Monday, 4 July 2011

Brain Fog

One of the annoying symptoms of lupus is "brain fog".  At one stage when this was bad - I bought a puzzle magazine and couldn't do any of the puzzles, my kids tried to teach me to play "Animal Crossing" and I couldn't even read the map (a game designed for primary-school kids).
A week later, after a bit of sleep, and some concentration exercises, I did the whole puzzle magazine in under an hour - and I found "Animal Crossing" a cute little kids' game instead of a major frustration.

So what is it like to have brain fog?  Imagine you're me for a little while.

You've woken up and are walking towards the kitchen to make your breakfast. The dog and cat appear from somewhere and wrap themselves around your feet, and look up at you hopefully. What do they want.  Woof woof, meow, meow.  There's something they want. Of course. They need to be fed. What do you need to feed them? Can opener. You open the drawer with the can opener.  What are you looking for in the drawer? You're in the kitchen for some reason. Maybe it's to get a coffee. You take a teaspoon out of the drawer, then stand holding it, trying very hard to think of whatever else it is you need to make a coffee.  Woof woof, meow meow. "Oh hi boys, do you want your breakfast? I'll get it for you now." The cans of pet food are in the laundry, you go there. What are you doing in the laundry? You get the towels out of the dryer and take them back to the lounge room to fold. You feel hungry, why? Surely you had breakfast? You can't remember whether you did or not.  And the animals are following you everywhere, what could they want?

I don't get brain fog often. But I've learned some strategies to deal with it. The first is to write everything down - lists, lists and more lists. If it's not crossed off the list, it hasn't been done, I don't have to rely on remembering. The other strategy is to try to avoid brain fog in the first place - brain exercise: writing, doing puzzles, reading. Brains work like muscles in this instance - use it or lose it. (But like muscles, they get fatigued, and mine needs lots of sleep as well.)

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