Extreme Fatigue after Carotid Artery Dissection

I was partly inspired to write this after reading a wonderful post by Zoe of  I Believe in Romeo.  The post was entitled Perfection is a Skill, Darlings and it really resonated with me for a number of reasons.  The first was that, like Zoe,  I am also a perfectionist and set incredibly high standards for myself. I also put on the 'I'm fine' demeanor, even when I'm feeling the exact opposite because I hate to seem weak or whingey.
These last few weeks (and months in fact) have really tested me, though, and I've come to realise that I need to lower the bar, allow myself to do nothing and learn to heal emotionally and physically.

This was me yesterday, looking fine, right? ....

Cliona taking a selfie with Necklace

Well no, I was far from fine but like to keep on top of all my business social media 'duties' so was taking a picture for Instagram. I had an atrocious headache all day and felt exhausted beyond belief. Exhaustion that has been going on for weeks now, that is never relieved by sleep or rest, that is relentless and never ending.  It's hard to even describe - it would be like saying to you 'go run a marathon' and then expecting you to do a full day's work and then housework too. That's how impossible my life feels right now. 

Pressure in work on Thursday and staring at a screen all day made me feel so ill that I just snapped. I rang the doctor and burst into tears and then burst into tears whilst on lunch too.  I think it was at that point that I realised I needed to do something.

 I need to accept that I'm not superwoman, I can't do it all - in fact I can do very little right now. And I need to take away the mental pressures and constant 'to do' list that plays over and over in my head. I have to let my candle business take a back seat, stop thinking about deadlines and stop feeling guilty for just sitting down doing nothing.

And the reason for the fatigue? My carotid artery dissection has caused a plethora of peripheral symptoms that seem to be pretty common to us CAD sufferers but are as yet undocumented and largely unacknowledged by doctors. This in itself has been a source of frustration and anxiety and one of the reasons I want to write about my own experience is so that people new to this don't feel isolated and know that what they are experiencing is totally 'normal'.

Right now I'm praying every day that I will wake up one day soon feeling a little bit better, and then a bit better again after that and that maybe my life will return to some kind of balance where every day isn't a struggle.  In the meantime, I have made an appointment to talk to a counsellor so that I can maybe cope a bit better with things and I'm still trying to enjoy the little things like the beautiful autumn colours..

Autumn Colours in the Trees on the Curragh, County Kildare

If you would like to read the full story of my Carotid Artery Dissection, you can take a look at the posts below:

Carotid Artery Diagnosis

Struggles with being ill

A Rant about Doctors

And here are the links again for the Facebook Support Groups:

Carotid Artery Dissection Public Group

Carotid Artery Dissection Closed Group

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  • Emma
    Emma 22 October 2015 at 20:26

    oh goodness I hope you are feeling better soon. I just read your other post as have never heard of CAD before.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous 4 September 2023 at 06:02

      How do I connect with her. I am experiencing all she said after a carotid endarterectomy. I'm not me anymore

  • Angela Milnes
    Angela Milnes 22 October 2015 at 21:46

    I hope your health starts to improve. it's so difficult to feel fatigued all the time! I am a living example lol. Fingers crossed for you. Angela x

  • Cuddle Fairy
    Cuddle Fairy 22 October 2015 at 22:06

    I'm sorry to hear that you are dealing with this condition & it's side effects. Blogging is so much hard work, I can't imagine adding fatigue & anxiety on top of it. You are doing such an amazing job, I never would have known! It's really wonderful that you are putting yourself out there to help others in the same situation, well done x

  • Aly
    Aly 22 October 2015 at 23:16

    Can you get a VA to help out a few hours a week? I find it hard keeping up, I'm still trying to clear the backlog from the summer holidays.I hope you feel better soon.

  • Random Musings
    Random Musings 23 October 2015 at 00:40

    Sorry to hear you are feeling this way. I think it takes someone extremely strong to ask for help when it is needed. Don't beat yourself up for being human :)

  • Hayley: Sparkles and Stretchmarks
    Hayley: Sparkles and Stretchmarks 23 October 2015 at 01:31

    So sorry to hear that you're feeling this way. I can totally relate to the pressure to keep the public smile on. It's so hard to just admit sometimes that actually things are a bit rubbish at the moment :/ I hope you feel better soon xx

  • Unknown
    Unknown 23 October 2015 at 10:05

    Do not feel bad about having to take time off Cliona! I have these constant to-do lists floating around my head too, and I always feel like I need to do a million and one things. But I'm taking this weekend to relax and unwind and stop stressing about little things :) Hope you can do the same x

  • Janine
    Janine 23 October 2015 at 11:21

    I hope you feel better soon. I feel like that some days too and just want to lie on my bed doing nothing. Like you I am staring at a screen all day in work and on top of that I have to look after the kids after work. More than a full time job for sure but that's life and what I have chosen

  • Erica Price
    Erica Price 23 October 2015 at 15:05

    It's something I've never heard of before. I hope you feel better soon: that sort of exhaustion must be very wearing.

  • K Elizabeth
    K Elizabeth 23 October 2015 at 21:21

    Hope you're feeling better soon. I can relate about setting the bar high for yourself. I'm terrible for that, when in reality it's just not possible to get my never ending to do list in one day! Xxx

  • Emma T
    Emma T 24 October 2015 at 00:04

    Beautiful autumn photo at the end.

    I think it's great that you've realised that the bar doesn't need to be so high. Hopefully it'll give you a bit of leeway to get better.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous 24 January 2023 at 15:32

    I know this is an older post, but thank you. I am a young mom, and I was diagnosed with a vertebral dissection about two weeks ago. I’m thought it was just me, but I’m so exhausted all the time. I’m cranky, and my house is messy. It bothers me, but I can almost not function by the time my older daughter gets home from school. Some things are slowly improving, which I’m grateful for, but it’s frustrating. Like you, I’m trying to focus on healing and living in the moment. 💜 I hope you’re doing better now.

    • Cliona Kelliher
      Cliona Kelliher 5 March 2023 at 20:22

      Thank you so much. It took about 3-4 years before I really felt back to normal, although it was slowly but surely improving all the time. Do take care of yourself, I know how frustrating and disheartening it can be.

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