Keep Smilin’ with Rosie Preston – Don’t let fatigue drag you down


I sometimes wonder if other people my age have reached the point of planning a list each night to accomplish the next day. This habit, however, goes back many years.

I’ll never forget when I was so sick with mononucleosis. My daughter was also sick with mono, and at that time I didn’t know it was contagious. I was so physically exhausted that I could fall asleep anywhere. I was waiting for my children to come out of the school door one day when I heard the car behind me honk her horn. Apparently, the lady was reminding me to move forward. It was rather embarrassing.

I love to sleep late, for the simple reason that during most of my life, I was awake at 5:30 a.m. and started a day that often found me not going to bed until around 10 p.m. It wasn’t hard for me to get up early the next day since I was wide awake and ready to go after jumping into the shower.

When I was growing, up my mother would always stay up late to watch TV. I went to bed around 8:30 p.m. When I woke up the next morning, I woke up my mon, who then commenced to wake my younger sisters, which was not always easy because she allowed them to stay up late as well.

At my current age, it is a luxury to stay up late and watch TV, as my eyes may be too tired to read. Many years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic dry eye. The condition has changed my life, as I use prescription eye drops every morning and every night. The drops sometimes burn for a while, and it is impossible to see anything for about five minutes.

When I first wake every morning, I use the eye drops and get back in the bed to do my “bed” exercises, which consists of staring at my toes and using restraint with my muscles and slow count to 60 seconds until I move up to my ankles and my calves. I think you get the picture! I would love for all of you to do this exercise, as it is a way to warm up our bodies before we start our day.

As I’m exercising, I’m considering in what order I will accomplish my daily chores. Sadly, I often do not get all my “wanna do’s” done. Yesterday was a prime example of why I did not do much around the house. The weather was beautiful, and the temperature was perfect for sitting in my favorite lawn chair on our deck and observing nature. There are only trees to be seen from that position, and I’ve often seen a few rabbits and squirrels taking advantage of the woods.

It makes me smile when I think about what my son asked me one morning as I was leaning my elbows on the kitchen counter. He laughed and pointed to my list.

“Do you really have to write, ‘take a shower?”

“Yes, I do,” I answered.

It often happens that when someone become ill with an autoimmune disease, the disease remains in that person’s body, after which flare-ups begin. Any kind of infection will put you down instead of you being able to get up and get things done until you feel better. It is impossible to fight it. I call it “crashing” because holding your head up is near impossible.

Several years after she had mono, my daughter developed Transverse Myelitis, which is an inflammation of the substance in the spinal cord and bone marrow. She fell on the floor and could not move. She was checked in from the ER at UAB Hospital in Birmingham and was told that she would never walk again. This was during a time when everyone we knew – and even some strangers – were praying for her. The doctors said if she learned to stand, they could teach her to walk, and that’s exactly what happened.

Not too long ago while my daughter was visiting, she brought up the fact that she never quit praying. I told her that I shed a million tears but not one in front of her. I waited until I was in the hall after leaving her room and then cried hysterically. I must have driven home on auto pilot until the day my daughter was able to stand. She then went to Pain Rehab and learned to walk again. However, she has been disabled since that time and has never worked again. She was not one to stay down, though, and she soon began making soap and painting, and designing glass soap dishes and small gift bowls.

The hardest part of living with chronic fatigue is that you do not look sick. I remember many times someone telling me as much, and it always baffled me. I’m still living with this condition. The first thing I told Phil after we met was that I had an immune disease. I did not want him to think I was lazy during the times when felt exhausted and not being able to function. Luckily, Phil is a good man who caters to me and knows me well enough to know that on my energetic days, I usually overdo it and suffer the day after.

When it seems that there are hundreds of things to do on my list, I ‘ve learned to settle down and take it easy. I often forget that I no longer have to be at work at a certain time and do not have to watch the clock anymore. In fact, the last job I had was wonderful. When I was interviewed, I told Rish Wood at TV News Shopper about my illness and that I could not work regular hours. He told me that I more than made up for it on my good days! Those words lightened my heart and mind, because I was a salesperson and wrote an article every week. I started working there in September of 1998, and I owe my love of writing to Rish.

When I interviewed for the position, I took a couple of my articles that had been published in this very newspaper, The Messenger. I believe that contributed toward my ability to write, even though Rish told me he was more impressed with me selling advertising.

I also met my best friends there in my co-workers Gail Keeling, Jamie Carlton and Jan Lewis (who has since passed away). Gail, Jamie, and I may go months without talking, but the friendship we developed has survived the test of time!

Keep smiling, Rosie 

Contact Rosie Preston  at      

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