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I'm wondering if there's something wrong with me, or if it's just chronic exhaustion

(53 Posts)
CinnabarRed Mon 05-Nov-12 13:57:59

I'm not sure whether to go to the GP, or just wait to see if my health improves when (if) my sleep does.

By way of background I have three DSs under the age of 5. None of them sleep well and I haven't had an unbroken night of sleep in almost 5 years (on the handful of occasions when all three have slept through I have woken anyway). It may well be that this is the root cause of my symptoms, and I would be delighted if that were the case! I also work FT.

I am 37.

I am permanently exhausted. I find it hard to concentrate. I am frighteningly forgetful.

I wake up tired.

My whole body aches when I get up from sitting, from my heels up to my shoulders. I hobble for several steps before I can walk normally.

My feet and hands tingle/go numb. I think my tingly hands are due to carpal tunnel syndrome, which comes and goes. I'm not sure about my feet - my GP thought it was a trapped nerve and suggested wearing flat shoes which helps somewhat, although my little toes are still numb.

We went to a theme park on Saturday and I had to go to bed at 7:45PM when we got home.

My DM has multiple sclerosis, and I worry that I may have it too.

Is how I'm feeling normal, under my circumstances? Or should I go back to my GP?

Midge25 Mon 05-Nov-12 14:11:18

On one level, having 3 under 5, and the fatigue that goes with that and ft work, is going to have an impact. But I would probably head to GP for a check-up - not necessarily because it sounds like MS, but because there could be issues around anaemia or your thyroid that could be playing a role?

HeathRobinson Mon 05-Nov-12 14:17:34

I'd go back to your GP and have yourself checked out.

Also, can you alternate 'night shift' with your dp so that you are guaranteed a night's sleep every other night?

CinnabarRed Mon 05-Nov-12 14:25:17

We tried night shifts. The problem is that he's a really heavy sleeper. Even with earplugs in, I wake before he does when the children cry. By the time I managed to wake him I was so wide awake that it wasn't worth it.

The one night I had to be away on business, DS2 cried until he was sick before DH actually woke up. DH felt dreadful.

digerd Mon 05-Nov-12 15:17:24

I agree with Midge. My sister had an underactive Thyroid gland after her 2nd child was born but she did have other symptoms like no periods for 4 months. But Thyroid blood test would determine if not working properly and easily cured.

myfavoritedayismonday Mon 05-Nov-12 16:26:24

Sorry you are having such a hard time. I think that you should definitely go to your GP, I think it is part of the British psyche 'not to bother the gp', but actually, if we aren't feeling right, we should go.

There are also people you could try for help about the sleep problems. I always found my health visitor helpful, she (or he), may be able to refer you to someone, but she may also have helpful advice. I remember my health visitor giving me advice on my todler's sleep. I was sure it wouldn't help, but I tried it anyway, and it did.

hungryallthetime Mon 05-Nov-12 16:55:43

anaemia? I think that might might have tingly hands/feet as symptoms, definitely has tiredness and forgetfulness as a symptom. Obviously the GP will find this if they do any blood tests

fuzzpig Mon 05-Nov-12 17:24:44

You need to have lots of blood tests.

Have you heard of CFS chronic fatigue syndrome? It is the new name for ME. It might be worth a google as the forgetfulness (CFSers call it brain fog) and the aches make me think of it - however remember there are lots of easily treatable illnesses with the same symptoms, or as you say, it could 'just' be your circumstances. But either way you deserve to feel better, so it's worth chasing it up.

CinnabarRed Mon 05-Nov-12 21:44:44

Thanks everyone.

DS1's sleep disturbances are so profound that we've finally been referred to a sleep clinic. He has chronic parasomnias. The HV, GP and paediatrician were all unable to help, so this is the last chance saloon.

DS2's just an early riser. The clocks changing have been a bit of a disaster, because he's waking at 4 rather than 5. I'm a morning person myself, and I could cope with DS2 if the others were sleeping OK.

DS3 should (ha!) grow out of his nightime clingyness as he gets older and more independent.

Everything hurts tonight. My whole body feels like I've over-exercised, when I haven't.

