Fatigue makes it difficult to push on

I love writing. No surprise there, it has after all been a major part of my life. But, today, it’s not so easy because I have been hit by a bout of fatigue.

Fatigue is just one possible aspect of multiple sclerosis – but there are plenty of other causes too.

And for anyone fortunate enough not to be affected by fatigue, please don’t tell us to get a good night’s sleep. Be assured, that is not enough.

So, what is fatigue?

The medical information website healthline.com says:

Fatigue is a term used to describe an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It isn’t the same as simply feeling drowsy or sleepy. When you’re fatigued, you have no motivation and no energy. Being sleepy may be a symptom of fatigue, but it’s not the same thing.

Fatigue is a common symptom of many medical conditions, which range in severity from mild to serious. It’s also a natural result of some lifestyle choices, such as lack of exercise or poor diet.

If your fatigue doesn’t resolve with proper rest and nutrition, or you suspect it’s caused by an underlying physical or mental health condition, see your doctor. They can help diagnose the cause of your fatigue and work with you to treat it.

Why do we get fatigue?

Causes of fatigue can be described, in general terms, as your lifestyle, and your physical or mental health.

Healthline lists lifestyle factors as physical exertion, lack of physical activity, lack of sleep, being overweight or obese, periods of emotional stress, boredom, grief, taking certain medications such as antidepressants or sedatives, using alcohol on a regular basis, using street drugs such as cocaine, consuming too much caffeine, and not eating a nutritious diet.

We know that those of us with MS can get fatigue but there are other physical conditions that can also cause it. Healthline says these include, anemia, arthritis, bromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, infections such as cold and flu, Addison’s disease – a disorder that can affect your hormone levels, hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid, sleep disorders such as insomnia, autoimmune disorders including MS, congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.

As for mental health conditions, fatigue is a symptom of anxiety, depression, and seasonal affective disorder.

In my case, I’ll blame the MS but today the level of fatigue has been made worse by trying to do too much, too quickly.  Right now, I feel totally worn out and am having trouble keeping my eyes open.


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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

Excuse me, which charity does your ribbon represent?

There are only a limited number of colours, and combinations of them, but there are many health and disability causes. That’s the reason why, for each color, there are a number of charities that use it for their publicity and fundraising activities.

Just take the orange ribbon as an example. We know that it is the colour adopted for multiple sclerosis in many countries. Additionally, orange is also used by these causes:

Confusing, isn’t it? Including MS, that’s 14 separate causes to have chosen the orange as the colour of their official ribbon.

Colours started with red

It started more than 25 years ago. The red awareness ribbon for HIV/AIDS was launched by the AIDS Ribbon Project at the 45th Annual Tony Awards ceremony on June 2, 1991.

Yes, the red ribbon was, apparently, the first ever ribbon symbol. And that led to all the rest, including the orange ribbon for MS and the renowned pink one for breast cancer awareness.

Mind you, there s nothing new about wearing coloured symbols. For example, each political party has its own colour. Parties use their colours for promotional material and election rosettes worn by party workers. What’s more, William Shakespeare wrote about coloured symbols that people wore.

In the famous English playwright’s classic Othello (Act iv, scene 3), Desdemona refer to an early version of the song “All round my hat, I wears a green willow”. The lyrics say: “If anyone should ask, the reason why I wears it, tell them that my true love is far, far away”.

Today, we have so many charities, and other causes, all trying to raise money and awareness. And there are too few colours to go round.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

Why me? Maybe I have my answer

IMG_0796_cropped  ms montage

Most people being forced to live with an illness such as multiple sclerosis are bound to ask in those blackest of moments ‘why me?’ Despite my positive outlook on life, I certainly did a few years ago when I had several falls in one day.

I can still recall that awful day when, having taken yet another tumble, I swore out loud about ‘this ******* MS’ and, in pure frustration, hammered the floor with my good hand as I cried out ‘why me?’

Ok, so those dark emotional days are well behind me now, I have grown used to living with my MS. Looking back is something I do with pleasure, remembering the good times and my successes while forgetting the rest. Looking forward is full of anticipation and hope, while the present is for living every moment to the fullest that can be managed.

Now, the question ‘why me?’ is no longer asked. MS is an uninvited guest that is not going away. But I am still interested in how it got in. In other words, what caused it in me.

No single cause of MS has yet been identified but various sources reveal that scientists believe that the likelihood of contracting the illness is linked to four factors. These are: Immunologic, Genetic, Environmental and Infections.

Immunologic; It is well established that in MS the immune system malfunctions and attacks the central nervous system. Researchers know that the myelin sheath is directly affected, but they don’t know what triggers the immune system to attack the myelin.

