Deja vu? Maybe if my brain worked.
November 20, 2007 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with episodic exhaustion?

It is really starting to bother me - I've accomplished nothing in the last week and a half.
About 3 months ago I posted a question regarding something similar.
This time it's worse.
So, I've tried to approach this as methodically as I can. As far as I know, this is the third time (each this year) that this has occurred. What seems to happen is something triggers a week where I sleep most of the day, am a zombie when I'm not and suffer from a range of other things. Some of them are really random - like feeling full most of the time and then feeling hungry after I eat. I tend to eat less well and have a greatly reduced attention span during all this.

The first time it was likely stress induced, the second time is a mystery (I still really appreciate the help of the mefites that replied) and now I would think that there are some mental factors with finals in two weeks.
I now assume that this is not a coincidence, and that it is not something obvious, as both times I saw doctors I got no answers (the second doctor lost my blood test results [how do you just lose them?], so I'm not surprised).
Either way I was back to my normal self after about a week. Well, it has been a week and a half since this started, and things are only getting worse.

So does anyone else experience this or have any ideas?
Is it all in my head or is there something that I'm missing? I don't have the hallmarks of a bacterial or viral infection, or of being sick at all for that matter.
How I feel is pretty well explained in my previous post.

Normally I would just go see a doctor and wait it out, but unless I can pay attention to my notes for longer than a couple minutes every hour, I'm going to start failing classes.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's probably not - so don't be alarmed - but these kind of episodic periods of fatigue and/or brain fog are symptoms of MS (Multiple Sclerosis). Any good doctor seeing a pattern of "episodes" like you are describing will do some basic neurological testing and possibly order an MRI. Remember, many things can cause this, but the episodic nature will most likely lead your doctor to at least consider the possibility.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 3:12 PM on November 20, 2007

I know you said your brain is not at its best, but could you make a list of the "random things" for us? The range of other things might be helpful for others to identify if they've experienced something similar.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:13 PM on November 20, 2007

You need to find a tenacious and capable doctor. I'd be very wary of going to a psychiatrist or getting tagged with a psychiatric diagnosis. Once that happens you'll have a lot more trouble getting physicians to look for physical causes.

Consider keeping a medication, sleep and diet diary. IANAD, but I'd look at whether you are suffering from hypothyroidism, sleep apnea and/or hypoglycemia. I suspect you've got more than one thing going on though.

I'm diabetic, and I frequently get fatigue and brain fog. Glutamine seems to help a little bit with the symptoms, but controlling my blood sugar, diet and exercise helps with the underlying condition.

Are you a reasonably fit person? Do you sleep well or have apnea? Do people who sleep in the same room with you complain about snoring and interrupted breathing? What's your BMI, or waist to height ratio?
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:34 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

write down everything and give it to your doctor. and if you're still not improving in the next couple of days, make a sick appointment and see if someone can see you the same day. something's clearly wrong.

the symptoms sound like mononucleosis, but they shouldn't come and go like that, so it's probably something else. epstein-barr? go back to the doctor.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:40 PM on November 20, 2007

Response by poster: List of random things it is.

- Complete change in appetite from loving veggies, home cooked meals and needing to eat at specific times every day, to not caring about what I eat or when.
- Waking up more tired than I went to bed.
- Headaches that can't be dealt with either through Advil or drinking water (this had always worked for me).
- Feeling full before a meal, eating because I know I have to and then feeling really hungry afterwards.
- Lack of short term memory, and times when I can't remember routine things (such as trying to lock a door that has always had a broken lock).
- Complete uninterest in the GF...
- Significantly slower metabolism (I've gained about a couple pounds in the last week).
- A general shift in my interests (I'm working on some stuff that all of the sudden don't care about finishing).
- My alcohol tolerance went from relativity high to low.
posted by Ctrl_Alt_ep at 3:42 PM on November 20, 2007

