I just ripped off two sticky notes from the bare wall of my study space, balled them up and trashed them. It means what was on there has been done. Later this evening, sticky notes will go up all over the wall, to remind me of stuff to do in the coming week. This may sound like what has been me, usually, but no…it is a new development.
When I was younger, I was the go-to-girl for all birthdays and anniversaries in the family. I remembered everything to the smallest detail. Growing up, it translated into other things, some very unpleasant, all linked to how retentive my memory was. Over the years, something had been happening that I only just realized. I put a lot of faith in ‘the power of my mind,’ I took a little too much pride in the eye I had for word detail and how that made me a good editor. I latched on to things I could claim as mine, things I could readily say I was skilled at. So when I started experiencing frequent fibrofogs, I moved from denial, to full-blown panic, in no time.
Some weeks back, my doctor asked me a series of questions, all of which I answered ‘No’ to, and all of which were related to my cognitive functions. Some of them made me laugh out loud and think, “are you kidding me?” Later, when I sat to think on the questions, I realized I hadn’t been truthful, and I wasn’t surprised I hadn’t. I am a very stubborn young woman.
Fibro fog – also known as fibromyalgia fog and brain fog – is a term commonly used for the cognitive difficulties that occur with fibromyalgia.
According to a 2015 review in Rheumatology International, some patients report that the loss of mental clarity can be even more devastating than the pain and fatigue associated with fibromyalgia. Fibro fog can manifest itself in different ways in different people but some of the most common symptoms include:
- short term memory loss
- misplacing objects
- becoming easily distracted
- forgetting plans
- difficulty carrying on conversations
- inability to remember new information
It has been hard to not feel like some of the things are all in my head, that they aren’t really happening, and that there is no need for me to do certain things differently, because making adjustments would only go to prove that I believe they are happening. But, more and more, I find myself in a confused mess, struggling to finish really simple tasks like scrolling through my contacts to find that person I want to text or call, taking my medication, or making sense of some things I read. It has taken me a while to call things what they are, and adjust my life so I am not more stressed than I get, thereby offsetting a vicious cycle. Ha! Just now, trying to remember some of the things I had to do that I forgot, I just remembered I promised to read a friend’s email on Friday. Here I am (where’s that sticky note?) lol! Oh boy.
I am learning to let go of my stubbornness and accept the changes that must come, for the sake of my comfort. Initially, I did not like the idea of getting sticky notes, keeping a log book to track new developments, and asking for help with things I’m used to handling on my own. But gradual adjustment is helping me, and reminding myself this is nothing serious, keeps me going. Truth be told though, recent difficulties have been harder to deal with than the pain and persistent fatigue. This past week, I kept zoning out of conversations, I started feeling guilty for my incoherence. And oh, I totally nailed my proposal presentation, but yuup, I completely forgot to add my Hypotheses in the slides, and that’s the most important part of the whole business. One of the faculty drew my attention and we all had a good laugh after I gasped in shock. Thankfully, I remembered them, and said them off the top of my head, whew! That went well.
I have a supportive family and loved ones, who are helping me cope, one day at a time. I have mad love for you all. Sticky notes are okay, crossword puzzles are okay, repeating things to myself over and over is okay, stopping to read this blog post’s paragraphs over and over is okay, it’s okay that I get too confused to carry conversations sometimes, that I’m becoming the queen of spoonerism or make errors that nearly stop my heart when I realize later, it’s okay, really. My not learning to not make a big deal out of them, and do things that will make me less stressed, is what is not okay.
And so, here’s to sticky notes, and fuzzy brains! lol. We shall overcome!