. Even if we win a round or three, we can only hope to force a draw for as long as possible. Nobody ever beats Father Time.

    1. Beautifully said! I've never been an athelete but MS has definately sparked a determination to FIGHT and push myself like never before! I refuse to find myself in a wheelchair and can't say I did EVERYTHING in my power to keep it from happening.

    2. Beautifully said! I have never been an athelete but MS has sparked.a determination in me that I've never had! I refuse to, one day, think back and realize that I didn't do everything in my power to keep myself out of the wheelchair or bed I'm stuck in. I've read so many inspiring stories from people fighting MS by pushing themselves in the way you described. Every day, every minute, is potentially completly different from the last and all you can do is the very best you can do at the time your doing it. You can't say OMG, I 'm so much weaker than yesterday, I'm going downhill! You have to do the most you can, maybe bust your head open, and KNOW tomorrow it will be easier! Even if it isn't, ONE tomorrow, it will be. Gotta stay positive and strong so that you can pull yourself out if the depression that we all feel to some degree or another at some time.

  10. Since i've changed my diet (more: fish, all kind of vegetables, fruit, nuts, soybean and derivatives; no: milk and dairy products, meat - just chicken) I've improved a lot and now I can walk a 1km without stopping.

  11. Nicole, thanks for sharing that I am also really struggling with fatigue right now it is very disappointing how it limits you when your used to the get up and go. My boyfriend does not understand he thinks it is a mental thing. I wish it was that easy! I plan to hang in there I can't quit and you do the same!


  12. I started having fatigue problems in 1972, years before my dx in 1988. There's a lot I've had to give up because it's too exhausting - but there's still a lot I can do, with planning.

    If I'm lying in bed, unable to think clearly, & it filters into my mind that I might do better if I eat something, I can hold onto the walls & counters with my eyes closed, reach for that soup can, slide along the counter to where the microwave, the bowls & the spoons are clustered next to the stool & the sink, open my eyes long enough to empty the soup into the bowl & heat it in the microwave while I sit, resting - so planning when I'm OK means fatigue isn't stopping me when I'm not OK.

  13. Take lots of breaks, sit down even, then when you feel ready to try again you have a bit more stamina to continue. Then take another break. My PT stressed to me it's more important to move correctly as possible so your body learns the proper way than just rush and keep stumbling. Something about training the nerves to override what the muscles think they are supposed to be doing. It’s a disconnect between what we want to do (what we used to do easily) and what we are capable of doing now.

  14. Nicole,
    I definitely know how you feel. I used to run 10 and 12k races. Now I can barely make 5 minutes on the treadmill. For the person that mentioned the CCSVI procedure, yes, there is nothing to lose but the money. I had it done, and it did nothing for me. I speak to someone regularly who had it done, and it did nothing for her either. I guess some people had luck with it. I also had stem cell therapy twice in Costa Rica, and it did do something for me. It made me worse each time. Fatigue is one of the worse symptoms of my MS. People without MS have a difficult time understanding it. It is like running up against a brick wall. I can't even remember what it feels like to be tired normally. I won't give up though, and neither should you. Keep exercising.

  15. Hey Ferretdancer, I have just realised that my physio has been saying the same things to me for 2 years and I only just twigged what she means on reading your comments. TxTxTxTx Margaret

  16. I have had ms for 18 years i have ywo children a girl who is 16 and a boy who is 13. My husband is wonderfil he works all day and then comes home to fix supper and help kids do homework and take care of anomals and sometimes does laundry. I am soooo tired i sleep up to 18 hours a day there is no way i can go to work and I feel horrible cause i ended up stopping my M.S. meds due to price and alot of other things I can't even go and enjoy all the things my family does i feel left out. I have M.S depression, restless leg syndrome,anxiety,trigemenial neuralgia, and now fibromyalgia, HUG,severe headaches, hands shake and optic nevere is scared and can't get a good pair of glasses. But what bothers me the most is the fatigue.