After treatment started and I began to feel less fatigue it was still hard to keep ahead of it. My strategy was to spend one day a week in bed resting to recover my strength to get through the other six days.
As I adapted I changed my job and my life, my hobbies and my socializing.
Stuck in a groove. JapanPrint
Finally I settled into a groove - a livable one but not the ideal. I had enough energy to work full time. This was an accomplishment I was proud of but I had to go right home after work. Shopping stops or doing errands took too much energy so I did the least possible on weekday evenings. Weekends were for resting and possibly groceries and visiting elderly relatives.
When I got home from work I would often lie down so I could get through the evening. The image in my mind as I lay there without energy to even listen to music was of a doll lying in a dollhouse waiting for life to happen. It was profoundly unsatisfying.
It takes energy to think and to plan ahead. If you don't have that you don't make the right choices, or any choices. I did start to exercise on the advice of my helpful physiotherapist and found that I could do muscle tightening exercise with no ill effects. But when I did the clamshell exercise with a Theraband 5 to 10 times I found that my hips felt like spaghetti for 2 full days afterwords and made me weaker.
It was at this point that I noticed in my reading the claims that biologic drugs improve the quality of life and sense of well being in RA. Because of this statement I worked on convincing my rheumatologist to prescribe a biologic for me.
Of course this was not the only reason I wanted to add a biologic. I wrote here about how shocked I was to find that joint damage still continued with methotrexate, even when other symptoms decreased, and I couldn't and still can't afford to have any more damage.
After four years on the biologic drug Humira I now have enough energy to exercise and not be exhausted for the two days following. It also means I can do errands even after working all day. Small gains in a sense but they matter a lot.
Here's an interesting look at the way inflammation and prolonged response to it can affect the body. In Consequences of the Inflamed Brain Dr Maier and Dr Watkins say "mechanisms that evolved to handle acute emergencies lead to outcomes that nature did not intend if they are engaged too long ...
outcomes may become established, leading to cognitive impairment instead of brief memory disruption, depression instead of reduced mood, fatigue instead of inactivity, and chronic pain instead of acute pain. That is, physiology can become pathology when a set of processes designed to be relatively brief becomes prolonged." go on to conclude that inflammatory events can lead to this process which includes fatigue.
I also believe that pain takes a lot of energy to deal with.
Fatigue can be affected by our mindset and we can improve it somewhat by cognitive therapy but I strongly believe there is a large physical connection between RA and fatigue. Having a positive mindset did not affect my ability to exercise and be more active. Taking a more effective drug combination helped my fatigue both now and at the onset.
I believe that other factors have a part to play but that the fatigue is caused by RA and that changing my attitude will only work if I am receiving the best treatment for the physical disease.