Fibro-fog, cognitive dysfunction in fibromyalgia

They call it fibro fog or "brain fog".  It's where the name for this blog came from, although at the time I created the blog, I really only had very occasional brain fog.  Perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, because recently my brain fog/fibro fog is off the charts and is greatly interfering with my life.

So what is fibro fog or brain fog?  It is cognitive dysfunction, as a symptom of fibromyalgia.  This is not like early Alzheimer's, although it can be for some fibromyalgia patients, because, as with all of our symptoms, every one of us is different.  This syndrome is so insidious.  For me, it is a different kind of cognition problem from simple, short-term memory loss like happens to all my friends, like happens to everyone when they get older.  This is not that kind of forgetfulness.  There is some forgetfulness involved, but mainly it is more like a newly-erupting learning disability.  It's not a memory problem ("Where did I put my glasses?" type of thing).  This is more like a short-circuit or a disconnect.  Take, for example, today.

I live about an hour west of Boston in "fahm" country (say it aloud, you'll get it).  I grew up in a Boston suburb, where there was a family get-together today (what's left of the family, that is!).  I had some errands to run in my town, first, so I left about an hour earlier than I needed to so that I could run those errands, pick up a gift for the relative whose birthday it was, and then take a leisurely drive east with no pressure.

It was my intention to wear jewelry, pluck the embarrassing facial hairs off my face (yea, another new thing that has cropped up -- oh the joys of Fiftyhood), charge my iPhone, and my camera's battery pack.

I did none of those things.  I left the house not wearing any jewelry, black hairs sticking out of my chinny chin chin (why I have black hairs on my chin when I have been a natural "tow-headed" blonde since birth is beyond my comprehension!)

Dear Mother Nature:  
Sincerely, Blonde With Beard

As soon as I got in the car and turned the corner, heading east, I remembered about the jewelry and the beard.  Damnit!... I swore, as I slammed my hand into the steering wheel.... should I turn around, and get the dogs all excited about my return, and have to explain why I was coming back (and, probably, forgetting one of the two things in the process)?  Or keep going?  I kept going.  The hell with the jewelry that I just bought, which sits, un-worn, in a jewelry box.  Every day.  I never, ever remember to wear it! I buy it, and then I don't wear it.  I always remember just as I'm turning the corner at the end of our road.  Not when I stand in my kitchen and say "Gee, I feel like I'm forgetting something....." (which I say every time I'm leaving the house) No, at that point, it never registers "Ah,  jewelry!"  The frigging beard.  I can't even talk about the frigging beard.  No, it's when I'm already in the car, I've already said goodbye to everyone at home, and it's a pain in the neck to turn around (because I'm also almost always LATE).  So, I don't turn around.  The jewelry and the beard, sit, un-dealt with.

But today was even more special.  I got about 2 miles up the road and remembered:  The errands I had to run, at places located in our town, which is southwest, not due east.  I was already heading due east, towards Boston.  Country roads with gigantic snowbanks are not conducive to just banging a U-eee, so I looked for the next side road, and I turned around.  I headed back to our town, to the downtown of our town, which is five miles in the opposite direction.  And then I remembered... I never charged the iPhone and camera!  I plugged the iPhone into the jack into what they used to call a cigarette lighter. Purchasing an extra car charger for the phone sure has come in handy.  The camera ended up working without battery problems.

After a few hours, I was fine.  The fog cleared, and I felt normal, and my brain was functioning on all cylinders.  Now I should point out, this brain fog problem was not in the morning, it was the middle of the afternoon.  This was not a case where I hadn't had my morning coffee, or enough sleep, or anything like that.  It is like losing one's mind.  It's a short-circuit.  It comes out of nowhere, just like ALL the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and just like all the rest of them, there is no explanation.  I had five things I was going to do, and forgot ALL of them, until I was in the car alone.  I believe my failures may have something to do with interacting with humans, dogs, cats, text messages and email as I'm leaving the house.  I can't just get ready and be done with it.  There's always something to deal with, a discussion to be had, a dog or cat to let in or out, or feed, a phone call, a text message, an urgent email, a noise, a visitor, a bright light, slippery ice, steps to shovel, doors to open and close, teeth to brush, hair to brush, bags and purses to pick up, gloves, hat and coat to put on.  The list of things that interrupt the train of thought is endless. I'm surprised I remember to put on my shoes.

But there's more.  There's now what I call The Learning Curve.  It seems like every time I open a new program on the computer, there is the ugly face of The Learning Curve.  I used to be the computer whiz kid.  Now, I am a dismal failure, and find myself yelling, screaming, swearing, shouting, laying my head on the desk in utter frustration, nearly in tears, and wondering why T.F. am I doing all of this anyway.  I'm at the end of my rope with The Learning Curve.  The Learning Curve is not my friend. I hate The Learning Curve.  A person with brain fog cannot learn something new.  When did they decide to change every online platform every few days anyway?  Who can keep up?  Suffering with The Learning Curve makes me feel old, when I am not.  It makes me feel "less than" when I have never, ever, ever felt that way, about myself, ever.  I have always had a "mind like a steel trap".  At work, they called me The Savant because I remembered customer's phone numbers and addresses without even looking them up.

Is this a case of information overload?  Maybe.  I can't think of many other explanations for what appears to be something that just happened overnight.  One day, I woke up, and my brain stopped working the way it used to.   If brain fog is this bad, how awful and terrible must a person with Alzheimer's feel?  It must be very scary, indeed.


  1. Hey Kathy
    I understand this fog although I don't think in my case it's Fibromyalgia. It's very frustrating. I always put myself down for it and consider myself incredibly disorganized. My doc this morining said my memory issues could be from my depression. It's anyone's guess really, but I would love to see a scan of my brain and have it read to me. I'm afraid there will be this huge black spot where my hippocampus is supposed to be :o

    1. It's the learning curve thing that bugs me more (almost) than the forgetfulness. I was thrilled that you came to me with a computer problem today. That was very validating!! I "used to be" the person everyone came to with computer problems. Now, I suck at it, and I hate that! Thanks for your reply :)


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