Well it’s Friday and around here I like to take a little time to write about my daily struggles with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.
How do I say this? I CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT THIS WEEK. Ok, I guess I came up with those words pretty easy but if I wanted to speak past a 6th grade grammar level this week I would have needed a thesaurus.
Researchers are studying more and more on the topic of “fibro fog”. At it’s very worst it can cause a disorienting affect that can leave a person not knowing where they are or where they were headed for 30-90 seconds or more. I have personally been fortunate to not have experienced things that bad. My main problems are losing my train of thought sometimes mid-sentence, comprehending what I’m reading and having trouble following conversations. Sometimes it can feel like a bunch of static in my head and I wish I could just tune in to whatever channel is my focus for that moment. Sometimes I’ll have to ask people to repeat what they just said because it feels like it literally goes in one ear and out the other.
There are a few little tricks I’ve been keeping up my sleeves for days like this. I thought I’d share a few of my personal dos and don’ts with you.
- Don’t trust your brain. Even though you think of yourself as a normally intelligent person who’s really focused; just face it. For certain periods of time, possibly every day for some, you won’t be able to trust the little grey matter computer in your skull. Don’t stress about it or feel less of a person – just work with it. Determine that you’ll change how you do certain things so you can manage at your very best!
- Don’t panic – you’re not losing your mind. I have a book by Dr. Teitelbaum called From Fatigued to Fantastic; a guide for Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (I recommend this book! Great for someone newly diagnosed or who’s been navigating the fibro waters for a while), he says that some patients will get really nervous that they could be losing their mind or developing Alzheimer’s. He states how the two aren’t related and the one doesn’t turn into the other. For example, with fibro fog I might forget what you just told me, but with Alzheimer’s I may forget who you are.
- Make lists! And use them! Use a planner too! I am getting better at this all the time. For example, I developed a grocery list that breaks down into 14 sections according to the 14 isles in my local grocery store. This really helps me to stay on track and focused. I don’t have to keep scanning through a list to be sure I grabbed it all; I just start at isle one and I’m all set. I’ve made multiple copies of the list and I have them on a clip board hung on the inside of my pantry door.
- Sleep. Please don’t throw something at the computer screen. I won’t feel the hit anyway and you’ll have to fix your computer. The problems with fibro fog will just be magnetized the more tired and wore out you are. I understand insomnia can come with the territory too; try your best to do what you can to wind down at night and possibly talk to your dr to see what can be done to help. Insomnia is horrible and can highlight the fatigue, fog, and pain.
- Talk to your doctor about possibly adding some supplements to your mix. I discovered a supplement called ribose from reading that book I mentioned by Dr. Teitelbaum. It’s a simple, natural sugar that your body uses in the energy molecules and can help the body process other nutrients as well; such as the B vitamins. As part of my treatment my doctor has me taking B vitamins 3x’s a day; mainly for the fatigue because my body isn’t retaining B or D nutrients. However, I have noticed a drastic difference with my fibro fog on days I don’t take them. But like I said, check with your doctor first!
- Get oxygen moving in your blood! Again, if you’re going to throw something at your screen right now, do yourself a favor and make it a cotton ball or something. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain and it does help with the fog. I understand there are days we can barely shower let alone get out for a walk; for those days, I’ve even noticed sitting on my porch or even in the house in a quiet room for a bit and breathing deeply helps calm down my mind when it’s racing or foggy and it allows me to focus better.
- Cut back on the sensory overload. I grew up in a house where the tv was on almost constantly. Sad to say it’s on way too much in my own home most days. To top it off I have my cell phone, my ipod, my computer, my husband, my kids and my grandson all contributing to the amount of input my brain is trying to process at any given moment. On days I’m at my foggiest I find taking some time away from all the media noise helps! I can’t turn off the people in the home, I’ve tried ;). But I can limit what I can control!
- Uni Task. Yep, did I just coin a new phrase?! I don’t know who decided multi-tasking was the benchmark for productive women but they certainly didn’t have fibro. I’m not militant about this, yes, I’ll do other things while I have a load of laundry in the washer but trying to do too much just adds to the already confused state of our minds. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t allow yourself to be distracted with trying to do multiple things at once.
- Avoid caffine. Trust me, a Coke is usually the first thing I want to grab when I need to focus but it only means you’re going to crash later on; trust me. Also because it’s a stimulant it can make all those jumbled thoughts floating around in there move faster and making things worse!
Stay well – Live Joyfully!