The Fog in My Mind

The Fog in My Mind

I love fog. I love its ghostly, gray-white color. I like the way it fills the air with cool dampness, surrounding, softening, and sometimes even obscuring everything around me. I love the different types of fog: mists that form visible, floating droplets of water in the air, and ground-fog, that knee-high stuff of dark forest paths and spooky graveyards. And don’t forget the high, white ocean fog that slips onshore to blur the tops of hills and buildings like low-floating clouds before slowly, silently sinking down to blot out the world. To me, fog is almost inexpressibly beautiful.

But I hate brain-fog.

I’m referring, of course, to the mental bumbles, stumbles, and sudden blanks so many of us who cope with rheumatoid disease (arthritis) put up with every day. Depending on which study you look at, brain-fog, or “cognitive dysfunction,” affects up to 71 percent of us. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. It’s what makes you put the milk in the cupboard and the salt in the freezer. It can leave you abruptly stranded anywhere, at any time, dazedly wondering what it was you were about to do. At work, brain-fog can completely erase the opening of that important presentation you’re about to give to the CEO and the board, leaving you babbling incoherently. Ever caught yourself gazing at your endless list of email correspondence without a clue as to where to start? Brain-fog.

As an artist and writer, I’ve always been the easily distractible and forgetful type. My mind is often elsewhere, exploring the landscape of my imagination instead of seeing to the task at hand. It drove my mother crazy when I was a kid. I’ve had to learn to compensate for it as an adult, writing myself lists and setting all my clocks and my wristwatch ahead by 12 minutes, religiously. But as far as I can tell, brain-fog as a symptom of rheumatoid disease has only become regular part of my life recently.

Great, Just what I need, right?

So you can imagine how frustrated I was when I was preparing to give myself my weekly biologic jab the other night. I’d gathered all the things I’d need to do it properly: a square of gauze, an alcohol wipe, and a teensy sticky bandage just in case I bled a little, all of them still in their sterile packaging. I had the automatic syringe pen with its exact dose of medicine out of the refrigerator, warming up to room temperature on my desk. And for the last 25 minutes I’d sat with an ice pack on my upper right thigh. It was now quite numb.

I was ready. I bared my frozen thigh and rubbed the injection area with the alcohol to sterilize the skin. When it was dry, I picked up the pen in my right hand. I stretched the skin on my thigh taut with my left hand and positioned the pen in the right place. Then I took a deep breath, blew it out, and pressed the button that would shoot the tiny, exquisitely sharp needle through the skin and into the subcutaneous fat beneath it, where it would release a precise dose of medicine.

It didn’t fire.

What? Oh, no! Was the thing a dud? That just couldn’t be! I took another deep breath, repeated the process, and pressed the button again.

Nothing.

After more than six months of self-injecting biologics, I’d come to pride myself on how deadly calm and laizzes-faire I could be during the whole process. I’d been injecting this particular drug once a week for four weeks, already. Sometimes it stung like liquid fire for several endless seconds, and I’d even steeled myself to that! No biggie!

But now I was rattled. If this was a dud pen, the hugely expensive medicine in it would go to waste. I’d have to get another one out of the fridge and go through the whole drug-warming, thigh-freezing, alcohol swabbing process all over again. I’d be a week ahead on my supply of the medication, and I’d have to arrange for an extra dose, somehow. Did they even do that? And of course, I’d have to regain my calm and resolve, wouldn’t I.

But first, I’d try it again. So I did, to no avail. I tried four more times after that, getting more and more agitated because my thigh was warming and if the bloody injector did finally fire, it was going to hurt like a you-know-what. But it never did.

I’ve always waited until just before bed to do the jab, thinking that it would make it easier if I could just crawl in and go to sleep afterward. You know, disperse the stress, harmlessly. But now, I was exhausted. Wearily, I re-read the paperwork on the drug. It was OK to leave it at room temperature for up to 14 days without spoiling. Fine, I thought. I’ll try it again in the morning. If it still doesn’t work, I’ll use a new pen. I dragged myself to bed.

After a bracing cup o’joe the next morning, I iced my thigh. I also decided to read the instructions for administering the injection again, even though I’d done it so many times before without incident. And there … oh, jeezly crow, there it was, the reason the pen hadn’t fired.