I'm going to the doctor as soon as I can get the time off work. Fingers crossed for Wednesday. I'm scared that it will be MS or CFS that will stop me being the mother I want to be to my boys.

awaywego1 Mon 05-Nov-12 22:17:07

I'd also ask to have your vitd levels checked as tiredness, achiness and tingly ness can all be symptoms.

mercibucket Mon 05-Nov-12 22:47:47

Ask for thyroid, vit d, b12, full blood count to include ferritin
It sounds like something easily dealt with but important to identify, like a thyroid problem or vitamin deficiency
Don't be fobbed off - you need the blood tests

mercibucket Mon 05-Nov-12 22:47:49

Ask for thyroid, vit d, b12, full blood count to include ferritin
It sounds like something easily dealt with but important to identify, like a thyroid problem or vitamin deficiency
Don't be fobbed off - you need the blood tests

fuzzpig Tue 06-Nov-12 08:44:21

There's a nice fuzzy CFS support thread here if you want to chat about symptoms etc. It's worth a read if you can face ploughing through it, as you might pick up on other little niggly things that you've been ignoring, but that actually might all be part of the same illness. Some of us haven't been diagnosed yet either (including me) and are still hoping it's something easy to fix! smile

CinnabarRed Tue 06-Nov-12 18:12:28

I'm too scared to look at the CFS support threa just yet. But thank you. It's good to know it's there.

drizzlecake Tue 06-Nov-12 18:39:27

I would say you are exhausted because you have an exhausting life and possibly not because you are ill.

And letting DH off because he is a heavy sleeper - huh, is he such a heavy sleeper that he would sleep through you DS if he was sleeping on DS's floor.

If you are this worn out I would nip out and buy a blow up mattress and on Mon Wed and Fri DH sleeps on DS's floor. Ok there will be a kerfuffle initially and DS might take a while to settle, but you really need some rest .

I let my DH off getting up with the DCs because he had a demanding job rah, rah, rah but now see that I also didn't want to appear as if I wasn't coping with motherhood (everyone else seemed fine!) and didn't want to seem neurotic (by sleeping on the couch or similar to make sure I got some sleep) when in fact bringing up small DCs is exhausting and ANY method should be used to soften the blow. Decide on the best solution FOR YOU (not DCs or DH) and stick to it.

And, any DH worth his salt would realise that SOMETHING had to change as his DW is exhausted and taking the selfish and easy option of 'being a heavy sleeper' is not on. Which is why I am so annoyed with myself for letting my DH put himself first when I was run down and don't want you to do the same, Cinnabar.

gerbilsarefun Tue 06-Nov-12 21:29:32

As pps have said, sounds like my symptoms before diagnosed with an overactive thyroid. As well as fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations and the shakes, I had a bout of something like carpal tunnel. A simple blood test will show if it is your thyroid. The patient UK website will give a list of symptoms and treatment. I have 2 children (11 & 14 now) and never felt fatigue like I did with my thyroid, when they were younger.

greeneyed Wed 07-Nov-12 09:42:38

Cinnarbared, agree with drizzle cake - get the baby monitor and put it next to your partners head on full volume! My BIL does this I don't wake up thing it makes me mad! You need some rest. Your little ones will survive x

CinnabarRed Wed 07-Nov-12 11:59:24

Last night was a relatively bad night.

DS3 needed a cuddle at 11:15, and then was awake from 1:15 until 3. Perfectly happy when I held him, yelling when in his cot. We played PUPD a lot.

DS1 had a nightterror at 1:30, so I had to deal with both DS1 and DS3 at the same time.

DS2 woke for the day at 4:15.

DH and I happened to sleep in the spare room last night because our bedroom is being redecorated. The spare room is much closer to DS3's room than our bedroom is. DH commented this morning that it had been a horrendous night. I wanted to deck him - if he was woken by DS3 then why didn't he get odd his arse and take him for an hour or so?

greeneyed Wed 07-Nov-12 12:37:42

Oh Cinnabar - he has to help sad

Arithmeticulous Wed 07-Nov-12 12:46:18

Can I just add something into the mix- DH is the light sleeper, I sleep more heavily. Our children rarely sleep through (9 years and counting). When DH is home, he usually gets up and deals with them before I stir - when he is away, I am up at the first sign because I know I have to be. When he is home, my brain switches off and lets me sleep. Most of the time without it being a conscious decision to be lazy - because that's what it is, laziness on my part because I know he will pick up the slack blush

Is that what your DH is thinking?