Genetic: Several genes are believed to play a role in MS. The chance of developing MS is slightly higher if a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, has the disease. According to the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF), if one parent has MS, the risk of their children getting the disease is estimated to be between two and five percent. Scientists believe that some people are born with a genetic susceptibility to react to certain, but as yet unknown, environmental agents. Maybe an autoimmune response is triggered when they encounter these agents.

Environmental: It is now well-known that MS is more predominant in countries that are further away from the equator and this has indicated that a lack of vitamin D may play a role. Vitamin D does benefit the function of the immune system. People who live near the equator are exposed to more sunlight. The more sunlight that skin receives, the more the body naturally produces the vitamin.

Infections: Researchers are considering the possibility that viruses and bacteria may cause MS. Viruses are known to cause inflammation and a breakdown of myelin (called demyelination). Therefore, it’s possible that a virus could trigger MS. Several viruses and bacteria are being investigated to determine if they’re involved. These include: measles, human herpes virus-6 and Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever.

Ok, so how does all that affect me? I have no idea about the immunology but there was no-one in my family with MS, so a genetic cause can be discounted.

Of course, environmental factors could well play a part as from birth until my 63rd birthday I lived in the UK, first in the south-east and, for the last 23 years, further north in North Wales. The lack of sunlight in the UK, especially the further north you go, comes as no surprise, but University of Oxford researchers used NASA satellite data to quantify the decreasing levels of UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun as you move north. Less UV means less vitamin D produced in the body. There are also concerns that worries about skin cancer mean people can cover up too much. New official advice stresses the need to strike a balance between healthy sun exposure and skin cancer risks.

I have already said, in a previous blog post https://50shadesofsun.com/?m=201508&paged=2, the poor British weather with almost constant grey skies, rain and strong winds – plus my desire to increase my vitamin D level – was the prime reason behind our move to Spain.

Finally, and for me the most telling factor, is infection. Of the infection listed as possible causes of MS, one was the Epstein-Barr virus that causes glandular fever and this I had in or about 1974. That year I was approaching my 22nd birthday.

When I was finally diagnosed with MS, 27 years later, the consultant neurologist told me that he had gone back through my medical records and found evidence of MS as far back as my mid-20s.

Hmm, glandular fever at 21, almost 22, and evidence of MS mid-20s. A clinical link may not be scientifically proven but, if you were me, would you need any further proof? I most certainly don’t!


Online petitions, money and punishment lashes

change petition

Online petition sites, on which anyone can start their own appeal for support for a cause in which they are interested, seem to have taken off in the last couple of years.

But, be warned, once you sign one petition, you will get email after email from the sites aiming to get you to support more of them. Of course, you can stop these unwanted emails but many people will be reluctant to do so in case they miss a petition that they would really like to sign.

This first grabs hold of you after you accept an invitation to sign a petition for a cause that you feel is worthy of support. And that is where the problem lies with these sites.

For example, once you have signed a change.org petition online, it sends an email thanking you and suggesting other petitions you might like to support. However, often these petitions are for totally dissimilar causes.

That’s ridiculous. In this computer-led world, indeed you might even say computer-dominated, it should not be beyond the bounds of any online petition company to assess the causes you have supported in the past and only offer similar ones after that. Of course, that will be easier once someone has signed a few.

So, when faced with being asked to sign a petition for a cause that doesn’t interest you or with which you disagree, you just ignore it. Another site, care2.com acts in the same way and there are plenty of others. What’s more, emails offering updates on petitions already signed will almost always ask for monetary donations to further their causes.

Whether any petition, let alone an online one, has any real impact on the decisions of those in authority is a moot point when, in reality, decisions are based on a rage of factors not a petition. The wording of some petitions leaves a lot to be desired and on others the demands made on one person ignore what is already being done.

A petition recently online referred to the case of a 74-year-old British man lashes in saudiwho has been in prison in Saudi Arabia for a year and now faces 350 lashes that, it is feared, may kill him. The petition calls upon UK Prime Minister David Cameron to do something. The fact is, though, that his government is already doing all it can. A petition is just not needed and will not help the man avoid the lashes. Perhaps a petition to the King asking for clemency would have been more likely to help but, then again, probably not.

What was this man’s crime? He was arrested after homemade wine was found in his car, not a criminal offence in most countries but this is in Saudi Arabia which is a Muslim nation. A simple mistake, you might very well think, but he has lived there for 25 years, he must have known that he was breaking the country’s strict laws.

To be sentenced to so many lashes does seem an excessive punishment for anyone to endure but that is another matter entirely – and not the subject of this online petition.