I hadn’t removed the cap. It’s very small and looks like a ring on the end of the pen. It protects the needle and prevents the mechanism from firing by accident.

Heh. I swabbed, pulled the cap off, positioned the pen, and pressed the button. The needle fired and the auto-injector pushed the drug into my body. I hissed as it burned a little, waited 15 seconds, and removed it. Put the wee sticky bandage on over the pin-sized drop of welling blood. Done for another week.

Of course, I blame this whole embarrassing incident on the brain-fog caused by my RD. If it hadn’t been for that, surely I’d have remembered to take that cap off, right? It’s very possible. The studies regarding how RD inflammation is responsible for cognitive dysfunction prove that we’re not just imagining it. We’re not just using “brain fog” as an excuse for missing appointments or forgetting where we put the car keys when we got home last night. It really does make it harder to concentrate, focus, and remember things, from the unimportant (didn’t I pick up a can of chili at the store?) to the vital (taking the correct dose of corticosteroids on schedule).

There are a number of scientific reasons for it. My colleague and fellow RD advocate and writer Andrew Lumpe discusses those here. He includes a long list of credible sources, as well, should you want to do more reading on it. My reference list, below, is shorter, but you’re welcome to it.

RD brain-fog may make my existing air-headedness worse, but it’s not like I don’t have any experience dealing with it. And I’m pretty good at learning my lessons so I can avoid repeating the same mistakes. Considering everything I have to remember each day–including taking 12 RD drugs and supplements every morning and night–I think I do pretty well in spite of it. Brain-fog can be challenging and sometimes embarrassing, but I can handle it.

Does RD brain-fog affect you, too? How? I’d love it if you’d share your stories with us in the comments below.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3744877/
  2. http://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/just-head-impact-ra-mental-functioning/
  3. http://www.rheumatologynetwork.com/articles/cognitive-impairment-ra-significant

Comments

View Comments (45)
  • JoyThomas
    1 year ago

    Today was horrible for me. I haven’t been sleeping well due to constant pain. Last night I had 30 minutes of sleep. The night before I actually got 3 hrs. I had a lot of running around to do today. Tracfic was a nightmare, I couldn’t focus at all. I knew once I was out in it that I had no business driving this day. I live in a fairly large city. I ran three red lights, nearly got hit by a fire truck. I’ve had a constant brain foggy headache for days now.

  • Wren moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi, JoyThomas,
    How awful that must have felt, driving around a busy city in heavy traffic with brain fog, lack of sleep, and a headache! I hope that you can resolve your sleep problems soon. Have you spoken to your rheumatologist about it?
    I hope the posts that Lauren Tucker directed you to have helped some. Wishing you sweet dreams, a clear mind, and no headaches! Thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    1 year ago

    Oh JoyThomas, so sorry to hear all that has happened to you today. We are glad you came here to express your feelings and frustrations about your day too. I know many community members talk about pain and how to manage. I thought I’d share this article with you as I know it has been helpful to many- https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/community-feedback-combatting-ra-pain-and-stiffness/
    I really hope you get some sleep soon, I know it must be hard to get through the day to day with being on such little sleep- I thought Kelly’s article might resonate with you, as she does provide some good tips too- https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/sleep-troubleshooting/
    I am hoping your day and weekend ahead gets better. Know, I am thinking of you. Please reach out to us anytime and keep in touch. Gentle Hugs, Lauren (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • JoyThomas
    1 year ago

    Thank you Lauren for your comment. I need to get control over this soon. I may go buy a really small note book and keep it in my purse. Make lists, check them off when completed. Whatever it takes to keep myself on track.

  • mcadwell
    2 years ago

    Once I was driving around completely lost. I was hoping I’d see something that looked familiar. My husband called my cell phone and asked where I was. Apparently I was really late getting home after work. I was panicking and told him I didn’t know where I was. He asked me to describe something nearby so I did. As soon as he told me the name of the business everything came back to me and I was able to drive home. That scared me. I’d lived in this city for over 10 years at that point.

