How I Manage Through A Heavy Psoriatic Arthritis Fatigue Flare
When people think of arthritis, they picture a certain generation of people in pain with stiff joints. At least, that is what came to my mind before being I myself was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). But like many others, I quickly learned that there was so much more to this awful disease.
We can dive into all the additional symptoms and their impact but today, I want to talk specifically about fatigue. If I'm being honest with myself, fatigue from PsA can at times be more debilitating than the pain I experience.
Fatigued by fatigue? Let's talk about it.
It’s like a thick fog that takes over my mind and body. I can point out all the areas that psoriatic arthritis has affected my joints, but not fatigue. Heavy fatigue flares make it difficult to move my body. When the fog takes over my head, I struggle to find my words and thoughts.
Since my diagnosis in 2003, I have been modifying my life. I use mobility aids to keep moving when my body cannot keep up. My home is filled with adaptive products to help me remain as independent as possible. Fatigue flares, well, they hit a bit different.
Life between flares is spent preparing for the next flare.
When asked how I manage heavy PsA fatigue flares, people are really asking how they can function the way they want during one. And the truth is there is no answer. I do not function while under the spell of a severe fatigue flare. My mind and body are held hostage until the fog lifts.
With that said, it is how I manage my psoriatic arthritis life before and after a fatigue flare that makes getting through them less frustrating.
Food prep, budgeting and a back-up schedule
While managing day-to-day life with pain, I plan easy prep meals that my family can prepare, budget for takeout, and fill the pantry with grab-and-go food. I also keep a stash of clean pajamas reserved for severe flare days. This way, I have something clean to wear until I am strong enough to do laundry.
To keep the rest of my family on schedule, I make backup plans for those who typically rely on me for transportation. I keep a list of people willing to help out and budget for rideshares when necessary.
Autopay, deadlines and relying on robots
Bills are on autopay, so I don’t have to worry about missing any payments. As a freelancer, I take little time off for personal desires to make sure that I make all of my deadlines on time.
My husband has automated our home, so neither of us has to think about turning on the hot tub heater, adjusting the temperature in the house, or setting the alarm at bedtime. Our robot vacuum is programmed to clean while we sleep. If only we could find a robot that dusts!
What to do when the fatigue finally subsides?
The first act after a fatigue flare is to thank everyone who helped while I was down. Next up is catching up on what I couldn’t do while flaring, like reading and responding to social media comments and emails. With no break, I am back in pre-flare planning and managing mode.
Thinking I can manage my life like I always do when hit with a heavy fatigue flare is like waiting for a unicorn to appear at my front door. It will never happen. I’ve had raccoons and opossum show up, but never a unicorn! Heavy fatigue cannot be fought; it wins every time.
What are some ways you manage your chronic life that make fatigue flares less frustrating?
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