Lastyearsmodel Wed 07-Nov-12 12:57:05

Want to offer you my sympathy, Cinnabar, and say while I think you should get your health checked out, what you need to be doing right now is setting some rules/boundaries with your unhelpful DH.

Care of the DCs MUST be 50/50, and in this situation where you are becoming seriously run down, your DH needs to do more, like about 100%, for a few days and nights to allow you to recover. He will moan, he may try tactics to get out of it, but you must summon your remaining reserves to assert your right to share parenting, not do it all yourself. Wake DH up, tell him he's sorting the crying child and lie back down. Even if it takes you a while to drift off, relax knowing it's not your turn.

You are number 1 - if you go down completely, the whole family suffers. Your DCs and DH can have a few rough nights with no lasting effects.

You could even try a night or two away to force the issue - Travelodge sale on, check Money Saving Expert for details!

CinnabarRed Wed 07-Nov-12 13:16:30

I really do think that DH isn't usually consciously lazy, it's like Arithmeticulous describes.

I do think he abdicates responsibility for DS3, but only because DS3 gets so distraught with anyone other than me.

DH is also working really long hours at the moment. He gets up at 6:30, leaves the house at 7:30, and doesn't get home until 8. He has a couple of hours with me, and then works from 10 until 12 most nights. I really don't think he can afford to sleep less than he is.

Lastyearsmodel Wed 07-Nov-12 13:39:55

"I really don't think he can afford to sleep less than he is. " But neither can you! Your DH is working hard and so are you. If things are tough for 1 parent, they need to be tough for 2.

My DC3 was/is very attached to me and would very often be handed back to me distraught after DP had tried to settle her, but over time she has got better and I have gotten tougher - I thought to myself, how can DP find ways of comforting her if I always allow her to be handed back to me?

<stern voice, looks over top of glasses> Put yourself first. Don't excuse others' behaviour at the expense of your own health and sanity.

Arithmeticulous Wed 07-Nov-12 13:49:57

Even with my DH doing 90% of the night time stuff, that was with DC3 & 4 absolutely hating his guts grin Perhaps he was just doing it to court popularity, but he'd deal as much as he could before giving and waking me - even if it was only 10 minutes worth of childcare, it was another 10 minutes of sleep for me.

Your DH needs to step up and let you sleep that type of sleep where you can totally relax knowing someone else is in charge - because even if you only get 3 hours in a row, three hours of that deep, no responsibility sleep is worth more than 5 hours of the sleep you snatch while dreaming about kids screaming and just waiting to be woken up again.

Is he working to avoid dealing with the kids?

I think you need the all clear from the GP re blood tests and then to rethink things at home.

HeathRobinson Wed 07-Nov-12 14:10:38

What about dh taking them out at the weekend and you sleeping for as long as you can in the day?

If he's having a good night's sleep every night, it seems only fair.

TigerFeet Wed 07-Nov-12 14:19:15

I was much the same, turns out I have a fairly severe Vit D deficiency.

I would go to your GP and ask for a full set of tests, just to rule out any underlying causes. I did this and wasn't expecting to get anything other than the all clear as my life is pretty hectic and dd2 isn't a great sleeper (nothing like the OP's ds though sad ).

I'm wondering if I've had it for a few years and just never realised. I can't go in the sun for long, I'm very fair and burn easily plus I had a pre-cancerous growth removed from the skin on my arm about 4 years ago so I'm probably a bit OTT with the factor 50. It's the UVB rays in sunshine that trigger your body to manufacture Vit D. DO you think you get enough sun?

Symptoms for me are tiredness, general aches and pains that can't be pinpointed, poor concentration - the same as being run down. I'm also being treated for depression, which can also be a symptom of vit D deficiency.

