One of the most annoying symptoms of fibromyalgia has been the “fibro fog” or “brain fog” that (I feel) is getting worse as time passes. Common symptoms of fibro fog include:
* short term memory loss
* difficulty remembering where you left something
* difficulty remembering plans
* difficulty with language, including trouble holding conversations, understanding conversations, and expressing thoughts
* difficulty finding the “right” word (written or spoken)
* trouble remembering simple numbers (addresses, home phone number, PINs, etc)
* difficulty following directions, instructions, and maps
* transposing or reversing letters and numbers
* trouble concentrating and focusing (particularly when it comes to multitasking)
* trouble retaining new information
* trouble recalling old information
I’m frustrated with this more than I’m frustrated by the physical symptoms, because I used to be proud of my ability to articulate and communicate, as well as my ability to multitask and utilize forethought. The written word is easier to manage, since I can spend as much time as I need to on a post, and go back to edit; however, conversations take on a whole new meaning, since I mix up words and can’t get words out, sometimes.
I can’t even imagine how annoying it must be to have a conversation with me where I’m asking you to “hand me that thing over there next to the other thing so I can do this thing with it.” I remember being irritated with my mom in the past when she’d say similar things. I can’t help but wonder if she had fibro fog while I was growing up (she often talks about aches and pains and poor sleep), but I always blamed it on her night shift work and poor communication skills. My poor mum.
Fibro fog has affected several of my favorite activities, from cooking and baking (because I lack the forethought to adapt recipes to make them my own, or create a new dish, and I often leave out or make mistakes with ingredients and steps when I try to follow a recipe to the letter), to writing (I get distracted quickly, after 200 words or so, and lose my train of thought when I try to leave myself notes and come back to the project), to crafts (I keep starting projects and forgetting them when I start something new: so far it’s been sewing and knitting I’m saddest about), to visiting new areas and trying new places (I can’t keep the places straight, and when I try to maintain a running list of “things I’d like to do,” I lose the list, even when it’s electronic). I really love playing Words With Friends on my iPhone (it’s like Scrabble), but I’m really not any good at high point words, or complex words. I figure it’s good brain exercise to play at all, and it’s fun (even when I’m getting my butt kicked), so I’ll just pretend like my brain isn’t turning to swiss cheese).
Fibro fog also affects important activities of daily living, like when it comes to remembering medication (I’ve forgotten I’ve already taken my Advair and take a second dose sometimes) and vitamins (time passes quickly, so I lose track of it), or I forget I’ve already put deodorant on and put it on a second (or third) time, or brush my teeth a second time.
Fibro fog is also why I haven’t posted much lately. I keep forgetting. Even when I have a great post idea, I’ll send myself an email or make a sticky note as a reminder, and then it gets buried under other emails or sticky notes, and then eventually I get overwhelmed and trash all the unanswered emails or sticky notes, and trash them all and start fresh. Rinse, lather, repeat.
The newest Really Annoying Habit I’ve got is that I get upset because I can’t find something that I *know* is nearby, I look all over a small area for it (like the coffee table or in the refrigerator) over and over again, and finally ask someone, exasperated, where the lost item is, only to find out it’s literally directly in front of me, next to or on top of something I distinctly remember seeing and acknowledging, but I swear that remote control was NOT THERE when I was looking furiously for it a second ago. My husband (and friend living with us) are extraordinarily patient, since they haven’t said a word about this Really Annoying Habit. Aren’t they wonderful? I’m so lucky. :)