This is what a Doctor in my Occupational Health Department wrote when detailing part of my symptoms and why I am not currently for work. I find it slightly amusing. I think my wife would argue I had this long before I got sick!
Brain-fog is such a pain sometimes and it affects more of what I do than I realised. Normal conversations are hard because I forget what we are talking about just moments earlier, I can’t plan journeys to new places or adjust timings, following a recipe is almost impossible, counting change is like sitting an exam and talking on the phone is, well, embarrassing really, I keep zoning out and having to apologise.
Looking back I think I was experiencing some form of brain-fog prior to getting full-blown ME/CFS symptoms. I recall particularly struggling to remember peoples’ names. And it wouldn’t just be people I didn’t know that well it was people I’d been friends with for years. Or famous film, T.V. or sports stars. People I knew a lot about, who were instantly recognisable to me but I simply could not remember their names. It was quite concerning and very frustrating. At the time I put it down to sleep deprivation from shift-work but now I am not so sure. I wonder if it was the early signs of this illness and I wonder if others have had similar experiences. I’m sure, in time, as awareness increases and research budgets grow we may find an answer.
I have tried a few tactics to reduce the effects of brain-fog. I have a wee book which I write down important information. But I kept losing it. So I decided to put it in the same place every time wrote something in it. But I would forget where that place is too leading me to, very slowly, ransack my house until I was reunited with it!
Most of my important information is now on my phone which rarely leaves my sight and I have a wall calendar onto which I write all of my appointments. This serves me pretty well so far and I would be lost without them. Where possible I try to keep things as simple as I can. This blog has helped a lot because I can put down my thoughts as they come to me. I will usually write a few dozen words in a day before I start to lose track of where I am going.
There is kind of an unwritten rule in the Police that doing paperwork on a nightshift is an exercise in futility because you’ll come back to work the following evening only to find you had written a report filled with utter nonsense! The same is true for me now, more often than not I re-read what I wrote the previous day or a few hours earlier and it is incomprehensible drivel! I notice I jump around a lot; it is very hard to concentrate though – similar to being drunk in a lot of ways.
Brain-fog can have its moments of levity too, especially when I mix up my words. Recently I was getting dressed, I couldn’t find my jeans so I asked my wife if she had seen my pair of piddles! Recently I suffered a flare-up which for some reason I referred to as a back-draft!
I have taken to explain to people I meet that I have memory problems early into a conversation which takes the pressure off me. I find the more relaxed I am the less my brain-fog is a factor, or perhaps I am less conscious of it. In a lot of ways brain-fog is difficult to pin down and so addressing it is challenging – you never quite know what to expect or how it will affect you next.
In the meantime please don’t be offended if I forget what we were talking about or I lose my train of thought. I will most likely ask you the same question a few times, please be patient with me, and trust me I would love to have remembered what you said!