    My son and I would go to rent some videos. I pick up one and tell him this movie looked interesting. He’d tell me that we had just rented it the prior weekend and watched it together. This happened more than once.

    All the time, time seems weird. I can’t seem to get a grasp on it. I’d look at the calendar and realize a holiday was coming up but I’m always surprised when it’s the next day. Even though I look at the calendar everyday the holiday doesn’t get any closer until it’s right now. It’s like I get stuck at a certain time. Right now it should be the beginning of June but it’s the middle of September. I don’t know what happened to the rest of June, or all of July and August. I know I lived through those months, went to work, paid bills, etc. but it’s not quite real. It should still be June.

  • Wren moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi, mcadwell,
    Your stories about your experiences with brain fog touched my heart–and my foggy mind. I wondered as I read them if you’re getting enough sleep on a regular basis? Insomnia is so very common with RD–it’s at least as common as brain fog, and indeed, makes it worse. There are some very gentle, natural sleep aids, such as melatonin, that are available over the counter at your local drugstore. And if your brain fog continues, I hope you’ll talk to your rheumatologist or primary care provider about it. They may be able to help.
    I do hope this finds you with a much clearer mind, well rested, and feeling as well as possible. Thanks very much for sharing your experiences with us. 🙂

  • JoyThomas
    1 year ago

    It is so scary to feel that way. I’m sorry you went through that. I was actually thinking today that I might get a little note book (one that will fit in my purse) and log down things that I feel unsure about. Make a today list, check things off on it, etc.

  • Wren moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi, JoyThomas,
    YES! Sometimes the simplest things can help conquer and clear the fog away! I’ve started setting alarms on my smartphone’s clock app for all kinds of things: appointments, medication times, and holidays. I’m also using my computer’s calendar app (in addition to the wall calendar I keep in my kitchen!) more frequently. I can tell it to send me reminders and email notifications. Sometimes I feel sort of silly doing all that, but why not use the tools we have?
    Thanks for speaking up! 😀

  • Lirael
    2 years ago

    I found this article on brain fog reassuring. I have recently had some embarrassing moments with family members, for example, asking if they’ve had medical tests which they have previously told me the results of. Once they repeat this information, it all comes crashing back. It makes me feel stupid. This has got worse since my diagnosis 7 months ago. It’s aggravated by poor sleep.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Lirael,
    Poor sleep and insomnia can definitely cause brain fog or make it worse. It’s an aggravating symptom, isn’t it? I hope you’ve been getting better sleep lately. Have you talked to your rheumatologist about it?
    Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I’m glad that the article reassured you. You certainly aren’t alone! 🙂

  • Francie
    2 years ago

    The timing of this subject that I first found today is phenomenal… and sad! It’s 4:30 pm and it took a fellow Facebook post to remind me it’s my youngest child’s birthday today!! He is 28 today and is in college in Oregon. He was raised here in Washington State…
    I was just talking to him a few days ago, making plans to drive down and see him this Tuesday thru Friday. Never even crossed my mind it would be his birthday soon.
    I hurriedly phoned him just now, he is the baby of the family and I have never forgotten any family members birthday. He said it was okay, he tried to hide it, but I heard it in his voice. Not just a the disappointment, but worry and concern for me. This brain fog sucks so bad. So far it’s been having to search for the right words in mid speech. Or using the wrong frequently.Short term memory is shot. List making and journaling at the end of my day is essential.. I have had RA for 9 years and this last few months it came on suddenly, felt like overnight. First noticed around Thanksgiving.. was getting ready to watch the Seahawks with my husband. He says “well, I hope we get a win after last week’s loss” I looked at him, surprised by his comment. They haven’t lost yet! I exclaimed. He said. Yes, they lost last week, you were sitting on the couch next to me the whole time! Now that a pretty big deal to forget and is a huge block of time!! That’s when I knew for sure it was a problem. Up until then, I passed off the little forgetfullness, maybe age or stress I thought.. but it has gotten so bad so quickly. It has been embarrassing and worrisome. Not knowing the right word causes anxiety.. but today it was just sad and heartbreaking…. my sweet, kind and thoughtful child, my baby of the family. and his mother forgot his birthday.. tears are pouring as now this is starting to affect my family too.. thanks for listening

