Analogies for unaffected

The Very Busy Day

This will hopefully describe to those who are not affected an idea of how it can feel to have Chronic Fatigue. 

The first analogy is the one my Nan used to describe Chronic Fatigue to a lady she met on the bus, this is the very busy day theory. The second scenario, I refer to as one for the boys; the petrol gauge analogy.

1. The very busy day;

Imagine you wake up bright and early after a badly disturbed night sleep. You lay there wanting to close your eyes, and have a few more hours in bed but know you can’t because you have a long and full day ahead of you.

 You get up, shower, get dressed, get the kids up, dressed and fed. You make the kids lunch and ensure the kids have everything before herding them into the car and leaving to do the school run.

After you drop them off you head to your own full time job. This job can be anything but my Nan used to work for a large department store so I usually use this. At your job you are on your feet all day walking around, doing stock take and fills, talking to customers and running general errands. It is a busy day like a department store on a Saturday. The shop is full of customers; you are trying to stock shelves, serve customers, and make sure everything runs smoothly. You spend the day on your feet, walking miles of the shop floor and you only manage a short lunch break.

In the early evening you leave work and pick the kids up. You have to go food shopping which the kids hate and it is always an effort to keep them happy whilst doing this mundane task. You come home for a full night ahead of you, cook the dinner, wash and wipe up, help kids with their homework, bath kids, put them to bed, tidy the house, iron for the next day.

Finally it is getting late and all you want to do is put your aching feet and wary body to bed as you are so exhausted. When you lie in bed, you head is banging, your mind is racing with all the things you have the next day, you feel sick and your body especially is aching with muscles twinges that hurt every time you move making comfort of the bed impossible.

Imagine how you feel at that moment……Hold onto it……This is how most people with Chronic Fatigue feel when waking in the morning with a full day ahead of us.  

2. The petrol gauge analogy

Most people refuel their energy supply when they sleep, thus they start their day with a full tank of fuel (energy), slowly depleting as the day goes on, ending perhaps with a quarter of a tank before going to bed to refuel and begin the process.

With Chronic Fatigue, on a good day most of us will start with this quarter of a tank when we awake in the morning. This is depleted fairly quickly so early on in the day we may need a rest to refuel this quarter, sometimes this is depleted slowly and we may last the entire day, slowly draining our tank until we fall into bed that night with an empty tank, the light has just come on and we have a few miles remaining before our tank is completely depleted.

On what we call a bad day we are not lucky to even start the day with a quarter of the tank. We start with the empty tank. On rising, this tank depletes quickly, the refuel light comes on and yet we know we must go on without refuelling. We keep going until the fuel light flashes and the engine, our body eventually comes to a stand still. We collapse exhausted, in pain and tired, the only thing that can be done is to rest and refuel before we have either replenished our quarter of the tank or we are jumpstarted.

This continuous cycle of depleting our fuel will eventually take its toll on us and our engine will eventually start to show signs of wear and tear. If we do not read the sighs eventually our engine may pack up completely and we will suffer what is referred to as a relapse which causes our condition to worsen so we are no longer awaking with a tank slightly refuelled, our tank on waking will be empty.   

This is the idea of the petrol gauge analogy, to explain that by continuously depleting our energy sources, eventually we will not be able to refuel and our condition gets worse.