Fatigue is considered extreme tiredness from mental or physical exertion or illness. Everyone starts with a different level of energy, so a BMT will affect each patient differently. Many patients take months to up to a year to recover physically and mentally from their transplant. Even after that, life might not return to the “normal” level you had experienced before your transplant. You may find that you need to permanently change your lifestyle to prevent fatigue, avoid infections, and cope with the long term effects of treatment.

During your recovery, you will feel fatigued and tired. You will have decreased appetite. It will take time to regain your strength, stamina, and ability to participate in daily activities. Recovery varies from person to person.

The time after your transplant is a time for cell recovery and growth of your new cells and the healing of the normal cells affected by the chemotherapy and radiation. This growth and recovery requires calories and energy, and might explain why you feel more tired than you anticipated.

Signs and symptoms of fatigue

  • Tired eyes
  • Tired legs
  • Whole-body tiredness
  • Stiff shoulders
  • Decreased energy or lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weakness or malaise (discomfort/uneasiness)
  • Boredom or lack of motivations
  • Sleepiness
  • Increase irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Impatience

Recommendations

  • Exercise daily. Walking is an excellent way for you to regain strength and stamina.
  • Evaluate your level of energy. Keep a diary for 1 week to identify the time of day when you are either most fatigued or have the most energy. Note what you think might be contributing to your fatigue.
  • Be alert to your personal warning signs of fatigue. Each person may have different signs of fatigue.
  • Plan ahead, organize, and prioritize your daily activities. Decide what activities are important to you and delegate other tasks/activities when needed. Combine activities and simplify details.
  • Schedule rest. Balance rest and work. Rest before you become fatigued.
  • Pace yourself. A moderate pace is better than rushing through activities.
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
  • Manage stress. Adjust expectations and ask others for support and help.
  • Talk to your health care provider. Fatigue is not always just a side effect of your transplant, it can indicate other medical issues. Please let your health care team know if you have any of the following symptoms
    • Increased shortness of breath with minimal exertion or at rest
    • Uncontrolled pain
    • Inability to control side effects from treatment (for example nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
    • Ongoing depression
    • Uncontrollable anxiety or nervousness