All About the Brain Fog, All Trouble
"What the h*ll are string beans?” I tilted my head at my friend.
“You know, like green beans”
I just shook my head. “You’re gonna have to write it down for me because I have NO idea what you’re saying right now.”
For me, this was brain fog at its worst. Of course, I knew what string beans were but at that specific moment in time, my friend could have been speaking in a foreign language.
Brain fog: Not a "valid" symptom?
I can’t go to my physician and say “I can’t think straight” to which he responds “Oh yes, that’s a side effect of XYZ medication.” Brain fog is not a side effect of medications, apparently, it's not even considered a symptom at all! It's real, though, very real. Add extra pain, fatigue and, forget about it, I won’t remember my pets’ names. Though, I did come dangerously close to forgetting my own a few times.
There was a period after school (granted, this was during the time my RA was least controlled) where I couldn’t read, I couldn’t understand anything and I couldn’t speak to anyone older than five. I honestly thought I was getting dumber and it was scary. I tried Sudoku, I tried crosswords, I tried brain teasers and nothing helped (I used to love those logic math problems – but I had no hope of figuring those out).
One day, I realized, “wait a minute, this doesn’t make sense…Loads of people don’t go onto graduate degrees, many don’t even go to college and they don’t lose their mental acuity. This isn’t normal.”
I, of course, ran to my rheumatologist and yelped “help!”. It was one of the few times he couldn’t; the weird film I had over my largest muscle wouldn’t disappear until my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms were better controlled.
As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t call in sick due to “not remembering how to form a sentence.” I still had to work, present myself, and talk to people.
What was I going to do about this brain fog thing? Big ticket activities like crosswords and logic problems were not helpful.
I had to start small
I read books I already read before. I wrote in a journal about everything and nothing. I expanded my vocabulary. I chose a word, any word, and listed as many synonyms as I could.
I was surprised by how much this helped me. These activities focused my mind so there wasn’t so much fluff and they worked it just like any other muscle.
It reminded me strongly of going to physical therapy. I had to work my way back to the larger more difficult exercises by doing the smaller ones first.
A little help
Sure, I couldn’t control my brain fog but I could help my noggin (I really wanted to use this word in a sentence before the end of the article!!) out of the dark abyss. After all, the brain is a muscle, a very important one that controls the entire body and just like any other part it’s important to treat it well.
Do you suffer from brain fog? How do you combat it? Let me know in the comments!!
Has having RA put a hold on your ambitions?