Brain Fog and Grad School

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pluslouie
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 10/6/2011 8:29 PM (GMT -6)   
So, I have lupus, and I'm in grad school.

Currently, my brain fog is so bad, I can barely do homework. I try to read the material, but I don't retain any of it. It's getting really hard to do my work.

This happened once before, in the spring, but I was also flaring with pain and inflammation and everything. I took small doses of prednisone as per my rheumy, and it got better eventually.

Does anyone have any solutions?

I hate to email my teacher and say, "I'm sorry. I don't understand anything, but I feel like crap." I know it's true, but I hate playing the lupus card.

PJ555
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2011
Total Posts : 79
   Posted 10/6/2011 11:19 PM (GMT -6)   
I don't yet know if I have Lupus but I do have the horrible brain fog. It is really bad and I noticed that I was waking up in traffic at red lights or on the freeway in traffic jams with my car rolling almost hitting people or going into ditches. I was drinking so many of those 5 hour energy drinks a day that I am almost positive it played a major part in the horrible surgery I just went through in June with all of my stomach stuff. In January I had told my doctor because I was working fulltime and taking online classes that I was scared. I was having to pull over on the way home from work which is a 20 or 30 min drive depending on traffic to take a short rest a couple of times and then I just started drinking a 5 hour energy drink about half hour before I left to drive anywhere I have had symptoms out the wazoo for years actually. My family is riddled with autoimmune diseases. My aunti died with MS my mom has thyroid disease, my daughter has Graves dis and PCOS my son is type 1 diab and Hashimotos dis, I got hashimotos dis at age 10 my thyroid weighed a poind and a quarter when it was removed I have the weirdest blood work all the time, I am so anemic it isn't even funny I have had two transfusions, now since this surgery that went so bad I swell so bad, I have to take 80ms of lasix a day and I still swell and i will be bald in about a month and I only wish I was exagerrating. My right hand feels like the tin man and aches like a bad tooth and now my left pinky is starting the same thing. My knees now are aching and my feet are to weird to explain. But being in a fog I can't find my way through and going bald is driving me absolutely nuts. How do you combat that? My doctor put me on Adderall 10mg in the am and then again in the afternoon it helps some but now my fog is so heavy and dense I need the whole 20 on both times. I heard this Plaquenil stuff helps with the fatigue is that true? I am back in classes now. I am 49 years old and trying so hard to get a Bachelor degree by te time I am 50. Since June I have lost so much I would like that to still look forward to but it isn't looking good for that either. What else does my body have left to take from me?

pluslouie
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2010
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 10/6/2011 11:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Plaquenil has helped a lot with the pain and inflammation, but I personally haven't had it help the fatigue. I've heard it helps some people in that regard. I've been on it for over 2 years, but I stopped taking it once for a few weeks, and I hurt and was exhausted and foggy, so I imagine it's helping more than I know.

My doc has given me a few different stimulants to help with the fatigue, but I've had mixed results. Sometimes I felt less tired, but I was still run-down from not sleeping. On other meds, my resting heart rate is 105+. My docs and I are on a quest to find a solution, or at least part of one.

Lynnwood
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7720
   Posted 10/7/2011 8:19 AM (GMT -6)   
As counter-intuitive as it sounds, the best thing my rheumotologist ever did for my fatigue was prescribe Trazodone as a sleeping medication.

This was when I was sleeping 12 hours at night, taking a morning and afternoon nap, and still feeling exhausted. The first night I took it I slept 14 hours straight, but for the first time in ages I felt like a human when I woke up. That was in 2003...it wasn't long before I was sleeping 9 hours regularly and feeling refreshed when I woke up.

My rheumy's explanation was that while I was sleeping, I was not getting "deep restorative sleep".

I still take Trazodone today, and I still wake up with some energy. *So much better* than waking up like a zombie! I highly recommend getting OFF of energy drinks, caffeine, and stimulants and instead focus on quality of sleep.
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator
DIAGNOSING-LUPUS & LUPUS-RESOURCES
"Life is far too important to be taken seriously" - Oscar Wilde

Bsime
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 1342
   Posted 10/7/2011 4:21 PM (GMT -6)   
This article might help you understand brain fog more but I don't know of any way to treat it other than the treatments normally given for lupus.  I have cognitive impairment (short term memory, concentration, and coping in general) and at first did not want to recognize it was happening.  Although I am retired I do some computer/network consulting which is very detail oriented and have to make sure I am prepared.  I write down everything and do not rely on memory for anything.  Reasoning ability is good but the memory banks are definitely damaged...most noticeably short term but also long term to some degree.  Over the past 6 years in remission it has improved somewhat but not anywhere near 100%.
 
 
Have considered taking some college courses and decided not to do it due to memory and difficulty concentrating when reading.  As a grad student you do not have that option.  The best I can offer is that I have adapted by organizing myself and never relying on memory.  Life is good but not the same.
 
Bill
 
 

Lynnwood
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 7720
   Posted 10/7/2011 5:04 PM (GMT -6)   
My cognitive function was rather severe - it was enough to be measurable by neuropsych testing - and caused the loss of my business, my career, and my PhD dissertation. For almost 2 years, I didn't even drive as I'd get disoriented within a block or 2 of the home I've lived in for 25 years.

I had improvements once the fatgiue was addressed, and more improvements since my lupus has "quieted". While I am probably 90-95% back to my pre-lupus normal, as Bill says, my memory and ability to learn has been permanently compromised.

My recommendations -- use all the tricks you can find to help supplement your memory, make sure your sleep and eating habits support heath, avoid stress as much as possible, and give yourself plenty of time to read and fully comprehend the material.

As Bill says, Life is good but different!
Lynnwood, Lupus & Sjogren's Moderator
DIAGNOSING-LUPUS & LUPUS-RESOURCES
"Life is far too important to be taken seriously" - Oscar Wilde

couchtater
Elite Member


Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 14475
   Posted 10/7/2011 5:48 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm like you Bill. I write notes to keep me on track.
I've had days where I so foggy I feel like I've taken three benadryls.

If I don't take care of something right then or write it down it won't get done.
The plaquenil has helped a lot with my fatigue and some with the fog.
Joy
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