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CHOICES - page 21
CHAPTER FIVE - FATIGUE (continued)
        If confusion and changes in ability to think are not reduced by rest, something else may be wrong. One possibility is hypercalcaemia, which is caused by too much calcium in the blood. Your doctor can check your blood calcium levels with a blood test. If you're constantly confused and thirsty, and urinate frequently, ask your doctor to check for hypercalcaemia.
        Remember that as you do less, your caregiver must do more. His or her fatigue must also be considered in your schedule. Set aside time for your caregiver to relax. Find ways to lessen the energy required for everyone's chores. This may mean asking someone to help with cleaning or yard work, or it may simply mean that you approach tasks creatively.
        Friends and relatives may be eager to help but at a loss about what they can do. Let them mow the lawn, pull weeds, clean the house and go to the grocery store. You and your caregiver will have more time to relax together, and your friends and family will have the satisfaction of "doing something."
        Find ways to conserve energy. Instead of carrying your baggage onto the plane, check it at the curb. Get a handicapped parking tag so you can shorten the walk to the theater,
the mall or business appointments. Use a wheelchair to tour the museum instead of walking.
        Each of these changes in the way you do things represents a choice. You may choose to tour part of an exhibit on your feet rather than see everything from a wheelchair. It is important, however, for you to realize that you have choices. "Reduced energy" is not the same as "no energy;" changing how you do things is not the same as giving up the activities that give you pleasure.
        Most cancer centers have pamphlets about fatigue because this it a side effect of many treatments as well as a symptom that the cancer is spreading.

Public Image
        Many of the suggestions for dealing with fatigue represent a public, although unspoken, statement that you are "less able" than you were. It is hard psychologically to sit in a wheelchair when you have been active. Letting someone do your chores or having your co-workers take over your work is hard to accept. Talk to your doctor, your family, the cancer center social workers and other patients about these losses and your options.

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <http://www.phoenix5.org>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <www.phoenix5.org/infopolicy>.