Your dh needs to help out more. Regardless of whether your tiredness has an underlying physical cause or not, he's taking the piss a wee bit imo.

Mayisout Wed 07-Nov-12 18:02:46

As other poster said it isn't necessarily laziness. My DH never got up to the DCs, I was a light sleeper and always heard the first squeak.

But he did get up once when the new puppy had the squits after chewing a lamb bone all evening grin - my ears were just not tuned to puppy yelps!

But your DH could do say weekends, when he isn't working the next day, you shouldn't be doing it all. He could see the early riser, or do one night in the week and the weekend.

Missing the odd night is absolutely not the same as the relentless weeks of broken sleep with small DCs.

Get your health checked too but you won't feel magnificent if you still aren't getting adequate sleep.

CinnabarRed Wed 14-Nov-12 14:15:47

I saw my GP today who has sent me for an emergency neurologist appointment at 9AM tomorrow morning.

She has also done a whole battery of blood tests - so many, in fact, that she couldn't order them all on one form and had to complete two shock!

Will let you know how that goes.

digerd Wed 14-Nov-12 15:42:03

GP today and specialist appt tomorrow at 9am - wow you have a special dr there.
Let us know what the neurologist said - never been seen by one of those myself.

DinosaursOnASpaceship Wed 14-Nov-12 16:02:20

I am sorry you are feeling so rough and im glad the doctor is on the ball and you are going to be seen so quickly.

I have seen a neurologist and just to put your mind at rest it's not as scary as it sounds. He just asked a few questions, tapped my knees, stroked my face - testing reflexes I think. And that was it. He made a referral for an MRI which I have next week. I was scared before my appointment though as I had no idea what to expect.

Your sleepless nights sound awful. Ds3 is a terrible sleeper and the only way I've found to cope is to have him in the bed with me. I don't have a partner anymore but when I did I would often leave him to sleep on the sofa - he always slept through ds crying and never got up with him. Ds4 is due at the end of January and I am dreading the sleepless nights. I function at the moment as I go to bed at 7.30pm with ds3, and often sleep during the day with him when he naps. I don't know how to advise you or help you but you have my sympathy.

fuzzpig Wed 14-Nov-12 16:15:51

Excellent news about the referral and blood tests. Hopefully it won't be long before you find out what's going on smile

CinnabarRed Wed 14-Nov-12 16:50:41

GP today and specialist appt tomorrow at 9am - wow you have a special dr there.

I know. My private health insurance company has also been excellent. My GP gave me the names of 2 neurologists at the local private hospital. I called my PHI provider and they gave me an authorisation number on the phone and confirmed that one of the two neurologists is already on their system so is pre-approved for payments from them. So I called his secretary, who'd just had a cancellation for tomorrow and offered it to me there and then. My GP is faxing her referral overnight.

It would have been a wait of around 3 months for an NHS consultant. My GP said that if I had PHI then now was the time to use it. So I did. I'm very lucky to be in a position where private care is a possibility.

Blood test results due next Tuesday.

CinnabarRed Wed 14-Nov-12 16:52:06

Dinosaurs - that sound tough. I hope you have family and friends supporting you. 4 sons is very special.

DinosaursOnASpaceship Wed 14-Nov-12 18:31:34

I'm lucky, I don't work so don't need an active mind every day and can rest and take it easy whilst ds3 plays. I go to bed very early of an evening and mn on my phone until I fall asleep. I couldn't cope in your position, I think you need a medal!

Four boys is brilliant. I have it all planned out, I'm going to have a builder, plumber, electrician and an interior designer and between the four of them they can build me a house! A few flaws to the plan - ds2 wants to deliver pizza hmm but I live in hope smile

CinnabarRed Wed 14-Nov-12 18:58:18

I certainly don't deserve a medal! I'm one of those who find working less stressful than looking after young children.

And your plan still works with a pizza deliverer involved - they've got to eat, you know!

