I have been exhausted for a while. Really, really exhausted.
I thought at first I wasn’t getting enough sleep, so I started to go to bed earlier. And then earlier still. I gave up trying to work out in the morning in lieu of sleeping an extra half hour. I started laying down to rest for an hour or two in the afternoon a couple days a week. Then I found I couldn’t go without a rest in the afternoon and sometimes in the morning. I was sleeping from 9:00 at night until 6:30 in the morning, plus napping, and still I was exhausted.
There was also the weakness. I have a hard time carrying Penny, 28 pounds, much anymore. I never had an issue with the other two at that weight. And I have a hard time opening sippy cups and jars. There was the breathlessness too. After seemingly simple tasks, like walking up 10 steps or blow drying my hair, I’d be out of breath and worn out.
I was thinking I just couldn’t handle three young children. That they were too much for me by myself. That I didn’t have what it takes to mother three girls. I was thinking the meningitis I had this summer had worn me down and I had never fully recovered.
I had been anemic during my pregnancy with Ella, but this felt different. I’ve also gained weight, so I thought maybe I was hypothyroid. Even though I’ve been checked twice during the last two years, it does run in my family.
As is usual, I put off making a doctor’s appointment. It seemed I always had something better or more important to do. Run the kids to school, volunteer at school, go grocery shopping, whatever, everything was more of a priority than getting myself to the doctor. That’s how mommy guilt works, right? Making time for ourselves isn’t something we do.
Finally, 2 weeks ago, I went to the doctor. She agreed, I’m classic hypothyroid. So she ran the tests, plus some others, just in case.
Well, I’m not hypothyroid. I do have a positive ANA which means I have some sort of autoimmune disease, like lupus, fibromyalgia, or rheumatoid arthritis. I have an appointment with a rheumatologist today (my lovely internist got me an earlier appointment so I didn’t have to wait 6 weeks), to get more tests to try to figure out what it is.
While I’m not looking forward to the prospect of having a chronic disease to deal with, it’s also a relief. Now the exhaustion makes sense. When I feel like I have the flu at the end of the day and my whole body hurts, it’s not because my kids have kicked my butt that day, it’s part of the autoimmune disease. The constant throbbing in my hands, not because I’m lifting and lugging and carrying and getting old, but because of the disease.
It’s freeing really. I’m giving myself permission to rest. Permission to not empty the dishwasher or vacuum. My body is telling me to take it easy, to take better care of myself, and finally, I’m listening.