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Francie!
    I’m sorry you almost forgot your youngest’s birthday, but here’s what’s important: you didn’t. You called him and talked to him, and he knows you love him. Even more important is that even if you had really forgotten and had to wish him a happy belated birthday, he’d understand. Pain, loss of sleep, and the meds we take for RD can all contribute to brain fog. You are absolutely not alone.
    I’m so glad you read the article and that it helped you feel not so alone. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experience. I hope this finds you feeling a lot better. 🙂

  • Lauren Tucker moderator
    2 years ago

    We are here for you Francie. Sorry to hear that this happened to you. Brain Fog is a common symptom, and you are not alone. This article might resonate with you: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/brain-fog-and-the-luddite/

    Reach out to us anytime.
    Best, Lauren (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team Member)

  • Susan Owens
    2 years ago

    This is my first post…have been a reader of all the wonderful info on this site. This topic caught my eye and I had to respond. I have developed ‘brain fog’ for the last year. I have RA and fibro for the last 15 years. I mainly forget what my family tells me…if it’s a conversation I took part in, a TV show I watched, but mainly changes in my husbands work schedule. I also go to speak and can’t think of the correct to use despite it being a very simple word. My family tries to be patient but it gets old. He has printed out his schedule for me but if there are change, I don’t remember them. If we are invited out with a few couples on a Friday night, I don’t remember. This causes chaos between my family and myself. They feel I just don’t pay attention. Since being diagnosed with RA, I had a stroke to my artery that affected the vision to my right eye. I was already blind in my left. In am an RN so I am on disability. I often wonder if it is because I am stuck in the house almost 24/7. My mom also passed away from complications of Alzheimers and am afraid my symptoms are related to that. My rheumy brushes that topic off. My PCP gave me a small questionnaire and I passed it. So I feel like maybe I don’t pay attention. My pain is pretty high at times and I have gained a lot of weight since being on prednisone for 4 years. That has been the only thing that has helped. So brain fog…please go away! Sorry for spilling out my emotions and I thank you for listening. Something I guess I have to work on very badly

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Susan Owens!
    Please don’t be sorry for “spilling your emotions.” We all need a safe place to say how we feel, and the comment section here is a very good one.
    Brain fog can be so very frustrating. Whether it’s caused by RD, lack of sleep due to pain or discomfort, meds (such as prednisone, which I understand can cause insomnia), weight gain, it’s still brain fog and it causes all kinds of problems.
    I’ve been a scatterbrain since I was a kid–maybe it’s the “artistic” or “creative” personality? But because of it, I’ve had to learn coping mechanisms since I was a young adult or I’d never have been able to manage a career.
    I keep a pad of paper nearby, always, along with a pencil or pen. I find that the act of handwriting things I need to remember helps cement them in my mind. I also keep a calendar on the kitchen counter and write important dates down on it. When I remember (heh!) I do the same with my online calendar.
    There are lots of little things you can do to help yourself remember the important stuff. I wish you the very best of luck as you navigate the (foggy?) future. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, m’dear. I do love hearing from you. 🙂

  • agsides
    2 years ago

    I have RA and Fibromyalgia. The fibro is known to cause brain fog but I was amazed at how bad it got while I was on methotrexate. I’ve never felt so confused and stupid in my life. Horrid.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, agsides!
    I’m so sorry that MTX has caused you to feel so awful. It’s a powerful medication and helps so many people who have RD. I hope that as you continue to take it, the miseries will end and you’ll start to feel much better.
    Brain-fog is just plain frustrating.
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I do so appreciate hearing from you! 🙂

  • mes133
    2 years ago

    Adding a little post script to my previous post. My rheumatologist just told me (yesterday)that RA does not cause brain fog. She based this on a very current study. In my case not my RA meds either. Needless to say I am following up with my primary. Definitely a lot of misinformation goes around this disease! Just another gift from the disease that keeps on giving!