2old2beamum Wed 14-Nov-12 20:23:11

CinnabarRed Although a lot older than you but like you have 2 SN's children your symptoms replicate mine to a "T"
In desperation I went to GP had blood tests and like Tigerfeet my vit D was rock bottom and also calcium levels were very high. I was diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism and am now waiting for parathyroid surgery
Good luck for tomorrow

Spookey80 Wed 14-Nov-12 20:26:38

Glad you went to GP. Keep us posted. Good luck.

DinosaursOnASpaceship Thu 15-Nov-12 08:06:35

I hope your appointment goes well this morning smile

Hattie11 Thu 15-Nov-12 08:12:41

You sound a lot like me. I have rheumatoid arthritis plus 4 children who seem to have organised a rota of night wakings between themselves.

I have to really look after myself else I suffer really bad - not just arthritis aches but also exhaustion and the fatigue u describe - like have been doing a full work out.

Hattie11 Thu 15-Nov-12 08:14:01

Oops sorry didn't realise there was page 2 glad u getting seen to x

ppeatfruit Thu 15-Nov-12 10:16:58

One easy thing you could do is look at yr. wheat intake, DH gets terrible fatigue,bad temper and bloating if he eats wheat (when he doesn't he's like a different person).

So many things have wheat in them but the supermkts. are getting better with the wheat free bread, pasta etc.

For the pains you could also try not eating any pork products. DH cured his disabling pains just by giving up pork products !! Also maybe a kelp supplement and linseed oil could help.

CinnabarRed Thu 15-Nov-12 10:51:48

Just got back from the consultant.

It was very much as Dinosaurs described - he took a detailed medical history and then did a battery of reflex-based tests on my arms, legs and eyes.

The great news is that he found no evidence of systematic central nervous system damage, and ruled out MS there and then. I'm so relieved! I hadn't realised quite now worried about MS I was.

There does seem to be some localised nerve damage in my hands and feet. I have to go back tomorrow afternoon for more tests which will look at how well my nerve cells transmit electrical currents. I'm not clear on whether it will focus on just the local issues or be wider, but as it's due to take an hour it sounds quite comprehensive.

I then go back to see him next Thursday when he'll discuss both my electric test and my blood test results.

Interestingly, he talked about vitamin D a lot, both in the context of MS and more widely.

He's been involved in a recent study which demonstrated an almost complete corrolation between incidence of MS and sunlight exposure, factoring in cultural differences (so, for example, that Scandanavian coutries get less sunlight than Scotland but have more of an outdoors culture which more than compensates). He is also involved in an ongoing genetic study which has demonstrated that people with MS show variations in 4 key genes which are associated vitamin D absorption/inhibition.

Pure speculation on my part, but given my DM has MS, I wonder if perhaps I share some of her genetic variations - not enough to trigger MS, thankfully, but enough to mean that I'm not as efficient at absorbing vitamin D as the norm?

Thanks to everyone who has posted. I'll keep you informed.

(ppeatfruit - interesting that you mention diet. I'm really ignorant about these things. Do you know if wheat, pork, kelp and lindseed have anything at all to do with vitamin D?)

ppeatfruit Thu 15-Nov-12 11:16:38

I'm not sure about that Cinna the medics said that to DH as well; but he spends much more time in the sun than me 'cos he has olive skin. I'm much healthier than him 'cos I take my health seriously. D.H. is off and on but he has def. given up pork which has made a huge difference !!But as I said the diet thing can totally cure many more things than most people have any idea about!

The linseed oil and starflower oil is for EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) which we all need more of. Also the kelp has most vitamins in it.

ppeatfruit Thu 15-Nov-12 11:19:47

Oh also Evening Primrose oil is another good EFA.

CinnabarRed Thu 15-Nov-12 15:01:26

Right. I don't have kelp or linseed oil to hand, but I've just taken a multivitamin. Off to the shops later to see what I can get from Tesco.

Pork is easy - I hardly eat it anyway.

