Chronic fatigue is a rarely recognized aspect of endometriosis, yet it’s a common symptom. Very few doctors diagnose it or suggest a line of treatment.
I once went to a nutritionist because my IBS-like symptoms were acting up. (Then again, when are IBS symptoms doing anything other than acting up?) I mentioned how I took certain natural supplements to help with my chronic fatigue. Puzzled, she stopped taking notes and asked, “Have you been diagnosed with chronic fatigue?”
This surprised me since she knows I have endometriosis. My brain quickly shuffled through all my doctor’s visits and medical documents, searching for some sort of official proof that would confirm my chronic fatigue. Something that would prove I wasn’t the kind of person to self-diagnose after a glass of wine and 30 minutes on Google. I replied with a not-very-confident, “Well, I have endometriosis and chronic fatigue is one of its main symptoms.” She nodded, yet didn’t write anything down.
I became very annoyed with myself. The exchange with the nutritionist had made me doubt everything I knew about my disease. To me, chronic fatigue is something very real. I experience it almost daily; its symptoms are physical and severely life-altering. It hits me when I have a fun day ahead or when I am ready to do some exercise with my trainers on. It happens when I have all the motivation in the world to do my job. It’s more than feeling tired. It’s not lack of motivation or depression. It kicks me in the butt in the happiest of times.
So, what does chronic fatigue feel like?
Sometimes, chronic fatigue feels like being covered in tar from head to toe. Limbs are heavy and there is a weight that is impossible to shift, even when doing the most menial of activities.
It may feel as if someone is stabbing my legs with a small knife. Or, it can be a strange numbing sensation, like my leg is about to crack open.
Most days it feels like staring at the sun or walking out into bright daylight, except this happens while indoors. I can spend the day unable to open my eyes completely.
Occasionally, it’s close to that sweet spot between being drunk and hungover, except no cocktail happy hour preceded it.
On most days, it’s like climbing up a steep hill carrying a baby elephant. I could go on …
Most doctors seem to overlook fatigue when treating women with endometriosis. As a patient, all I can do is stop fighting the fatigue and lie down, yet my body refuses to recharge, no matter how much I sleep. What I could really do with is a solution or a line of treatment. Maybe just some advice on what steps I can take to carry on with my life. Last week, I lost three days of work because I could barely do anything other than remain horizontal and close my eyes.
Chronic fatigue is life-altering and needs specific attention. Having a health professional perform a subtle — yet quite noticeable — eye roll or barely acknowledge us when we mention this very real symptom should be a thing of the past.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.