    Thanks for letting me rant.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, again, mes133!
    You’re welcome to rant right here whenever you want or need to. We all need an outlet for the frustration this disease can cause.
    Of course your rheumatologist may be right about brain fog not being a symptom of RD. However, there are so many of us out there that do deal with this problem every day–enough that even for this particular article, we’ve a fairly long list of fellow-foggers!
    Perhaps brain fog comes from the stress of dealing with daily pain and other symptoms? Perhaps it’s the price of maintaining active lives in spite of pain and malaise? And, of course, many of us do take meds that may cause foggy-headedness as a side-effect.
    Maybe your sleep habits need a close look?
    Whatever is causing it, brain-fog is frustrating. Keep believing in yourself, OK? Thanks for the update! 🙂

  • mes133
    2 years ago

    I was diagnosed in 2007 with RA. The ride has not been easy but what scares me most about this disease is the ‘brain fog’.

    The most recent incident was after my ‘big’ (monthly) shopping trip. Not to digress too much, I do a big shopping trip when I am feeling a bit more energetic. I have 2 freezers so that I can skip shopping when fatigue or pain are too overwhelming.

    Back to our story. On this trip , I had purchase a lot of proteins, chicken , steaks, etc. I was too tired to sort it all out that evening (sorting involves rewrapping, freezing) so decided to hold off until the next day.

    Ok, relaxing watching TV, decide I need something to drink. Hmm what is that on the counter? A 3 pound package of chicken thighs, How did I miss that? Ok fridge very full, rearrange some things, get the chicken in fridge, check counter clear? OK, good.

    Come back a couple hours or so later for additional ice tea.

    What’s that?! A 4 pack of yogurt is on the stove. Hmm how’d I do that? Is it still good? Still kind of cool, Ok, I’ll risk it. It goes into the fridge on top of another 4 pack of yogurt.

    Now here’s where it get’s a little scary. In the morning when I get up to get my coffee not only is there a different 4 pack of yogurt on the stove but a package of ribeye steaks. I have absolutely no memory of ever moving or touching the steaks. In fact I could swear I did the once over before I left the kitchen. Of course the steak was at room temperature so error on the side of caution throw that out (about $20).

    Not being able to stay in the moment and not recalling how I was so oblivious frightens me. I try to keep a sense of humor but it gets very frustrating and can get costly too. Leaving things out or putting them in the wrong place is one thing but I get a little nervous that I might do something dangerous while I am ‘fogging’.

    I try to minimize risks by having appliances that have auto shut off, pill organizers, and calendar alerts. However I am wondering if anyone has any other suggestions or helpful hints.

    Thanks!!

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, mes133!
    I absolutely get your consternation about RD’s “brain fog.” How frustrating and frightening it must have been to keep noticing foods you hadn’t put away–and that after being so pro-active, buying plenty for storage for those hard days.

    I absolutely have to keep a notepad near me. Phone apps, etc, are terrific if you remember to check them, but a physical paper pad and a pencil can really help. I find writing things down helps me remember them later–and of course, seeing my note frequently helps, too.

    Another thing: When I’m sleep-deprived, my brain fog is worse. I think this applies to anyone, but it’s something to keep in mind so maybe you don’t beat yourself up so much if you forget something.

    I’ve also found that brain fog seems to come and go. It seems like I’m just fine for long periods, and then, boom. If my head wasn’t attached … well, you get what I mean.

    Best of luck to you! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I so appreciate it!

  • RMK0722
    2 years ago

    Thank you both for the welcome and for the article link. I’ve been trying to educate myself and it’s great to have a website with SO much information, including the mental and emotional side effects of this disease.

  • RMK0722
    2 years ago

    I’m a 36 year old attorney and was recently diagnosed with extremely aggressive sero+ RA. I’m grateful for this website, especially for the articles and comments; it’s a comfort knowing there are people who truly understand how I feel. This is the first time I’ve ever posted anything on an RA site or support group, so I apologize for the lengthy post.

