This just came to me this morning while I was in the shower, where I do a lot of my deep thinking. I’m heading off for a few days of a mini family gathering, and I was thinking about how hard it is to explain the kind of fatigue that can set in, and persist, from extended socializing. I think this might be the best analogy I’ve come up with yet.
“I’m not being rude, I’m just full.”
MS fatigue is like overeating. Here’s the scenario. A bunch of friends go out to breakfast together. French toast, eggs, bacon, home fries, toast with jam, coffee, maybe scone or two. Yummy, and you’re feeling well fed. A little later, someone in the group suggests popping in to another restaurant for a little brunch. You’re having fun, and you love to eat, and this restaurant in well-known for its brunch menu, so you go along, and have another little meal that is tasty, and you’re having big fun. Noon rolls around, so of course it’s time for lunch. A big salad, a burger or a big fancy sandwich, fries or chips, or both, a beer. You’re starting to feel pretty full, but the gang is still rolling and having fun, so you roll along with them. You’ve had enough to eat, and you’re ready to be done. But you don’t want to break up the party and ask someone to give you a ride home.
Mid-afternoon, and there’s someone’s favorite ice cream shop. Everyone piles inside for shakes and mix-ins and sundaes. Oof. You are starting to feel stuffed and you’re fading. You’re slowing down, but everyone insists that you stay with them, and you’re still having fun, and who doesn’t love eating? Along the way to the dinner restaurant, everyone stops at The Best Pub for a few beers and those wonderful free appetizers. It’s hard to keep up, you’re starting to feel just a tiny bit ill. You opt for a seltzer and say no thanks to the appetizers, though everyone keeps offering them. Are we done yet? No – it’s dinner time! A cheese plate, a cocktail, a three course dinner with a lovely steak and a baked potato, or chicken breast with rice, or pasta Primavera, a few glasses of wine, dessert. You order a salad, pass on the bread sticks and dessert, stick yo seltzer. You are done, definitely feeling ill and really need to go. But, a night-cap! Another little cafe and a glass of Grand Marnier. You pass on beverages, even another glass of ice water is too much. The gang notices your lack of participation, and you get some concerned glances. Finally, someone suggests, bless them, that maybe it’s time to call it a night, which you’ve been hinting at since early evening. But wait! There’s a cool little club with a hot local jazz combo, so off the group goes. You would rather not. You feel like you’re going to be sick any minute. Another drink, another little snack, more fending off, but some wonderful music.
By the time the day and night wind down, and you are delivered to your bed, you feel beyond satisfied and definitely ready to throw up. You’ve way overeaten, your is head awash with one drink too many, and a whole day of great fun with a great bunch of friends. Finally in bed, you find it hard to wind down and sleep, with your belly full to bursting and your head full of conversation, jokes, and drink. But the Sandman arrives, and you manage a few hours. In the morning, you come to and find a hint of nausea and a still full belly. The gang is back, suggesting breakfast, but you simply cannot imagine it. So you play the role of party pooper, and send them off without you. They don’t understand, and wonder quietly what is wrong, why you don’t want to go have fun, and you cannot find the resources to explain. You spend the day by yourself, lying in bed, hoping your digestive system will do its job and that maybe by tonight you’ll feel a little more human.
Yeah, it’s kinda like that.