Fatigue. One of my very favorite complaints. Right up there with dizziness.
Let me preface this by saying that if you’re 80-something with an 8-10 page medical history and you’re coming in to be evaluated for a recent onset of fatigue and/or dizziness, you have my attention.
But you are not my patient. (Unless going back to school and spending the rest of your retirement and reverse mortgage on university tuition was on your bucket list.) No, my patient is generally somewhere between 18 and 22 and has a negative medical history. As in, completely negative. I ask if they’ve ever had any significant medical problems, EVER, and the answer is no. (With a quizzical look. As if to say, what, people actually have those?)
But they’re always absolutely certain there’s a medical reason they’re feeling tired. A “serious” reason. Maybe it’s mono. Maybe it’s their thyroid! Dr. Google and/or their parents know all about the thyroid.
I’ll order some labs – since, let’s be honest, that’s really why they’re there – but unless they have some other, more (cough) substantial symptoms, the labs will nearly always be normal. But of course they were. After 5 minutes of talking to them, I knew why they’re tired.
Here’s the thing. Teens and young adults are notoriously terribly to their bodies. They drink like fishes, and eat nothing but fried chemicals shaped like food, and fall off things, either at high speeds or from great distances.
But eventually, it catches up with you. I KNOW. IT SUCKS. If you’d like to file a complaint with the universe, I’d totally understand. But your body can’t remain your personal punching bag forever. Eventually, it starts to fight back. And it fights dirty. Like, street dirty.
You can’t blame it. It’s acting in its own self defense. Since you clearly can’t be trusted to allow for adequate sleepy time voluntarily, you body will shut. it. down. until even the thought of pulling on your mini and heels for another night out with the girls makes you want to curl up in your floral comforter and cry quiet tears of exhaustion.
This is not pathology. This is your body acting perfectly rationally to ensure its own survival well into and beyond middle age – or at least long enough to earn its own 8-10 page medical history.
You’re tired? GET MORE SLEEP.