    As I said, I’m a 36 year old attorney. I’ve had joint pain in my right hand for years as well as back issues (even had surgery on my L5-S1 in 2011) but always chalked my hand up to taking SO many notes in school and then court, and my back to a car accident when I was young. In 2013, I started having pain in all of my joints: hands, shoulders, elbows, knees, FEET (oh the pain in my feet!!!) etc., but I just tried to keep chugging along. In 2014, I started getting what I now know are “flare ups” where for weeks at a time my shoulders, wrists, hands, and knees would swell and feel like fire was running through them if I moved. I was also always feeling extremely exhausted. In July 2015, I finally asked for blood work, including RF, and…my dr.’s office called and told me everything was good, no issues. So, I’m thinking, “WHAT is wrong me? Is work stressing me out so bad I’m feeling like this? Am I maybe depressed as my dr suggested?” I felt like I had turned into a lazy person who was always feeling sick or tired.
    In Feb 2016 I went to my PCP because I felt like my foot was literally broken, thinking this can’t be just nothing!!! After an x-ray, my dr asked me what happened when I went to see a rheumatologist after my RF+ bloodwork from July 2015. “Excuse me??? I was told my bloodwork was good!” Oops… they missed the positive RF (it tested at 27.) Needless to say, I then went to my 1st appointment with my rheumatologist. At that time (Feb 2016) my RF had increased to 107.7 and anti-CCP was >250. Since that time my RA dr & I have been trying to find the right “combo” of meds for me. My inflammation continued to increase with Humira (in addition to prednisone and DMARDs.) Finally, after 6 months of Enbrel, Plaquenil, and sulfasalazine (and enough vitamins to open my own store) my inflammation has not increased! Yay! A little light in the tunnel! But, I’ve had an extremely difficult time with side effects and an overall learning curve – my 1st Humira injection I did not let it sit out to bring it to room temp- HOLY@$*%!!! That HURT. Lesson learned. I had never heard of using an ice pack until reading this article. I’ve never heard of many RA side effects until coming across this site. I now realize why, within a span of a few weeks, my vision became so bad I’m no longer able to read paperwork, emails, or information on my computer or phone without glasses. I have had an even harder time in court…completely blanking on terms I’ve used daily for years; forgetting an important question to ask during cross-exam; at times stumbling through closing arguments, racking my brain for the statements and key points I had already carefully prepared. Ah, brain fog!!! Articles like these can be lifelines, or at least they have been for me. Knowing WHAT, WHY, and that I’m not the only one experiencing these things gives me some solace. So, I thank all of you for sharing your stories and experiences. It’s helped me tremendously, both physically and emotionally. Again, sorry for the LONG post… but it feels good to let it all out to someone who KNOWS.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, RMK0722 !
    I’m delighted that you’re finding the posts and articles, along with all the general, well-researched information–so helpful as you learn to treat and cope with your rheumatoid disease.
    I know how incredibly frustrating it can be. And I’m glad to hear that your inflammation–and hopefully, your pain and other symptoms–is finally under some control. It’s an ongoing effort, but well worth it.
    I hope you’ll be a regular visitor here at RheumatoidAthritis.net. I feel like I learn something new or something that gives me hope or comfort nearly every time I read it, myself. It’s good to know that we’re not alone in copng with this disease.
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really do appreciate it, and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. 🙂
    I hope this finds you feeling much better.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi RMK0722. Sorry to hear about the diagnosis and the problems getting it, but glad you have found a community that can provide information and support. Thought you might be interested in this article that provides some additional information on the impact of RA on mental functioning: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/just-head-impact-ra-mental-functioning/. As they say, information is power. Keep us posted on how you are doing. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    We are so grateful for you sharing your story here and glad that this article resonated with you. You have been through so much. So great to hear that you are finally feeling some relief and keeping the inflammation at bay! You are not alone here. Please keep us posted on how you are doing and let us know your questions, we’re here to support you. If you haven’t already, you may want to check out our Facebook page for additional dialogue and input from others in our community who understand. Thank you for being part of our community. Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Shan
    2 years ago

    Oh My Goodness! I am so glad I happened across this. I have been experiencing this for some time (although recently diagnosed with RA). Just this morning before reading this I was having a conversation and couldn’t remember key words to express myself properly.Frustrating, but now I can understand why. I’ve been reading all I can about RA, information is power right?! I feel a bit powerless against RA but I will get my footing. Thank you for sharing this so people like me don’t think we’ve lost our marbles. ALSO Wren, thank you for the beautiful way you write. I’m not a reader, BUT the way you write paints a picture for me, draws me in, and I’m retaining it. Blessings on you!!

