Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fibromyalgia: Thief of memory

Fibromyalgia sufferers are quite familiar with the memory loss and slowed cognitive processes associated with "Fibro Fog". The mental exhaustion from disordered sleep and the distraction of unrelenting pain can make mental functioning very difficult.

For the non-sufferer, this is akin to getting up after four hours of sleep and trying to think clearly while your body is wracked with the ache you might associate with the flu. You're trying to add numbers in your head, but every move you make reminds you of muscle groups you forgot you had, and you're just not able to focus because you're so tired.

Easing the pain and getting good sleep can improve cognitive function, but moments of 100% functioning are fairly rare. Coping strategies can help us get things done and maybe, just maybe, not forget we put a cake in the oven before lying down for a nap.

One of my favorite strategies for outwitting fibro fog is to keep a notebook and pen handy at all times. I write down every idea that I want to work on later, every task that I must remember, every bit of info that I want to pass along to someone. I jot down keywords, making sure I have just enough to figure out what I was trying to say. When I go through the notebook later to get things done or articles written, I check off completed items with a big slash through the text.

I take this notebook absolutely everywhere. It is tucked into my bag when I'm headed out, brought to the computer desk when I'm writing, and brought to bed at night. When I take the notebook to bed, I bring a little clip-on book light to ensure that I can see what I'm writing without waking up my sleeping angel of a husband.

The notebook itself is kind of important. It should be something that stands out, is sturdy, and is a pleasure to use. I chose a lovely little book with a flower on the cover, but there are so many blank books out there that you can find something to your tastes (see the bottom of this entry for a couple of stunning ones). A good pen is also important; nothing is worse than finding your only pen has crapped out on you while you're trying to scribble down thoughts that could be lost with a change of the winds.

As for remembering to get certain things done, I have found that timers are invaluable. I use my cell phone's alarm clock to remind me to do things, whether it's taking a cake out of the oven, getting ready to make an appointment on time, or start dinner before the husband gets home. If I don't set an alarm, there is a strong possibility that I'll fall asleep and burn the cake, miss the appointment, and starve the husband. (And, don't get all feminist on me for that--the man does the dishes and laundry, it's a give and take relationship!)

There are also lots of programs and websites that can help you remember appointments. Paper calendars always were out of sight, out of mind for me; the only time I had luck with them was when I had a free-standing flip calendar on top of my monitor, where it was constantly in my eyesight. I highly recommend these types of calendars, if you can find them.

My biggest problem, though, is losing great ideas and good phrases, and ever since I made myself use the notebook religiously, I have lost very little compared to before.

For more of these beautiful blank books, search for Smythe blank books:


Jan said...

I just wanted to let you know I too suffer with FMS, PCOS, and Obesity. I am tired! Thanks for the hints about the notebook and calendar close because the fog has just start to get really bad.

I also am really into animals, particularly amphibians. I have quite a menagerie.

Thanks Again for the blog

RioIriri said...

This heat just makes me foggy as heck, and my allergies are getting that end-of-summer intensity, so I might as well just stick my brain in the refrigerator for the next month, because I won't be using it anyway!

I'm glad you enjoy my blog. I'd love to hear about your menagerie! My only amphibians are two Argentine horned frogs (caged separately of course) named Blinky and Inky. :)