Fibro-fog is a state of mental “cloudiness” experienced by those with FMS. It makes simple tasks like phone calls, writing a check or paying a bill, even following a grocery list difficult, if not impossible. Researchers are continually finding specific, physiological causes and proof of Fibro Fog. In simple terms, lack of sleep in general, lack of sleep that is actually restorative, and dealing with increased pain are a few of the most basic and obvious contributing factors. It is important to note that this fog is NOT drug-related or induced. It is not because of over medicating—it is the body’s response to having FMS.
Dealing with Fibro Fog is an intricate part of LIVING a fibroLIFE©. It occurs so often and intrudes upon so many basic, important functions, that many of us find it to be the most debilitating aspect of having FMS. In my case, there was no way I could safely do my job. In fact, even if I could do the job, many days I would not be able to safely drive to a job! Even though I no longer work, just LIVING requires me to go both through and around the fog.
Through vs. Around
While I try to avoid them, there are times that I have no choice but muddle as best I can through the fog. Some business, events, occasions, etc. simple cannot be rescheduled because I am mentally foggy. I used to find these times so embarrassing that I would often go into a Fibro Flare. (Experience an exacerbation of pain and fatigue, and thus more fog…) Over time, I have become less self-conscience about not being able to find words to finish sentences in front of others and other aspects of being “foggy”. In fact, I often use such instances as an opportunity to explain FMS to others. I also use humor to lighten the awkward moments. I have simply come to the point that going into a flare over what others think is just something I am not willing to do.
That said, I much prefer when I can go around the fog. Dealing with business issues, phone calls, important questions, etc. is much easier when I have the flexibility to do so when my mind is at its sharpest and clearest. This requires some purposeful thinking and self-discipline, however.
Usually, I am clearest in the mornings. I am also a bit of a neat-freak however. My natural inclination is to make the bed, clean up after Hubby’s and the furry kids’ breakfast, start laundry, etc. Then I want to get my shower, do my hair, and “look and feel the part” before I deal with business issues or the outside world. Even handling business over the phone or online, I am more confident, have more self-esteem, and feel “more like myself” when I do this. However, it simply is not the best use of my energy and non-foggy time!
Most of the time, if I take the time to tidy up the house, I have to rest before I can make myself “look and feel the part”. By the time I “look and feel the part”, I must rest again and my non-foggy, clear-headed window has long since passed. To best go around the fog, I have to compromise what I want to do and when I want to do it. I no longer allow myself to do things that do not require mental clarity when I am able to think!
Cleaning the mud up when the furry children have been going in and out after a rain is what I am most inclined to do, however, that task does not require me to be mentally sharp. I can fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, and make the bed “through the fog”. Getting around foggy times requires me to be very flexible about some things that are very much hard-wired into my being!
If I want to write a blog post, I catch a non-foggy time, stop whatever I am doing, and write it right then. Often, I skip my morning walk, which I very much need to do, but that is just the trade-off I have to make. It is not easy to choose between being more physically fit and looking better and being mentally productive in a way that helps my self-esteem! Regardless, LIVING a fibroLIFE© requires me to do just that on a regular basis. I cannot do both! (Some days, I cannot do either!)
I try to keep bills and other business that I must do readily available. When I have a time of mental clarity, I stop whatever I am doing or change course from what I had wanted to do. Instead, I go to my prioritized “to-do” piles. I handle the one that is most time sensitive or most important first. Occasionally, I may even be able to get through the next one or two before the fog starts moving in!
This may all sound very basic—and it is—but it is also very complicated! Our natural inclinations create the environment we function best in. I feel very stressed if the floors are messy, the bed is not made, etc. I do not feel good about myself or confident—in fact, I get very stressed over spending half the day in my PJ’s, no make-up, and still have bed-hair! The problem is, stress causes Fibro Fog too! So not only do I have to purposefully choose to go against my normal inclinations and choose to do things that require me not to be foggy whenever I just happen to not be foggy, but the things I have to put off to do this have to not stress me and cause me to become foggy! This just makes me want to shout, “Now tell me again how lucky I am to not have to go to work—to get to stay home all day and just do whatever I feel like doing!”
Planning my day and implementing it according to said plan is just not doable, ever. Flexibility, stress-management, and self-discipline are essential in spite of severe pain, fatigue, and Fibro Fog. LIVING a fibroLIFE© that is productive on even the most basic of levels is very challenging! Choosing when and how to go through the fog and planning ways to go around the fog are a part of daily LIVING my fibroLIFE©.