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, Shan!
    Oh my goodness, you certainly haven’t lost your marbles! But it sure can feel like it when RD’s aggravating brain fog hits. And I believe that one of the best things that can happen to any of us who cope with RD is to be reassured that we’re not dealing with this disease alone. That there are others out there who know what we’re going through, understand it, and empathize totally.
    You’re so sweet to say such nice things about my writing, I’m getting all blushy! Blessings on you as well, Shan. And thanks so much for stopping by and putting in your two-cents-worth! 😀

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    So glad this resonated with you Shan and glad you’ve found our community. I hope that we can be a source of information and support. Good for you researching and educating yourself! Please let us know of any RA questions you have, we’re here to help! Thank you for being part of our community. Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • Homerthefox
    2 years ago

    I’m recently diagnosed and had no idea why I have been “lost in space” even more than usual. I thought perhaps I was tired because I haven’t been sleeping well due to the pain, and the fog in my head was just a side-effect. Then I thought maybe the unending tiredness, even when I sleep all weekend, was a side-effect of the pain – being in pain all the time really take a lot of energy. It doesn’t help that I have had ideopathic hypersomnia for years – thank goodness for my provigil. But when even that didn’t work, I knew something else was wrong. Thank you for sharing and letting me know I am not alone, and no crazier than usual.

  • Wren moderator author
    2 years ago

    Hi, HomertheFox!
    I’m so glad to know that reading my post helped you to feel less alone as you cope with rheumatoid disease and the brain fog that is so often one of its symptoms.
    I’ve noticed myself that when I don’t sleep well, the brain fog tends to be worse. This is something that happens to everyone, I think, no matter their health status, but I believe that RD makes it that much worse.
    Over the years I’ve learned to do things to help me remember the stuff I need to remember from day to day: I keep notepads handy and write it down. I use pillboxes with the each day of the week printed on them. I set alarms on my phone so I don’t forget to take said pills on time. And etc. I’m sure you also either do these things or have many others that work as well or better for you.
    RD is a constantly evolving, constantly challenging disease. Thank you for taking the time from your busy day to comment. I so appreciate it, and I hope this finds you well. 🙂

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    2 years ago

    Apologies for the delayed reply. Thank you for sharing! So glad that this article was helpful to you and reminded you that you are not alone in this. Sending positive thoughts your way for some relief soon. Let us know any RA questions you have, we’re here to help! Kelly, Rheumatoidarthritis.net Team Member

  • AprilFool79
    3 years ago

    Try being a college student with RA. I frequently lose words, and panic when that hits during an exam. I can use 15 other words to describe what I’m trying to say, but in my accounting classes, when things have to be labeled a certain way, that doesn’t work. I’ve received B’s or C’s on tests because I didn’t have my rows and columns on a table labeled with the correct word or phrase, even though I had something similar and all my calculations were correct. And while my school is fine with allowing me to use a tape recorder and a laptop for notes in class, there aren’t any accommodations they will provide to help counteract the brain fog (it looks like I’m just wanting to cheat). Which is bull, because once I get to my job I can have a cheat sheet notebook and sticky notes and pre-formatted files for all the nit-picky crap I have to remember.

  • Wren moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi, AprilFool79!

    Brain fog is hard enough to deal with in day-to-day situations; it must be terribly frustrating in college classes and during exams. Have you spoken with your professor and/or counselor/mentor about having RD and how its symptoms can affect you? If not, it may be worthwhile to do so–you might be able to arrange for some accommodations.

    I did a little research and found government website that can give you some information about your Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) civil rights as they apply to higher education:

    http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/transition.html.

    Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day to comment. Here’s wishing you the best of luck!

  • sweetannie
    3 years ago

    What happened to you would happen to me just as easily. I show up for doctor appointments on the wrong day all the time. I miss important dates with my friends all the time. And, trying to explain why it happens is almost impossible. I have blonde hair, so people sometimes think I am a “dumb blonde”. I let it go at that. It is just easier. Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed that I just say “whatever”. I can’t cope with all the responsibilty and need to just walk away from it. I do the best I can, try not to worry too much and get my beauty sleep.

