I want to address the topic of Fibro Fog. Not all survivors of Fibromyalgia experience this, or, if they do, not every day. Unfortunately, some of us do experience this problem daily. I remember when it first started occurring to me. I felt like I was having “senior moments” in my thirties. I have always had better than average intellect, I think this is due in large part to growing up in a family where reading was our main entertainment and dinner conversations generally centered around my professor father’s research. When my brain starting going blank, I was scared and felt like everyone judged me for not being able to keep up in our conversations.
About three years later, I returned to college, then university, for ten straight years, and my brain fog mostly disappeared. I was able to track the days when it resurfaced, but, there was not much I could do about it. Those late night, 15 page papers took a huge amount of brain power, and subsequently I would experience a brain drain or Fibro Fog. Finals week and the build up to finals were probably the worse. Thankfully, I knew that this was trigger for my fog and began my preparations for these weeks as much in advance as possible.
This didn’t always help. There are always unexpected events that brought my Fibro Fog. There are ways I have learned to handle it when it arrives. During school, I worked with the disabled students counselors. This often allowed me to take a final the day before or the day after the others in my class. If I went into a final and was experiencing the “fog”, I slowed down, way down. I looked back over my answers when I finished. I was always over-prepared for the final! This was a double-edged sword. It meant I exerted more energy prior to finals week, risking Fibro Fog, but the risk paid off in knowing that somewhere inside the sludge of my thoughts, I knew the answers.
I know have post concussion syndrome (PCS), which took my short and some long-term memories off-line since December, 2012. I often wonder if I also have Fibro Fog again. I think the answer is yes, I do. They are different in how they present in my life. With PCS the memory is just gone. I struggle to find it, often I can’t. My word usage is not foggy, it is odd. Until about two months ago I could not find the word or the sentence at all. I searched my brain to no avail. I can now find a word that pops up, it is not “the” word I need but it is in the same area. When my Fibro Fog hits I feel confused about everything! Similar to experiencing an increase in pain, or a flare, I can feel it coming on. PCS is just always there.
I can’t do anything about PCS but wait and hope. With Fibro Fog I can continue to use the method of keeping my routine the same every morning. I am a morning person, so all those small chores are done in spurts throughout the morning and by early afternoon I tackle my one big chore that is my chore of the day (use the “search” for Organizing, ADL’, Alternatives, and Preparing posts). With my routine in place, when Fibro Fog hits, I still remember what I am supposed to that morning and everything is already where it belongs. I may still forget to put the milk back in the refrigerator or forget to make an important phone call.
The article above from “Arthritis Today” discusses what may cause our cognitive problems. It discusses activity and sleep as vital to decreasing this problem. In my discussion about my life, these ideas make sense to me. When I was attending school I was very active, too active! I also tended to get my three hours in a row due to sheer exhaustion. Eight hours would have been perfect, but that is too much to ask of a Fibromyalgia survivor. The more I research my condition, the more I see direct connections to what I have, what the experience of pain levels and Fibro Fog were in relation to exercise and sleep, and my beliefs about what medications have helped me and what have not.
Time to go get active
Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Advisor