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Fatigue is slowly killing me!

How long has the fatigue been plaguing you? I had fatigue that affected me in a similar way for about 5 months last year, with a similarly demanding job. It turned out to be due to a relapse that had few other symptoms, and I feel loads better now and back in good form work-wise - so if it is a recent problem please consider that possibility!

But if you’ve ruled that out and it’s definitely permanent - please give serious thought to the part time option. You say you don’t particularly want to cut your hours down but you may need to think seriously about your reasons and priorities.

Personally, I work 80% hours as I have just kept to the hours I had when my daughter was small. My original long term plan was to return full time when she got to about the age she is now but I have decided against that since being diagnosed with MS. I could afford to stay part time and that was the best option for me, a really positive choice. If you can afford to reduce your hours then it’s a good option and has been a good experience for me. If you are good enough at your job (sounds like you are!) then you will still be valued by your employer and colleagues after going part time.

Hope you find a solution x

Hi Angela, thanks for your reply. It helped.

I’ve suffered fatigue on/off for years.However, this current state of going almost light-headed with brain fatigue has only happened with intensity this year.

I seem to get new symptoms all the time, but they never fit the criteria for a relapse in that they don’t last long. E.g. this year my right face went numb, which hasn’t happened before, but that lasted half an hour only. I get pain in my right arm on/off now (the same MS pain as I always have in my left arm since my relapse in 2015), but the pain is never more than 24 hrs. This year I have started to have lower face ache/heaviness and neck spasms, but on/off.

I have had some constant new symptoms, e.g. heavy/stiff left thigh which is new and lasted for a month. On that basis my neuro sent me for a brain and spine MRI which I did on Sunday. I guess if the MRI shows any developments then the neuro will review things. I can’t say that any of the above point to a relapse, and I actually didn’t think fatigue counted as a relapse, so it’s interesting to hear your case. I will definitely ask my neuro if I may have had some kind of relapse this year.

I could cut my hours down, but I am concerned about money and the future. I am paying off two credit cards, plus I am worried about a reduction in hours affecting my pension. I pay into my work pension scheme, but this I think this will be affected if I reduce my hours. Fortunately I am OK money-wise (aside from the credit cards. But they are manageable), but at 39 years old, I have a long time till any kind of retirement, be it normal retirement age or early retirement on grounds of ill-health.

I don’t know what any future governments will do regarding helping people who can’t work full time. I know that benefits are being cut all the time. I just think that if I can work full time for as long as possible, then I should. I know that health is important, but if I can just manage the fatigue then I’d happily work full time.

I just wrote a long reply but the gremlins ate it!

The gist was

  • Don’t rule out that the fatigue could be short term, some relapses are only visible on an MRI because the bit of the brain they attack doesn’t do much. So consult with your neuro before making any long term decisions!

  • Consider asking your employer for a temporary reduction in hours for a trial period, to see if your fatigue improves and also to see how you might cope part-time. Consider whether there is anything else your employer can help with e.g. can your job be done partly from home?

  • Pay off those credit cards as soon as possible. CAB may be able to help you get a sustainable repayment plan if you do have to cut your hours

  • If you reduce your hours, your pension will be reduced accordingly (I get 80% pension rights to go with my 80% salary). But if this isn’t enough, then once your credit cards are paid off, you could always try to save separately either into a separate pension or into an ISA which is more accessible in case you need the money before age 55

  • You are understandable keen to plan for the future - but driving yourself into the ground may be counterproductive - could hasten MS progression for a start! And remember that while tomorrow is uncertain, today is not, so don’t let contingency plans for the future ruin your present.

All the best xx

I turned 40 this month!