How do you handle working with FM "fog"?

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 2660
   Posted 9/28/2009 6:25 PM (GMT -7)   
If you've seen my previous posts, you know that I'm struggling to find a job I can handle.  How do you handle fibro fog at work?  Mine gets so bad it's as if my mind goes totally blank, especially when I have to recall steps to take to complete something, or anything mechanical.  I'd be interested in knowing how others deal with this, especially if your fibro fog gets really bad at times as mine does. Thanks for any input.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 1176
   Posted 9/28/2009 8:29 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Luvzminis,

The short answer is "Not very well!" :)

But that's not helpful.

I'm having lots of problems with this too. Just tonight as I was teaching my math class (college level), I would go blank for several seconds at a time....trying to remember a word or where I was in a math problem. It's very very scary! Although the students seem to think it's funny! :)

And that's just my part-time job....I also have a full-time job as a scientist at a different university! Where I literally support a NASA mission! I just can't afford to be scatter-brained right now! :(

I've been handling my day job by asking everyone who ever gives me input on a task to please send it to me in email so that I can print things out. If they give me instructions or input verbally I won't remember it. I make LOTS of lists and tape them where I can see them.

But unfortunately, I still forget things, and can't think on my feet like I used to....

I just don't know the answer to this one. If someone else out there does, please let BOTH of us know!

Autoimmune hepatitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, psoriasis, Reynaud's syndrome. Possible lupus and/or Sjogren's Syndrome - diagnoses pending.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1522
   Posted 9/28/2009 10:46 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't have a solution. I had to give up my engineering career due to brain issues. I didn't work for many years.

I ended up teaching special education students. They didn't notice the slips and confusion. Now I teach English language learners in elementary school. They think my mistakes are opportunities to correct me. It works out well because I do it on purpose sometimes. They love to catch my "mistakes" and pay more attention when I am having a bad day.

Fortunately, I can function in my current job. Unfortunately, I earn about 25% of what I did as an engineer.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 9/29/2009 6:48 AM (GMT -7)   
I will occasionally completely forget what I was talking about. But then later something will trigger a memory and I will then remember. But the darn Fibro fog nails me all the time. I write myself little notes all the time so I remember stuff. It sucks doesn't it:)
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Crohns Disease and Anxiety/Panic Forum
Crohn's Disease for over 33 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium  w/Vit D, and Xanax as needed. Resections in 2002 and 2005. Also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
It's scary when you start making the same noises As your coffee maker.
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getting by
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Date Joined Sep 2007
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   Posted 9/29/2009 7:06 AM (GMT -7)   
I was out of work for nine years due to fibromyalgia. I jsut went back this past June. I am working at a convenience store close to my home. I work aftenoon shift because I could never get up early enough to be there at six in the morning. It isn't easy, but I am doing it. I find that the fast pace keeps my mind off of the fibro. I like seeing people so that helps too. I am on my feet all day and dont' hurt unless I sit down. but I got a good pair of shoes to wear and that helps. I don't know how I do it. I seem to get more accomplished on the days that I am working than I do on the days that I am not.

My husband is very supportive of me and takes over in the home. So that helps, though I do feel guilty for not doing much. I notice my fibro when I am home more than I do when I am at work. Must be some psychological thing. I do take malic acid and it helps plus the vitamin D3. Plus pain pills and adderall. So I think that helps me to function a lot.

I hope that others are able to work. I never dreamed that I would, but here I am. It is only part time. But it is better than nothing.

Best wishes for a wonderful day,

Hugs, Karen
  Moderator-Depression and fibromyalgia
fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue, depression,allergies

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 124
   Posted 9/29/2009 9:38 AM (GMT -7)   
i wasn't able to keep working so i might not be the best source lol. but here's my thoughts

1. i assume you are properly medicated, especially for the fibro sleep disorder which is the primary cause of fibro fog.

2. write everything down. as someone else mentioned, i told my staff if they wanted me to remember something send me an email

3. i did something i called "management by post-it notes" lol. especially for reminders to do things at a certain time.

4. i used alarms as reminders of meetings or conference calls. online calendars have them, cell phones have them, i had a Palm Pilot that had them.

5. caffeine. studies have shown that it has a statistically significant effect on people's ability to solve problems, pass tests, perform mental tasks. i used to live on coffee and diet coke, now i take caffeine tablets, which really help the fatigue.