Wheat is a bit harder, not least because I love baking my own bread. I think I'll try the other things first, and look at cutting wheat out if I'm still struggling.

ppeatfruit Thu 15-Nov-12 15:51:01

I make my own bread with Kamut flour or spelt it's easier because they don't need kneading grin my mum uses spelt flour in her breadmaker too. So you don't have to give up bread at all!! You'll get linseed oil in Tesxxs.Kelp too or spirulina (that's another type of kelp)

ppeatfruit Thu 15-Nov-12 15:52:54

There's a good book out called 'Wheat Belly" by William Davis M.D. which is frightening about the symptoms of wheat intolerance. BTW

CinnabarRed Mon 19-Nov-12 11:43:40

Just a quick update about the tests I had on Friday.

I had various uncomfortable but not painful electrical shocks put through both hand and both feet. I then had needles pushed into various muscles in my legs while I had to contract and relax the muscles - that hurt a lot!

It turns out that I have severe carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. I will have to have operations on both wrists, ideally deferred until DS3 can walk; my neurologist wants to look at the results in detail before deciding if it can wait.

I also have the equivalent to carpel tunnel syndrome in both feet. This is reasonably rare so doesn't have a name as such. It's less severe than in my wrists, and may resolve itself with cortisol injections rather than operations.

I still have my blood test results to collect, but I'm now hopeful that we've got to the bottom of the tingling/numbness.

I also threw my toys out of the pram with DH over the weekend. I told him that I can't live with the exhaustion any longer and that short term fixes like napping at the weekend aren't good enough. We've agreed that we'll self-refer back to the private sleep clinic that help us manage DS1's night-terrors to get help with DS2 and DS3.

fuzzpig Mon 19-Nov-12 12:05:06

Excellent news (well sort of - in that you have an answer!)

And good for you for laying into your h about it. Hope you get the support you need now. smile

fuzzpig Mon 19-Nov-12 12:06:29

The foot version is called tarsal tunnel BTW - my mum had it mildly, before that I didn't even know it existed!

LadyWidmerpool Mon 19-Nov-12 12:39:09

Can you get signed off for a while? The carpal tunnel sounds enough to stop you working. That could give you a chance to catch up with some sleep?

I would be tempted to tell DH he has to sit up all night once in a while to let you have a proper night, if he sleeps too deeply to be woken. It won't kill him!

Good luck.

CinnabarRed Mon 19-Nov-12 12:56:58

I would be tempted to tell DH he has to sit up all night once in a while to let you have a proper night, if he sleeps too deeply to be woken. It won't kill him

TBF (not what I felt like being at the weekend!) he has offered to do the thing suggested upthread, where he would sleep with the monitors right next to his bed and I would go to the spare room with ear plugs in. He's also offered for me to go to a hotel for the weekend on my own, or for him to take the boys out at the weekend so I can sleep all day. But I don't want to spend my whole weekend asleep. I want to be with by DH and DCs.

Plus, it's only really a sticking plaster. What I really want is to get the root cause of their sleep issues sorted out so I can start to live my life again.

Since I started this thread, we've had our first consultation with the sleep clinic about DS1's parasomnias, and they've assured us that things will improve. We've been doing a few things 'wrong' and we've got a plan in place to put them right. Realistically, he won't ever be a great sleeper, and is likely to sleepwalk when he's older, but we should be able to reduce the frequency of his night-terrors from several per night to one or two per week.

I think that DS2 and DS3's sleep issues are far more straightforward, but I've lost confidence in my ability to sort them out. I want to refer us back as a whole family. I thought that if we could get DS1 sorted then I could cope with DS2 and DS3. But I can't.

Apart from anything else, I think I would find it far easier to put difficult advice into practice if an expert has told me what to do (one of the hardest pieces of advice with DS1 is not to wake him from his night-terrors. They think that night-terrors occur when a sleeper's brain gets 'stuck' between two different dream states; you have to let their brain make its own transition. If you wake them then their brain hasn't 'reset' itself and the sleeper falls straight into another night-terror. It completely goes against my instinct to leave DS1 sobbing and screaming in his bed, especially because his eyes are open and he looks awake. But it works, and he has no recollection of it the next morning).

CinnabarRed Mon 19-Nov-12 12:58:04

But, that said, I'm going to ask to be signed off for a week, as a short term fix, to try to feel a bit more human again.

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