  • Cathy at arthritiswisdom.com
    3 years ago

    Thanks for bringing up this topic! Just today I was admiring my husband’s ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine. I told him some of his strawberries were ready to be picked. He reminded there are no strawberries in his garden! My latest example!

  • scd2287
    3 years ago

    Thank you for this article!
    I’m still quite new to RA but pretty impressed by the brain fog. My mornings are no longer my productive, clear thinking time, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to put a clean dish in the fridge, or coffee in my 6 you son’s cup, or fed the dogs cat food and vice versa.
    I’m a health care provider and college professor so it’s terrifying! Luckily I’ve always been a bit forgetful but still managed to do my jobs well, so no one else is worried but me.
    My latest was asking my husband to mail an important form for me, when I’ d already mailed it.

  • Linda
    3 years ago

    I hate the brain fog moments! Some of them are funny but some are not. I really worry I will double up on my meds someday because I just flat forgot that I took them. I wish I could make my brain cooperate!

  • Christy
    3 years ago

    I had to laugh at this (& thank you for making me feel less alone)! I’ve put butter under the sink, opened wet cat food in the cupboard instead of the fridge, and have just forgotten where I’m driving countless times. These brain fog moments are funny, frustrating and embarrassing!

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Christy, Thanks for your comment. You are not alone. So many in our community can relate to this Brain Fog. Here is another article on Brain Fog https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/fog-lifting/ that may be interesting for you. Thank you for being part of our community and for sharing. Kelly Dabel – RHeumatoidArthritis.net Team Member

  • LindaJ
    3 years ago

    This made me feel better! The other day, after a long day at work, a colleague walked up to my passenger car window to ask me something. I smiled -hoping she would just open the door, but she stood there peering into the window. I had to take a few seconds to remember HOW to roll down the windows. I was frustrated and embarrassed.

    I appreciate having others share their stories of life with RA. RA has a lot more baggage than aching joints during changing weather.

  • Laurie Weldy
    4 years ago

    I am SO glad to hear I’m not getting Alzheimers……yet. My husband was sure I was. Since he suffered a stroke 3 1/2 yrs. ago, he still is afflicted with Aphasia and can’t talk. So, we were going to make an interesting couple!
    He is as relieved as I – thank you for bringing this to our attention and good luck with those shots. By the way, I was shooting Humira for over a year and learned that doing it in your stomach is WAAAAAY less painful than the thigh. Give it a try. I’m on Xeljanz now and it works better, plus you just take a pill. Same outrageous price, but no needle. I got into a clinical trial and those 2 drugs are paid for for up to 5 years. Check with your RA doctor – trial is nationwide. Good luck!

  • JS Stephens
    4 years ago

    Yes Wren, I know exactly how you feel! The same things have happened to me more & more lately too. In fact, I just took early retirement from work and this was one of the main reasons. I didn’t know what was happening at first with my brain, but it just got to that point…plus that I have been fighting this RA for 20 yrs. I cannot begin to tell you how much I LOVE not having to live by an alarm clock anymore, BUT then there’s the problem of how to live financially! I appreciate you sharing this brain fog symptom!!

  • Anke Schliessmann
    4 years ago

    Hi Wren,
    I think I know what you mean. I do have a similar problem – and I hate it. Recently I got a little bit of relief since I take 1200 mg of soy lecithin every day. I do pause every time the package is empty for some weeks, but as soon as the brain fog comes again I’ll start again. This was a tip from the nice MS patient who shared the room with me at my recent stay in hospital in January.

    Two weeks ago I was even able to attend a very compressed training and passed the exam for certification right after – not with the best result, but I passed :-). I need this certification for my job and was very afraid prior to the exam if I could pass or not.

    With warm hugs
    Anke

  • Polly
    4 years ago

    Hi Wren,

    I cannot tell you how often I’m at work, click on the internet to look something up and then can’t remember what I was looking for! I’d blamed it on the methotrexate but that doesn’t always fit with when it happens. I shall have to have a look at Andrew’s post and find out more!

    Hugs from across the pond,

    Polly

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