Diabetes? Thyroid disorder? Depression? Thyroid disorders are often confused with depression because the symptoms can be similar. I think you need to get some bloodwork done. I have a thyroid disorder and before it was finally diagnosed, I went though lots of periods of feeling vague and worn out. If I exercised I was spent for the rest of the day. I couldn't remember anything. It is amazing what a difference getting the replacement hormone has made in my quality of life. You have to be insistent if you turn out to be a borderline case since many doctors will say you are only a little out of bounds so how could it really impact you? It does. It is a condition more common in women than men, but if you are male, have your blood checked anyway.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:12 PM on November 20, 2007

I hope this is hypothyroidism, for the relative straightforwardness of that treatment. I'm still worried, as I was last time you asked, about the similarity of your symptoms to the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis/post-viral fatigue. The waking up more tired, new type of headaches, short term/routine memory problems, and alcohol intolerance are prompting me to say that - as well as that this began with a viral-like illness (described in your last post) and that is has happened repeatedly, getting progressively worse each time. Those are all things that happen in that set of illnesses.

You really need to get all this written down on paper and get in to see a doctor who will keep after investigating this with you. If it does turn out to be this sort of illness, you should get in touch with the Nightingale Foundation. The best thing you can do to give yourself a good outcome is rest now. Really, really rest. Not just take it easy - I mean get flat and stay that way. Not to be alarmist, but if someone had told me that three years ago, I might not be housebound and need a wheelchair to go anywhere today.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:39 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Please remember that all of this is Internet chatter. My initial post about MS symptoms will be explored much quicker than any doctor will check for, "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," or this, "Myalgic encephalomyelitis." The latter will probably have never been heard of by your doctor and the former will probably be greeted with much skepticism. Many (if not most) people initially diagnosed (by physicians that diagnose these at all) with these syndromes are later found to be suffering from illnesses in which there is a concensus among the medical community as actual disease.

No need for the poster above to respond to me, as I am well aware of the highly controversial nature of CFS, etc. I have heard all the arguments and am absolutely convinced that the catch-all diagnosis is actually other medical conditions entirely. However, I respect your journey and am sorry for your current medical condition, which must be extremely hard to deal with - whatever the cause.

See your physician soon - and - good luck, Ctrl_Alt_ep.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 9:17 PM on November 20, 2007

Lupus is a relatively common auto-immune disorder known for causing fatigue and brain fog and being episodic (or "flaring") and getting worse during periods of emotional or physical stress. Fever, swollen glands, also fit with lupus, although you don't have them this time. Headaches, not so much, but maybe.

Really, though, it could be carbon monoxide poisoning for all I know.

Please go to doctors, get a referral from someone if you can. Your long-term health is more valuable than your bank balance, if you do have to pay out of pocket.

THIS IS NOT ALL IN YOUR HEAD. I cannot stress this enough. I don't want you to even consider that it's all in your head until you have thorough testing by a competent doctor, and then a second opinion from another competent doctor. This could be caused by so many (treatable!) conditions. You deserve diagnosis and treatment.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:22 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd also like to point out that I understand your reluctance to go to a doctor.

I really started hating doctors after being treated like a hypochondriac. Or like nothing was wrong with me. Or they'd give me a diagnosis that was completely crazy or tell me to get more exercise. And that's it. I felt hopeless.

But, after probably 7 doctors and 3 years of bullshit, I got an accurate diagnosis and I'm being medicated properly. If I could go back in time, I would try a lot harder a lot sooner to get a good diagnosis, even if it meant going to four doctors a month.

And go talk to your dean of students, see what can be done about your finals. Let your professors know what's going on, too. If you're generally a good student you might be able to get a break on this one.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:37 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Have you considered Fibromyalgia? Some of the symptoms of Fibro are: brain fog, cognitive problems, non-restorative sleep, fatigue, post-exertional malaise, reactive hypoglycemia the full list is around 40 different symptoms. It comes and goes, can be excerbated by stress and has many of the same symptoms of Chronic Fatigue & Lyme Disease. It is often considered a "trash can diagnosis", but the AMA has recognized it as legit.

IANAD, but have had a similiar expierence.
Keep the Faith, hope you feel better.
posted by misspat at 11:47 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

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