The curse of the chronically exhausted atheist

It's hot and I'm tired. I'm tired all the time, though. Even in perfect weather I don't have the energy to accomplish much.

The problem is, I can't start a conversation about it without pseudo-medicine inserting itself and getting in the way. My own PCP won't listen to me - he just tells me that chronic fatigue syndrome doesn't exist and shugs his shoulders when I ask him what other ideas he has. My previous doctor, same thing. Woo believers love to talk to me, but I'm not going to a chiropractor or taking St. John's wort - sorry, I can tell you now that those suggestions aren't helpful.

I hate that the woo-sters have taken over the "vague pain and exhaustion" category of medical issues. What about those of us who would rather find an efficacious treatment and start living a normal life? Maybe be able to get a full-time job for the first time in... forever? Keep up with an active family life?

And really, what kind of doctor won't even talk to you because other people are interested in holistic medicine? Screw those other people! Maybe the reason they turn to charlatans is because they can't get any MD's to listen to them.

Several times, he's offered me Prozac, which is clearly meant to act as a placebo. (Happy pills to shut the patient up.) How is that any better than homeopathy?

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Comment by G. Silva on August 7, 2010 at 8:03am
One would hope. I'm sure it's only a fluke that I consistently seem to only get the bad doctors (I have some jaw-dropping bad doctor stories, but most have been on the level of my current physician) and if I keep trying, eventually the odds will turn in my favor. Hey, my standards are low - they don't have to cure me, just speak intelligently to me.
Comment by Rich Lane on August 6, 2010 at 3:15pm
So, what would I say to a neurologist?

I wouldn't worry overly about that. A good doctor, neurologist or otherwise, knows what questions to ask you.
Comment by G. Silva on August 6, 2010 at 2:53pm
I have in fact tried exercise... sunlight, nutrition, limiting my diet, gotten blood tests for hypothyroid and anemia and various deficiencies.

The problem with exercise is it wipes me out. I can never get a runner's high; I only get a runner's collapse-on-the-couch-and-pretend-I'm-dead, even if I only exercise for 10 minutes and hardly break a sweat. I exercise anyway, a little each day, because I know that I need the physical stamina and it keeps me from gaining too much weight. But even in the long term, exercise doesn't help my low energy at all.

Plus, I can't actually avoid exercise with a toddler and a house to clean.

I have not tried a neurologist. I wouldn't know what to say to a neurologist. In my experience, I have to know what to say, or else the doctor will blink at me as if he's entirely unsure why I'm there, and send me off without saying anything of substance. I have to at least start the doctor down the right path, or else he won't have any idea where to start. I've never had a doctor who could do all his own thinking. Except the one whose thought process led him to warn me against pseudo-science... I guess that was something... I guess.

So, what would I say to a neurologist?
Comment by Rich Lane on August 6, 2010 at 2:49pm
I was in the same boat until I dropped an absurd amount of excess weight and started working out. Now, I'm ticked if I don't get a workout in at least five times a week.
Comment by Guy Fawkes on August 6, 2010 at 2:36pm
You could try evaluating nutrition, exercise could help, as others have mentioned. Generally, I get depressed a lot which is what causes me to slow down. Being immobile just makes you more lazy. I'm too lazy to try much... If you're indoors a lot, try to get out. It helps me, especially getting out in nature.

Whats wrong with chiropractors? They have been a life saver for me. I have a bad neck though. No pain killer in the world can do what they do for me.
Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on August 6, 2010 at 7:55am
I have MS and deal with chronic exhaustion. I feel your pain. Exercising helps me healthwise, but it does nothing for my energy level. I mainly do it for weight control and the other beneficial effects. Funny, I go to the VA and they are constantly offering me anti-fatigue medication. I always refuse it because I have more than a sneaking suspicion these are legal uppers. I come from a family filled with addicts and I really don't want to join the happy throng, so I just deal with the exhaustion as best as I can. Have you seen a neurologist? Many chronic diseases like MS, fibromyalgia and other neurological illnesses have a component of chronic fatigue. Sometimes, it is the first or only symptom you may have.
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on August 6, 2010 at 6:07am
It could also be something else besides chronic fatigue syndrome (or maybe that is a general word for a number of things that could be making you tired?) I am a constantly low-energy person too. Some things that cause tiredness are hypothyroidism (I have to take a pill for that every day for the rest of my life, but the medicine is affordable) or anemia. Eating soy also makes me lethargic. I like to exercise and I don't know why I have to force myself to do it when I know it will make me feel better.
Comment by Jaume on August 6, 2010 at 3:59am
I second Louis' suggestion. I had the same problem, until I took the habit to walk, everyday, for at least 40 minutes. Try to keep a good pace.
Comment by Louis on August 6, 2010 at 3:12am
Have you tried exercise?

I used to be in your position but I was too skeptical for the woo peddlers and too broke to see an MD. I didn't start exercise to get me out of my slump, but it was a happy side effect.

Try going out for a walk/job every morning and see if it does anything for you. It was totally counter intuitive but morning workouts seem to get me pumped for the rest of the day.

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