Hacks for Having a Better Day with Chronic Fatigue
This post is for both those living with Chronic Illness and for their caretakers. I do have to divulge though that I am not an expert on the best ways to live with Chronic Fatigue; I am just a girl living with several Chronic Illnesses trying to thrive.
In case you are interested in my health credentials before we get started, I have been diagnosed with Dysautonomia/ POTS, Periodic Paralysis, Chronic Fatigue, Meniere’s Disease, Arthritis, Madelungs Deformity in both wrists, Asthma, GERD, and a spunky attitude to survive all of this mess.
Let’s do this!
Hacks for Having a Better Day with Chronic Fatigue
It kind of all stems down to the idea of being prepared. I absolutely know that this isn’t always possible, and that’s okay, but when you are able to plan ahead DO IT. It is the simple things that will make a difference.
1. Have Outfit Options Ready to go:
I always have two or three outfits waiting for me in my closet. When I was working and going to school, I would have up to five outfits ready at a time.
There should always be: a casual or comfy day outfit, (if working) a business outfit, and an outfit to fit your needs on a bad day. (Ex. I would always have a bloated outfit to hide my stomach issues).
Why so many outfits? Sometimes a bad day can turn into a series of bad days. When you’re standing at your closet trying to stay focused on finding an outfit to wear, you can simply grab one from the options waiting for you! Save your time and strength for something more important.
2. Have a Snack and Water by your Bedside in the Morning:
This is great for someone who simply needs a boost in the morning, but for someone with severe symptoms of fatigue this is a game changer.
As someone with an unpredictable condition like Periodic Paralysis, I never know if I will be able to move in the morning. There are some days in which I am perfectly fine to get out of bed, some days when I am just physically exhausted and struggle to get out of bed, some days when I am paralyzed from the waist down, and other days when I can’t move at all. At All.
For days when I wake up and am too weak to get out of bed, a snack on my nightstand is golden. Having a snack and water waiting in reach means that I am able to take my morning medication. I don’t have to waist precious energy going to the kitchen to get something in my stomach first thing in the morning (I can’t take my medication without food).
*This is also wonderful to have because on days when I need help from a caretaker, I have to wait in bed until that person is able to come and give aid. I can eat and take my medication sooner than I would be able to with food nearby than I would if I had to wait for help to arrive to gather food for me.
It could be as simple as a granola bar, frozen PB&J, or veggie straws. Just be sure to choose something that you can get together the night before and will still be safe to eat the next morning. Do NOT choose food items that need to be temperature controlled (like dairy). The last thing you need when you are already struggling is the stomach flu. No thank you.
3. Always Have Your Medication Within Reach:
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Have your pills together and with you ALWAYS.
I suggest using a daily pill pack system. I use a Pill Tower like this one:
It allows me to take out my daily pills and have them all sorted and ready to go. There are divisions for morning, lunch, dinner, and night time pills. I love this system.
I do my pills every THREE WEEKS! I do this for a few reasons:
- I hate doing my pills so not having to do them once a week is always great.
- I will have pills ready (almost) all of the time, in fatigued brain fog sickness and in health.
- Knowing that I need to order my pills three weeks in advance allows me plenty of time to stock up.
- I don’t have to rely on a caregiver to gather my pills (possibly risking improper doses)
- Side note: always have a list of your medications with you.
4. Simply Write Things Down:
Often Chronic Fatigue comes with Brain Fog. Brain Fog in its medical definition, can be just as debilitating as the fatigue. How many times have you had some energy to get things done and then can’t remember what those things are? How many times have gone to the kitchen to get a mop while cleaning your house, only to stand by the fridge wondering why you came to the kitchen for a snack when you’re not even hungry? Just me?…
Write it down. I make lists of my lists. I’m not ashamed to leave sticky notes around the house with random reminders on them. I have pads of sticky notes all over the place, and that’s OKAY. Write it down!
Get a calendar and write down events, doctors’ appointments, trash/ recycling day schedules, everything and anything you may forget. Get a calendar and write it all down!
Get one of those super cute fancy planners with stickers, embellishments, and a carrying case and use it to write stuff down!
Set reminders on your phone. Buzz time to take my meds. Buzz second reminder, did I actually take those meds? Buzz am I sure I took my meds? Buzz clean out the litter boxes. Buzz doctor appointment coming up on Friday. Thank you Siri! Pick up your phone and set those reminders. You can set a reminder for next year! Write it down!
Get a grocery store app on your phone and add items to your grocery list right when you think of it. You have your phone in your back pocket anyways. Get that app and write (type) it down!
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Medical Equipment:
A Shower Chair.
Think of it like transforming your shower from a boring stand-up experience to a relaxing spa where you can sit down. Don’t waste your precious energy standing in a shower. It’s okay to sit.
A Grabber Pick Up Tool.
A grabber allows you to pick up something from the floor without bending over, or reach for something high without straining yourself. It will save you precious energy. I use my grabber when cleaning the house to pick up cat toys so I can run the vacuum (I have a robot vacuum: also worth the investment). My grabber also helps me to access high items when I’m in my wheelchair. It is something so simple, and yet saves so much energy!
A Robot Vacuum.
Seriously a cleaning life changer. Clean house = less stress, must I say more?
Using a walker with a seat is useful as a supportive tool to keep you up and steady or as a seat to rest when you need it.
After I was able to get over my pride to use a wheelchair, life has been so much richer. Now, I actually have a few wheelchairs. Below are kind of some pros and cons to think about when trying to decide which chair may be best for you. These are all strictly based on my opinion from personal experience.
A Large Wheel Wheelchair:
- Is great because you are able to push yourself
- Is convenient to store in your home because it folds up
- In my experience, does not easily push through high carpet
- Is heavy to place in a car for travel
- Is better than a small wheeler for going over grass/ mud
- Can tend to be a tight squeeze for some framed doors
- Can use up a lot of energy and strength to push yourself
- Is cheaper than electric
A Small Wheel Wheelchair:
- Is really only useful if you have someone to push you
- Is usually lightweight and easy to load into a car for traveling
- Is more convenient for storage than a large wheeler (folds smaller)
- Is a bit narrower than a large wheeler, making it easier to get through doorways
- Does NOT do well in grass/ mud
- Is usually the cheapest option between the three
An Electric (Battery Powered) Wheelchair:
- Is my personal favorite
- Is the best (depending on the model) for mud, grass, gravel, and high carpet
- Does have to be charged in an electrical outlet
- Is usually extremely heavy and bulky for travel
- Usually has to be placed in the back of a truck or on specialty transport attachment that needs to be bought separately and attached to your car
- Is the most expensive option
- Is, in my opinion, the most comfortable to sit in (padded seat)
- Will take the least amount of energy for you to push around
- Takes up a lot of space for storage in your home
- Fight that Brain Fog by Writing Things Down.
More than anything, know that it is okay to seek help, take breaks, and take care of yourself first. Chronic Fatigue is real and there is no shame in it.
P.S. This is Princess, she’s 13. She is always here for me and ready for a nap whenever I am couch bound. In this photo she wasn’t feeling well. She is fine, but just looked so fatigued. It seemed like the perfect photo to end this.