My RA Life: When Brain Fog Descends
RA Daily Forecast: Mostly cloudy today with periods of intermittent dense brain fog leading to "word stumbling", disjointed thoughts, and slow body movements. These unnerving conditions will last all day, and most likely draw stares from non-RAers who happen to cross your path.
Sometimes my RA World is foggy. I know as soon as I get up on a "bad" day that the next several hours will feel as though they are passing in super slow motion.
I have researched the heck out of this topic, but have yet to find a definitive answer. I have read articles that theorize that inflammation may be the culprit. Some doctors suggest in their writings that is is part of the extreme fatigue we all experience from time to time. Some offer no explanation at all, but they admit it is a symptom of RA.
I do not know why brain fog exists. Apparently, no one else knows either. I do know that we have to find ways of dealing with this particularly troubling symptom of this disease that is our constant companion. I have learned that "giving in" to the fog, at least in my case, only makes it worse.
My symptoms of brain fog are:
Taking what seems like forever to write a check in the check out line at the store
Forgetting what I came to purchase
Experiencing difficulty stringing thoughts together
Walking as if my arms and legs are weighted down with 25-pound barbells
Experiencing difficulty completing tasks at work
Wanting to just lie down, close my eyes, and dream of a world without fog
In an effort to minimize the effect of brain fog on my quality of life, I have made some minor adjustments. For instance, I write my check out ( except for the amount, of course ) while I am waiting in line to pay for my purchases.
I used to chuckle at my mother writing out shopping lists. No more chuckling from me on that matter I write down EVERYTHING now. I keep a running lists of things in my purse so that I have it handy should I happen to pass by a store that has what I need.
If I am having an especially foggy day, I avoid tasks that require quick thinking or critical analysis. I try to put those types of things off for another day. Trying to accomplish these types of task on a foggy brain day would just be a waste of time and effort.
I have yet to come up with anything to lessen the feeling of carrying weights around on my arms and legs. What I have done is just accept that I need more time to get to appointments, or go shopping, or whatever the case may be. Some days are just like that.
Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking when they see me taking a long time to walk to my destination. I’m sure some of them are wondering why a perfectly healthy-looking individual is SO SLOW. I couldn’t make them understand if I tried. Instead, I ignore the looks. I must admit that sometimes I feel uncomfortable, but it is what it is.
I do try to be especially careful not to fall. I am aware of this danger every day, but foggy days seem to bring a higher incidence of falls for me. They also bring more instances o f spilling things. In the last two weeks, I have spilled coffee and Coke in my DH’s relatively new car. When he didn’t get at all upset with me, I knew my struggling was obvious.
When I have brain fog, I am SO TIRED. I just want to lie down and sleep. I usually resort to caffeine to provide a temporary boost of energy. Trouble with that is, one has to keep the caffeine flowing to maintain the boost. I’m thinking I may want to buy stock in Folgers and Coke!
The Holidays are upon us, and many of us are running around more than ever shopping and attending functions with friends and family. I would love to know what you do to combat brain fog. If you have any useful tips, or even funny stories, please share them with our community. Maybe we can come up with something helpful for all of us. If not, then maybe we can just have a few good laughs and relax!
Vanessa wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).