Memory loss, cognitive difficulties, Fibro fog……. Is it a real issue?

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Where did I leave my keys?
Why did I walk in this room?
What is that word?
I forgot your birthday?
I forget when that is…..

We all have experienced these questions, at least once. On some days, this seems to be all we end up doing! It definetly seems there are days that we are asking ourselves many questions and walking around in a fog.

Fibro Fog. Actual cognitive issues related to fibromyalgia.

What is fibro fog?

It is a feeling that you are in a daze, can not remember the simplest things.
You have memory loss and may not be able to speak the words you want to say.
You have trouble concentrating, may forget small details and even plans you had made.
You may have a feeling of confusion, like you just can not grasp what is being said to you.
You have decreased concentration and even a lack of alertness and energy. It can be frustrating and even depressing.

It is one of the main difficulties we face on a daily basis. It can range from mild issues, like forgetting the word “hairbrush” to severe, like the feeling of confusion as to why you are in the room in the first place.

I will be in a conversation, have the word on the tip of my tongue, a simple word such as hairbrush, and can not for the life of me say that word!
Instead it comes out as “hair thingy”….or an explanation like ” the thing I put in my hair”

I have walked in my room to get dressed for the day, and ended up looking through a book of photos and then proceed to leave the room.

This would, and sometimes still does upset me to the point of tears. I feel like I am going nuts, time to admit myself into the closest psychiatric ward. Surly I am not insane. I am just having an “off” day.

My family used to get annoyed, or look at me like I had monkeys coming out of my ears. Now they are educated and understand what is happening. They help me out with the word or words I am trying to recall, and now are very nonchalant about it as to not make me feel worse or more self concious about it.

Fibro fog, or memory loss in fibromyalgia is a common symptom.

A study done at the University of Michigan in 2002 proved that fibro fog exsists. The results of their study showed that people with fibromyalgia had a cognitive resemblance to people 20 years older than them. The people in the same age range were faster and more precise. Fibro patients were slower, had a difficult time recognizing familliar words and phrases and may confuse similar shaped numbers. I do this one all the time!

It is also believed that our pain levels are one of the main causes of this memory loss.
The higher the pain level, the more our brain has to work, causing this lapse in our cognitive abilities.
Sleep may be a factor also. The less sleep, quality restful sleep, the harder it is to have clear thoughts.

There are a few reasons why we have these memory lapses.

1. Over exertion
2. Lack of sleep
3. Certain medications

These all play a role in the way our thoughts and memory work. I can see what they are saying. When I am tired and hurting, especially during a ” flare”, nothing gets done. I can barely take proper care of myself, let alone try to have a meaningful conversation. I usually sit or lay on the couch and act like a zombie when I don’t sleep well or am in terrible pain.

I have begun keeping appointment books where I write everything down as soon as I find out about it. I check it at least weekly, sometimes several times a day. It has surly helped out the forgetting about plans or appointments. The next time you find yourself in a situation that you just can’t seem to find the right words, or feel as though you are just a bit in the clouds, remember this is a common symptom of fibromyalgia.

There are some ideas to help with our foggy days.

Avoiding caffeine.

I know one of the first things I do is reach for a diet mt dew, or the iced coffee. It is said that using caffeine is causing us to not have restful sleep. I agree that it would hinder our sleep patterns,so I try to not have caffinated drinks later in the day.

Exercise.

It helps to put our minds and bodies in sync. As long as I am not in a really painful day, I try to get out and just walk. It is usually around the circle I live in, but it is something.

Work word puzzles or cognitive games.

There are plenty of game apps, or even the old fashioned way of puzzle books. They take your mind off of the task you have going, and you can just escape for a few minutes.

I know we have all heard these suggestions time and time again. I am not going to say any of these will work, but when those dreaded days hit me, I am willing to try anything. Even more than once. Or, I may just end up on the couch watching a movie. That usually always takes my mind off of the present and also gives me much needed down time.

You are not alone. You are not completely losing your mind. Just take a second to allow your mind to catch up. Give yourself a much needed break. It will come to you, and you will feel just fine. We are all still learning about fibromyalgia, physicians included. All we can really do is take each day in stride, learn to laugh at ourselves and roll with the punches. Knowing we are all going through some of the same battles and experiences helps me through each day and fight.

-TBerry

For support and discussions join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and chronic illness”

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