Fight Brain Fog!

Or, at the very least, give your­self more resources to fight it!

Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are like mus­cles, in that they have to be devel­oped and exer­cised reg­u­lar­ly, even stretched to keep them flex­i­ble. We can’t nec­es­sar­i­ly avoid the cog­ni­tive deficits that come with some of our ill­ness­es, or as a side effect of our med­ica­tions. What we can do is improve our fac­ul­ties, giv­ing us a bet­ter lev­el of over­all func­tion­ing despite those deficits.


Ways to Improve Your Men­tal Fit­ness
is an excel­lent arti­cle on the sub­ject. I rec­om­mend read­ing it and not­ing some new things to try.

Per­son­al­ly, I find that doing things like a Sudoku or cross­word puz­zle or a cou­ple of rounds of soli­taire Mahjongg each day help me “wake up” my brain and think bet­ter. I’ve long wished I had access to the Nin­ten­do brain train­ing game (Brain Age? some­thing like that), as it sounds like just the thing.

I real­ly wor­ried about tak­ing col­lege cours­es, because I know that if I had to take an IQ test these days, my score would be marked­ly low­er than it was pre-FMS. Hap­pi­ly, I found that tak­ing the cours­es helped me to regain some men­tal agili­ty. I still have mem­o­ry prob­lems, and all bets are off dur­ing a bad flare—but I def­i­nite­ly feel that I’m cop­ing bet­ter on a day to day basis.

Now that I’m not in school for­mal­ly, I’ve been learn­ing to pro­gram. It’s anoth­er kind of think­ing, and one I’ve thought about acquir­ing for years. It has­n’t been easy, but I’m doing it, and it cer­tain­ly is stretch­ing my men­tal muscles.

Mak­ing music is anoth­er thing that works for me. I’ve been re-learn­ing to play the ukulele, some­thing I orig­i­nal­ly learned in the sec­ond grade. I used to know how to play piano, flute, and oth­er instruments

I’ve always been a singer, pri­mar­i­ly, though

, and I’m sur­prised at how much I’ve for­got­ten about read­ing music. I “know” the notes, but I’m so slow that I have to stop and think, “Now, wait, that’s two lines below the bass clef, so…” when it used to be as easy as read­ing any Eng­lish text. The more I work with it, though, the more I find the exer­cise of think­ing in anoth­er lan­guage to be use­ful as an exercise.

What are you doing to stay sharp? Have you tried any of the activ­i­ties rec­om­mend­ed in the article?

Happy Birthday, Daddy & Matt!

I spent most of today with my fam­i­ly at my par­ents’ house. It was a won­der­ful visit!

I got to meet my youngest nephew, Eli, for the first time. I was ill every time my broth­er and his brood came to town after his birth last fall (turned out I had pneumonia—I real­ly should learn to go to the doc­tor instead of try­ing to ignore should things). He’ll be a year old next month, and he’s such a doll! He looks a lot like Matt did as a baby, but even more like his old­er broth­er, Jack. He’s sweet­ly tick­lish even though he is teething a bit, and I got to nib­ble on his toes! (He gnawed on my hand a bit too, so it all evened out.) He has a very strong grip and is at the “grab every­thing” stage, but I antic­i­pat­ed that and did­n’t both­er wear­ing ear­rings. I’m glad that I got my hair cut short again this week, as it left far less hair for him to pull at.

See­ing Jack next to my sis­ter’s boy, Will, though, is a trip—they look more like broth­ers than cousins! Jack­’s twin, Sadie, is beau­ti­ful. She reminds me of Katie at that age in some ways, but she’s very much her own per­son, with very strong opin­ions. Matt and his wife have love­ly, well-behaved chil­dren. And just in the last year, Will has gone from look­ing like a lit­tle boy to, well, not! And he’s only 7 years old! Although he says, “I’m sev­en now, you know,” with a grav­i­tas that makes it sound as if he’ll be join­ing the mil­i­tary any day now. He def­i­nite­ly lives life at one speed, and that is full ahead!

Mom and Dad cooked way too much food for breakfast—SOS, bis­cuits, eggs, lots of fruit, sausage, bacon, hash browns, and I can’t even remem­ber what else. Lat­er on we had cakes and ice cream, of course (yogurt for those of us who don’t do ice cream so much). I wimped out and try­ing both cakes, but I was being dar­ing enough to have a small slice of one. Then Mom told us that Dad­dy had been cook­ing all day Sat­ur­day, using the smok­er! I rode up there with Katie and her boyfriend, who had plans for lat­er today, so we left before any­one else did. I don’t think I could pos­si­bly have eat­en anoth­er bite, but I hope the oth­ers stayed for anoth­er meal. I know the food cer­tain­ly smelled good.

Even though the kitchen and din­ing room tables are huge, we filled both of them. Unlike the hol­i­day meals of my youth, we did­n’t sep­a­rate into adult and chil­dren’s tables. Per Will’s wish­es, we had the “men’s” and “wom­en’s” tables for break­fast, but end­ed up all mixed for cake and ice cream (he was so dis­ap­point­ed). From that I fig­ured him to be at the “girls have cooties” stage, but appar­ent­ly boys and girls don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly go through such a stage any more. Who knew?

I took an iPad, because I was asked to review an app and need­ed help from chil­dren. I had absolute­ly no idea just how pop­u­lar it would be! We could have kept sev­er­al more busy. On sec­ond thought, if there had been sev­er­al more avail­able, it might not have been as fun. After the boys dis­cov­ered the cam­era func­tion, there was a lot of silli­ness. I was glad the gad­get has a case, but for fur­ther fam­i­ly occa­sions, I think it needs one that’s more child-grip­pable. Maybe some­thing rub­ber­ized? In any case, the device is even more fun with kids. I feel much younger now as a result. We played sil­ly games, col­ored, took pic­tures, and played more sil­ly games. I should have loaded up some Trout Fish­ing in Amer­i­ca and oth­er good music. I will cer­tain­ly do so for future occasions!

I gave the twins their copy of Clean Water for Eli Rose by Ari­ah Fine, and they must have liked it. They each had each of their par­ents, Mom, and me read it to them at least once that I know of in less than an hour. They may have also got­ten Katie and my sis­ter to read it to them, as well. It looks as though it’s going to be in heavy sto­ry time rota­tion for a while. I could see some wheels turn­ing for Sadie, so I’m hop­ing she’ll get more than just a sto­ry out of it. If she asks ques­tions, Jack will def­i­nite­ly follow.

It was the best fam­i­ly day I can remem­ber ever hav­ing. I’m get­ting the pho­tos off my phone and the iPad. I hope they came out well, but whether they did or not, we’ll have the memories.