Home / Blog Posts / Fatigue and the Black Dog / Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 19

I checked in with the GP this week, and it was a worthwhile visit.

I’d been frustrated again over the weekend with the fatigue quickly following any activity. I felt that very little progress was being made towards recovery. It was time to check in with the GP and ask, is it still only a matter of time, or is there more I or we can do to manage this illness?

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar image

Looking at the blood test results, she further qualified the diagnosis as post viral fatigue, rather than necessarily glandular fever itself again. I don’t know that it feels any different for the patient, to be honest. But it did raise a bit more of a red flag warning for me that if we’re into post viral fatigue, we’re another step towards chronic fatigue syndrome, if indeed that’s not already in the background of all that I’m experiencing already.

Hearing that I spent the two weeks after the last visit completely resting, and since then have returned slowly to work, a few hours a day ‘at work’ and lots of rest, my doctor approved. That sounds an excellent approach, she said. So, thank you colleague and staff and congregation, we are on the right track, even if it’s not a fast one! She commented that community is a gift, well or ill, but particularly through illness, and a help towards healing. So true; and I have a good one.

Considering what more she could do to help the healing process, my doctor prescribed B12 injections, three of them over the next six weeks. I’ve had one already, will have another Christmas Eve, and the last when I return from Adelaide. She was also happy to hear there will be a couple of weeks of decent rest at home with family post-Christmas.

The first B12 injection hasn’t had me bouncing off walls with renewed energy, but in the past three days, I have been able to walk around the garden turning the drippers on and off without collapsing afterwards. I have also stood for half to a full hour each of the past three days hand watering the three different sections of garden, and again, not collapsed afterwards. I have had a little sit down or lie down after, but not felt the heavy fatigue I felt attempting these activities the week before. So it seems the B12 will be a helpful promoter of recovery.

I am starting to be able to concentrate for a little longer each day, so that I can work towards some important tasks: writing sermons for the first time in over a month, planning content and structure for the Sunday morning program for the children in our congregation, and writing creatively. Congregations around the world will be singing new words to an Advent/Christmas hymn tomorrow, which I composed this week.

This week I’ve begun to worry that, as I choose not to participate in many of the gatherings of the season for end of year and Christmas celebrations within the parish and presbytery, I am withdrawing into a hermit kind of mindset. I have a slight concern that I am using the illness as an excuse to keep to myself, when perhaps I don’t need to, and that that might not be entirely healthy. I did speak to the doctor about the concern that with all this solitude, weariness, heaviness, being unwell, the door may be open for depression to enter again, and that thought frightens me. I told her I want to check in with her regularly, and would like her to help me keep tabs on the depression, and she understood. However, I do know that, from experience, being around people tires me out more than usual these days, so if I can push the fear back into its box, I can reassure myself that solitude, that not participating in large gatherings in particular, is still part of the healing process, and a necessary part. I do like people, and gathering with community, and I do feel the disappointment of missing out on these occasions. So I think the hermit-like tendencies are an instinct for healing, rather than an unhealthy closing myself off from relationships and community. Phew.

That I am able to contribute to my community, and the broad community of the church world wide, with my writing, even in the midst of this isolating illness, is a comfort and a gift for which I am grateful. So as the fog lifts, and the physical fatigue keeps me isolated and sitting still a lot, let’s hope the creative juices flow ever more freely and help me fulfil my vocation and purpose, despite the challenges.

And with that, I must now sign off and polish off the sermon for tomorrow morning – which you will be able to read as this week’s midweek musing.