3 things I do to combat brain fog because of PNH
My problems with memory and confusion hit harder while I'm at work
When I first heard the term “brain fog,” I was confused about what it meant. After my diagnosis of paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and aplastic anemia, brain fog became one of my prevalent symptoms. I didn’t understand the impact it’d eventually have on my health over the long term.
Dictionary.com defines brain fog as “a mental state marked by difficulty remembering, concentrating, or thinking clearly, often caused by exhaustion, stress, or illness.” To provide personal context to that definition, brain fog is most challenging for me while I’m at work.
One day, for example, a co-worker walked up to my desk to discuss a couple tasks that needed to be finished before the end of the day. As my co-worker was talking, since the list wasn’t long or difficult to remember, I listened and nodded as if I were gathering all of the information internally. But after they left my desk, I immediately forgot our conversation. It was as if a haze of fog had covered my mind and prevented my brain from remembering important tasks.
The short-term memory loss I experience with PNH is a recurring theme at work. I find it hard to manage because it happens without warning. Sometimes I don’t realize it’s happened until later in the day or even later in the week.
In addition to memory loss, I find myself dealing with confusion. I have difficulty finishing sentences because I find myself at a loss for words. In the middle of a conversation, I’ll stop, look around, and search for the word I’m trying to say. That makes me nervous. Imagine it happening repeatedly, while others are staring at me, waiting for me to finish a sentence!
Another thing I’ve learned is that brain fog sometimes doesn’t go away. So I work hard to be proactive in facing it head-on.
Cognitive improvement games
I researched and downloaded apps on my phone to improve my cognitive health. Among them are games that challenge my mind. My favorites are memorization games. Recalling sequences and the order of things helps me to confront brain fog.
In a sense, I’m tricking my brain into realizing that I need improvement in this area. I play a couple games a day. If I miss a day, it’s OK; I’ll try again the next day.
Practicing yoga helps me understand stillness and centering myself. It is a great reminder that within the chaos, there are moments to relax my mind, body, and soul.
I also practice meditation. Stress triggers my symptoms, and meditation brings me back to a peaceful presence and calms the storm.
I always explain my health battle as a journey because I navigate so many ups and downs. Being patient with where I am in my journey is important.
While cognitive games and yoga help me fight brain fog, some days I simply don’t feel like it. On those days, I give myself grace and remind myself that this, too, shall pass.
Brain fog is a symptom I try to handle mentally as well as through yoga. Equipping myself with the tools for that task helps me feel more confident in conversations with others and when completing tasks at work.
Do you experience brain fog? What are some of the ways you confront it? Please share in the comments below.
Note: PNH News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of PNH News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.