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Fatigue: One of the Worst Parts of Crohn’s Disease

You know that feeling when you physically cannot keep your eyes open? Like when you are sitting on the couch at night watching TV and it takes every effort to not shut your eyes and fall asleep during a commercial, so you just take yourself to bed rather than fight the fatigue? That’s living with Crohn’s Disease…all. the. time. Whether it be 9am, 1pm, or 11pm, fatigue hits us like a truck and there is no amount of coffee, fresh air, or stretching that can fight this beast.

The misery of Crohn’s fatigue during work

When I was working my corporate job, this is was a major obstacle in maintaining my productivity thought the day. I remember sitting at my desk, looking at the computer screen, physically holding my eyelids open for fear that even blinking would send me to La La Land. I would take walks around the office to get water in the break room or take a walk outside just to get fresh air, but neither of those tactics helped fight the level of fatigue that was upon me.

Fortunately, I lived close to my office so many of my lunch hours were spent drinking a smoothie in 15 minutes and then taking a quick nap for 45 minutes before returning to the office. And, in dire situations, I would “run an errand” for a half-hour just to go home and get a quick 30-minute snooze in so that I could get through my afternoon meetings. It was miserable.

Others don’t understand the constant fatigue that comes with Crohn’s

And, the worst part of feeling constantly fatigued is that I felt guilty when saying it to others, and truthfully, they just didn’t understand the level of exhaustion I was experiencing. I also felt like it showed weakness. How many times do people say “I am so tired!” because of working a night shift or taking care of a newborn? I felt like saying, “I am so tired”, showed weakness especially when I did not keep late hours or have a physically demanding job. But, this level of exhaustion was on a whole other level that most cannot comprehend.

Crohn’s fatigue is extreme, crippling, and frustrating

I had to come to the realization that despite others thinking “being tired” was common among most people on most days, my fatigue was extreme and due to my chronic illness, so I could not be shy when limiting my daily activities because I had zero energy and I was no longer afraid to let others know about it. It’s crippling, frustrating, and a nuisance to our everyday lives. But, it is critical that we let others know how we are struggling, give our body rest when it requires it, and do whatever we can to make sure our bodies in are their best shape to stay healthy otherwise while we battle this disease and all of the side effects that come with it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Davethegardner
    2 months ago

    Having been diagnosed while I was in college in the mid-1960s (when Crohn’s was called “ileitis” or maybe “regional enteritis”), I was perpetually fatigued and have fought that issue on-again off-again ever since. I’m sure part of the problem was having to get up to use the bathroom 2-4 times in the night and then not sleeping well because my gut hurt. My last job for almost 11 years before retiring required lots of travel, mostly around the state of Minnesota. Before taking that job, I promised my family that I would not drive sleepy, which meant I got quite familiar with the better rest areas where I could catch a nap. Ultimately, I had to go on long-term disability about 6 years before I was ready to retire because I couldn’t push through the fatigue any more. Now that I’m on HPN after 11 surgeries, I still don’t sleep well but at least I can take an afternoon nap and not worry about getting fired!

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator author
    2 months ago

    That is quite the journey, Dave! I am glad to hear that you can finally take naps during the day without worry about work 🙂 You surely deserve it!
    Stay well.

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • 2 months ago

    This article is so much on the nose. I feel like a broken record lately when people ask how do you feel today. I have started just saying fine and changing the subject. Lately the fatigue is almost the worst part of the disease.

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback, and I am glad to hear it resonated with you, however so sorry you are also dealing with the crippling fatigue!

    You are right in that you just feel like a broken record by saying “I’m so tired” all the time but it really is the truth! Hang in there and I hope you feel better soon!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    Amen and amen. Fatigue is so so real.

    When I worked my full-time design job, I would do that same as you! I would grab a quick smoothie for lunch and go to an area I found near my office that had a delicious couch that was super secluded and I would nap! I would just zonk out. And the worst is that it is so hard to get yourself up after snoozing a bit. But those little naps would save me!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator author
    2 months ago

    I am glad I am not alone on that one! And yes, sometimes I really had to decide which was worse, not napping or napping and then trying to wake up which was often difficult. I’m glad we are both out of those times 🙂

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    Amen to that!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • crystal.harper moderator
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this side of Crohn’s, Julie! That’s great that you were able to run home in emergencies and take a quick nap. I agree that it seems like everyone just talks about how tired they are and I’m guilty of doing the same, but there certainly is a difference between being tired and full on fatigue. Neither is fun, but only one comes with a quick solution. If you have any other tips on how you dealt with the fatigue while working in a corporate setting, I think it would be really helpful and I’d love to read some more about how you managed it! Thanks for sharing! Best, Crystal

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thank you so much, Crystal! I appreciate your kind words and would love to do a follow up article about more tips of dealing with fatigue in the corporate setting.

    –Julie (Team Member)

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