In a departmental meeting last week a look around the room brought on a revelation: I was the only one present who was propping his head up with his hand. I realized that I do this all the time and yet I rarely see anyone else doing it. Why is this? Isn’t anyone as tired all the time as I am?
When I was younger I always knew that age would bring with it its own aches and pains. I just didn’t realize they would hit me all at once! The past two years have seen my energy drain more rapidly than I expected or, frankly, consider normal. It’s astonishing and frightening at the same time.
I am in need of naps far more frequently than I used to be. I have challenges putting faces to names out of context. I often wake up tired from the get-go. I’ve found myself more reluctant to join in conversation. I frequently pay an unexpected price for physical efforts. Everything seems so much goddamn harder now.
I am concerned that my declining health is jeopardizing my life goals.
Yesterday morning, I joined Kelly and Hallie for a bike ride. It was about 80 degrees, breezy and overcast – perfect riding weather – and we rode a milk-run route to Lassiter Mill dam and back, less than 10 miles. I felt great at the time. Then I rushed into the house to shower and get ready for a Democratic Party meeting, where I sat for nearly four hours listening to one speaker after another. By the time we were leaving for that evening’s play (“Almost, Maine” at Raleigh Little Theatre) it was all I could do to drag myself out of the recliner and get in the car. I spent the play trying my damnedest to keep my eyes open and my head from flopping over. Somehow I managed but if someone had rolled a cot out to me I would’ve been asleep on it in 30 seconds, play or no play.
I can’t understand why a bike ride that wouldn’t even get me to break a sweat would seemingly take so much out of me. Or a meeting, for that matter. I don’t have a good answer to why I was so wiped and this is deeply troubling to me.
In stark contrast to the extreme fatigue I am feeling, my vital signs are quite good. My blood pressure is better than it’s been in years, my cholesterol is nearly normal, and nearly all of my chemical measures are good. I’m at a good weight and I’m slowly whittling down my waist to a healthier shape. I walk to and from work on a regular basis and I use a standing desk while I’m there. While it’s good to have good vital signs, it’s a bit maddening when I try to explain to doctors how fatigued I’m feeling. They look at the chart and see a lot to be happy about.
And I’m thankful that all the usual health bugaboos seem to be held at bay at the moment. I just need to figure out what different bugaboo I’m dealing with so I can get some energy back. Whatever it is it’s not fun.