Health Update

A few of you who’ve been around here for a few years will have noticed that I’ve not been able to blog as much over the last year or two as previously (shamefully I’ve even missed my Patreon target occasionally, though I hope the free books and so on made up for that). I’ve committed to writing blog posts that then haven’t been written, and I’ve not been as clever as I was.
The reason for that is that, sometime in the last three to five years, my health changed dramatically. I got a variety of stress-related illnesses I’d not had before, and while changing jobs lowered my blood pressure, I’ve remained permanently fatigued. I’ve long thought that was just because I was overworked, but… I’m going to be frank here, the exhaustion has been so bad that for much of the last few months I have actually wished for death, because being this tired is unbearable.
I assumed until recently that the fatigue was because of my sleep conditions (one incurable, the other being treated with CPAP), but apparently it isn’t…
I also, around three years ago, developed an intermittent bad back, which sometimes makes it impossible to stand upright for more than two minutes at a time — I’ve occasionally had to *crawl* upstairs to bed, because I’ve been unable to walk.
I went to the doctor about this, and was seen by a doctor other than my normal GP. She prescribed me paracetamol and told me that the problem was that I was too fat and I should walk more to lose weight.
Last year I developed what I thought was RSI, which again comes on only intermittently, but makes it agony to type when it does. I did some things to make my workspace slightly more ergonomic, and hoped that would work long enough that speech-to-text would be usable and I wouldn’t have to lose my livelihood.
Then, about six months ago, my feet started to swell up, and the soles of my feet became intensely painful. And my right shoulder started to hurt if I raised my arm more than slightly.

Anyway, it turns out (I had this confirmed at a hospital appointment yesterday) that all those are symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. For the last several years, I have had arthritis and just been thinking I’m a bit tired and achy. This is why back in 2010 or so I could, in a typical week, work sixty hours at my day job, write ten thousand words of usable stuff, and campaign for five or six hours on the Saturday, while in a typical week now I do thirty-five hours at the day job, most of them in a near-narcoleptic daze, write two blog posts, one of them an apology for not having written something else, and bow out of a Lib Dem event because I’m too tired. I have huge piles of unread comics and magazines, some dating back literally years, because even reading Daredevil or something can be too taxing for me.

However, it turns out that psoriatic arthritis is one of the more treatable types. It may turn out to be a while before we find the right treatment for me (and I won’t be able to start treatment until January, for a variety of reasons) — and annoyingly the first treatment they want to try might make the fatigue *worse*, not better — but I now have the prospect of this getting better *eventually*. There may be a point where I’m not exhausted, one day.

This might also — no promises — mean that I get back to regular posting, even before I start treatment. Now that I know that the tiredness is *not* lack of sleep, but an inflammatory response to overproduction of cytokines by an overactive immune system, I won’t be able to kid myself that “I’m too tired to write a post today, but maybe I’ll be less tired in the morning, so I’ll do it then” (I know that’s a stupid thing to think, but my judgment has also been impaired. For years.) So I’ll be more likely to just think “I’m going to be this tired until at least January, so I’ll just *do it*”.

Bear with me. It may well be that this year is the lowest point that this blog ever reaches in terms of content. (That said, I don’t think I’ve done *too* badly, productivity-wise, this year — I’ve released a novel, a non-fiction book that’s twice the length of any of my previous ones, and a booklet on Grant Morrison, and written tens of thousands of words on Batman…). Next year I may be back to who I was in 2010…

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3 Responses to Health Update

  1. Wow, really sorry to read all of that, but I’m glad that at least now you have the prospect of getting some proper treatment. I’m getting fed up with hearing about misdiagnosis by GPs (or non-diagnosis, come to that).

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Thanks. My main GP has actually been very, very good. The locum GP who I saw about my back was useless, but the non-diagnosis of the fatigue makes sense. I’ve been suffering from depression (probably also exacerbated, or even caused, by the overactive immune system that causes the arthritis, and so that will hopefully also be improved by the treatment), anxiety, sleep apnoea (now being treated), and what I’m convinced is delayed sleep phase syndrome, for several years, so I would naturally be tired *anyway*. I just didn’t realise there was another thing *on top of all those* causing me to be fatigued…

  2. Mike Taylor says:

    Well, taking that all together, this seems like good news. I hope you’ll let us know how it goes. Meanwhile, your blog has continued to be well worth reading through the last year — one of relatively few that I make a point of keeping up with.

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