6. food helps. if i missed lunch or an afternoon snack my blood sugar would plummet and i would get even spacier.

hope this helps
fibro, migraines, ibs

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 2660
   Posted 10/15/2009 5:50 PM (GMT -7)   
A very belated thank you to all of you.  I should have answered much sooner--guess the fibro fog got me again!  Anyway, I appreciate the input.

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2008
Total Posts : 278
   Posted 10/16/2009 5:46 AM (GMT -7)   
Take a lot of notes.
Keep organized
The meds for FM contribute to the fog
push yourself to do more. You build up a tolerance.
Our attitude towards life determines life's attitude towards us. {Earl Nightingale} 
Fibro since 2005

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 2660
   Posted 10/16/2009 6:04 AM (GMT -7)   
I agree--organization and notes are biggies!  I've spent all week weeding out "stuff" I really don't need, and I find that helpful.  The less stuff to deal with, the better.  "A place for everything and everything in its place."  I'm working on it!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 599
   Posted 10/17/2009 12:05 AM (GMT -7)   
Minis, my biggest problem is the fog. I know now not to try and speak a lot on foggy days - my tongue trips up and I sound drunk or drugged, and with the dry mouth it is just uncomfortable. I will try and occupy myself with tasks that take me away from a lot of talking, like papework or computer work. I also try and take a few minutes in the morning and after lunch to reorganize and make some notes on my day and how my tasks are going. It is really a struggle on the days after nights I don't sleep well, too.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 130
   Posted 10/18/2009 8:57 AM (GMT -7)   
Fibro fog and speech issues are the hardest for me. I have constant headaches and migraines that don't help things either. I find that I'm so lucky to work in a small office with an understanding group of co-workers. They know when I'm struggleing and are willing to help me when I need it. I keep a daily task list... I list everything from the most important of things to silly things I should do on auto pilot. When I'm at a loss looking at the list usually gets me back on track. I have a erasable calendar at home for the family and I tell my children if it's not on the calendar it doesn't get acknowledged and it really helps. I also use the cell phone for reminders. I may have it pop up the day before so that I can prep if I need to and 15 minutes prior it will ring so that if it's to pick up a child or get to a meeting I have enough time to make it happen. I let everyone know that they need to help by writing me a note. My children know me well enough that the text me. My daughter text me the other day... Hi mom, don't forget to pick me up, we have a performance tonight. They use to get mad at me and now they know I can't help it.

I know that work is different. I use the pop up on outlook, calendars, daily to do lists on a spiral pad so that I can reference yesterdays list, post it's, cell phone reminders work great for now and then tasks and things that happen every month at the same time. Laugh off mistakes that didn't kill anyone. We're only human and we're all doing the best that we can. Old folks just blame it on being old and we don't look at them as being crazy. My coworkers call me Dory (from Finding Nimo). My alter personality is the screw up, not me. They will say oh Dory's in the house or Dory must have been working that day. We all laugh and move on!

Love and hugs,
Fibromyalgia (DX'd Dec 07) ~ Generlized Anxiety ~ Migraines ~ IBS ~ Asthma ~ Allergies ~ Testing for MS
Cymbalta (50mg)   Ultram (200mg)   Zirtek   Pepcid   Gas Ex

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 1495
   Posted 10/19/2009 8:25 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Luvz,
I work in a university, too.  Hopefully will be finished with my Master's degree and going into a phd program next year.  We will see. 
I write lots of notes and pace my work.  I try to do mindless things between the things that require thinking.  Sometimes I find myself reading the same paragraph of a journal article over and over again without making sense of it (easy to do even if you don't have fibro fog).  That is when I stop and do something else.  Even a walk outside or a quick break helps.  I find if I try to force myself to think, it my brain ties up in tighter knots.
Nasa and other teachers, that happens to me, too when I teach.  If you turn it around to the students' advantage, you can say, "so what is such and such called . . ." or "why do you think this happens?" etc.  I like to teach statistics and that is something you need to not be foggy on.  It is confusing enough already!!
The article I read about coffee said that there is a curvilinear effect - that means as you drink more, you get more alert, but at a point, the ability to do things goes downhill.  The graph kind of looks like a hill.   I wonder if we build up our tolerance to caffeine and the top of the hill moves to a different place.
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