The Levels of Fibromyalgia Brain Fog
Brain fog (also known as fibro fog) is a large part of living with fibromyalgia. Just like real fog, some days there’s none at all, other days it’s thin and evaporates quickly. Some days it’s thick and impossible to see through.
For many fibromyalgia warriors, some level of brain fog occurs almost daily. Unlike real fog, it can strike any time.
What is brain fog? Brain fog is just as you imagine the weather phenomenon from which it’s named. You literally feel like your thoughts are clouded. Your concentration and memory are affected. At times, even your ability to speak and do other cognitive activities, such as drive, read or eat become difficult. I can’t tell you how often I’ve struggled to remember how to use a fork, or slurred my words in the middle of a sentence. This is often related to severe pain, but not always. The most basic truth about fibromyalgia and all it’s variables is that it’s completely unpredictable.
What was I saying?
Oh! Brain fog. Right. Uhm….
As I type this, I’m having a fairly good pain day. After a week-long flare, I’m feeling good with an overall pain score of three. The brain fog, however, is somewhere around a four. That’s “average” for me, but that means I couldn’t remember if I took my medication this morning or not. I sat staring for I’m not sure how long trying to remember, when pain surged and reminded me that I had not. I try to write my med schedule down, but that’s only when I’m able to remember:
1. To write it down.
2. Where my list is
3. That I was looking for a pen and paper to write something down in the first place.
Brain Fog Level four to five are days bad enough for my daughter to ask me if I “have the same problem grandma does?” (dementia).
Some more difficult days, such as brain fog Level six to eight, meaning that I’m not able to work at a task for more than three to five minutes without forgetting what I was doing or becoming distracted. These episodes always coincide with moderate to high pain, therefore extreme fatigue days. As my body rages against itself, my brain becomes confused, tired and easily distracted by thoughts of cold, soothing ice cream for my jaw pain, Disney World, purse shopping, or hot coffee and shoulder massages. It’s hard to think of anything but pain and ways to relieve it.
The worst days register around brain fog level eight to 10. Those are when my pain and fatigue flare to an Everest proportion. It’s a huge physical, emotional and mental strain to get through those days. Working, parenting, wife-ing and living is a fight against the clock, hoping sleep can set me free. Brain fog on those days mean that when I talk, it’s likely to be slurred or garbled. It’s not an exaggeration to say people who don’t know me would assume I was drunk. It’s not only embarrassing but difficult to witness your body disassociate from your brain. I know many millions of health warriors around the world can understand that kind of frustration.
As I learn to cope with fibromyalgia and the accompanying brain fog, I’ve decided most of all to be gentle with myself. Before fibromyalgia, I can remember being a fierce, “type A,” motivated, hard-working, passionate individual. I fought hard against fibromyalgia until I realized without a known cure, the only way I can “win” is to change the way I think. I have to accept my limitations. I have to accept the fact that we all have limitations, it’s just a difference in how we cope with them. Now I learn to fight with fibromyalgia. I’m still a fierce, “type A,” motivated, hard-working, passionate individual. Now I must also be patient and gentle. I have to accept my “off days” and embrace this new reality.
Brain fog doesn’t have me (today) but I have fibromyalgia brain fog.
Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash