I don’t understand. I’m out of commission. Again. And to say I’m frustrated is a gross understatement. This fatigue is crushing me into dust.

I feel defeated. Worthless. Useless. But most of all, I feel angry.

Hiding the fatigueYesterday was my first day back at work after four and a half months on medical leave. During that time, I had pelvic surgery and brain surgery. My body wasn’t the same as it was before all this started. Unfortunately, I was about to find that out the hard way.

The day started out all right, although it took me a long time to get ready due to fatigue. I was still filled with apprehension as I got ready. I put on a new dress I’ve been dying to wear since I bought it at the start of summer. Dresses with leggings and boots are favorite outfits of mine. So comfortable. I carefully did my hair and put on full make-up for the first time since probably April or May. David bought me red roses and washed my car to do everything he could to make my first day back as pleasant as possible. Such a sweet hubby!?

As I drove the 35 minutes into work, I sipped a Diet Pepsi and listened to my Rend Collective playlist (my favorite band.) Detour through the hood aside due to construction, it was a pleasant drive. I even managed to get an excellent spot in the parking garage. Everything seemed to be going great so far. But I was so nervous about going in, I sat in my car until the last minute, trying to calm myself down.

I was greeted with a chorus of “welcome back” as soon as I walked into the satellite. I was happy to see my coworkers and they were happy to see me. And I was thrilled that I was working my shift with two of our best and most skilled technicians. I dove right in to checking fluid bags, because that’s just what I do. I hate idling when there’s work to be done. Once a computer opened up, I logged in (got my password right on the second try!) and got to work. I was pleased to see that only one patient still remained admitted from before I went on leave.

As time went on, the pace of work gradually picked up and a deeper fatigue started to set in. Thankfully, not too many IVs to check, but plenty of other orders from admissions. Gradually, as other pharmacists went home as their shifts ended, the pace picked up even more. I was constantly running around, checking IVs in one room, oral medications in another room, answering the phone, and verifying medication orders. No chance for a dinner break (as is always the case, though, so it’s not like that was unexpected.) My delivery tech didn’t even get a moment to sit down at all. Even our PICU pharmacist stayed late to help catch up with things. By the time our night shift pharmacist arrived at 9 pm, I was completely beat.

When I finally left the hospital, I was so beset by fatigue I was barely able to make it to my car, even though it’s less than a 1/4 mile walk. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted that I didn’t even have the energy to speak until I had been home for an hour. I went to bed on the earlier side so I would have enough energy for today. And I did sleep well.

But it was not to be. I woke up and could barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. I could barely sit up. Since I could hardly pick up my feet to walk, I had to shuffle around. I walked with my head down because I didn’t have the energy to hold it up.

And then it hit me. I can’t do this. This isn’t the type of exhaustion you can power through, as if you didn’t get enough sleep and you’re tired. No, this is…I hardly know how to explain it. But whatever energy I had, I lost it in one shift. Granted, it was a busy shift, but second shift is always like that this time of year. And we do have some critically ill kids right now.

I had a sobbing, dry heaving meltdown. I called off my shift and then contacted my manager, who was thankfully understanding, as he has been throughout this whole fiasco of a year for me. I’m still waiting to confirm with my doctor, but as of now, I won’t be returning to work until at least December 5th, or perhaps not even until January 1st. As I told my manager, I probably could have gone back if I had a desk job. But I can’t yet go back to the high stress job I have. As Dr. Bain said last week, all of my body’s energy is going towards healing my brain and my skull and not much else, so this extreme, difficult to explain fatigue and exhaustion is actually to be expected and he said is very common in his patients for months and months after surgery.

I don’t even want to think about what my coworkers think of me now. It only makes this whole nightmare worse. But if the only friend I have left is my husband, I’ll live with it.

But for now…I’ve been bested by my body yet again.

PS- Go Tribe.


0 thoughts on “Relapse

  1. Wow! This must be so disappointing. My heart breaks for you and I’m so sorry you are going through this! On the bright side you did make it through one whole shift without getting so nauseous you had to go home, which wasn’t something you couldn’t do before surgery so at least there’s that…

  2. Laura, please don’t be too hard on yourself. As someone who lived through this situation I can tell you that you aren’t alone. Medical personnel seem to be the worst at judging co-workers illnesses and can be especially unforgiving when their coworker is chronically ill. I always felt that as a nurse calling in sick I needed to have at least 2 or 3 possible diagnoses in play so my co-workers would not shun me because someone had to do a double or cover a few shifts. I found out the extreme extent of my co-workers not even believing I was ill in my case when during a recurring admission I was told that my hospital records had been accessed by my co-workers. What a betrayal. I did have some friends though that were able to see past all that and a supportive psychotherapist that went to bat for me. My psychiatrist reminded me that after being so ill and confined to bed going back to work full time from that scenario was like never being a runner and just entering a marathon. You make small goals and do your best to achieve them. When you can achieve those you make slightly bigger ones and go from there. You walk before you can run. If your goal is to spend 1 hour sitting in a chair instead of lying in bed then that is where you start. You take care of you. Your family loves you and you start from there and of course as you know if we believe in the Lord we are never alone in anything. Robin

  3. Please don’t be hard on your self. As a fellow health worker I know what if is like. We care so much about how others’ feel and letting people down that we often it ourselves to the back burner. Well done on recognising your limitations and putting yourself first. I am returning to work tomorrow after a month off and am dreading how I am going to be able to cope. But I am going to do as best as I can, and not push myself if I can help it. Concentrate on healing and resting – sending you lots of healthy vibes. X

  4. oh no, that’s very disappointing. Sounds like your body was telling you that it wasn’t ready to go back to a stressful job like that. Try not to be too hard on yourself, take it easy and hopefully by December you will be feeling a lot better

  5. I’m sorry to hear this. I know you really wanted to get back into the swing of things and working again. It makes sense that you would still have extreme fatigue. My first day back to work after surgery involved crying, going home early, and crying some more – and that was for a desk job. I had weeks and now months before my energy started to approach normal. I fell asleep on the floor of my office one day. Exhausted is an understatement. You’ll heal up though and feel better!! Sending you some encouragement during this frustrating time!

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