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In a fog

Posted Aug 26 2008 12:47pm

I was trying to think of a more witty title to call this but brain fog is just too perfect. It completely sums up what I feel like. Like I am in a fog. I know this has been scoffed at by some doctors that this is not a real symptom of chiari and we are making it up or exaggerating but it certainly feels real to me and I know it is constantly mentioned on any message board relating to cm.

It has come on insidiously and not all at once or suddenly. I don't feel as smart as I used to be and I do feel like I am walking around in a fog. It is really hard to co ordinate all the things that go along with being a wife and mother. I have become better at writing things on the calender but that only works if you are reading the calender right. Last Friday I took the girls to the dentist. I had triple checked the time to make sure we were going at the right time. Unfortunately, we had the right time but we were a week early :( Oops. They were kind enough to squeeze us in but this is just one example of what I am up against.

I have had to let a lot of things go b/c it is just to hard to do too many things at once. I need to keep it down to the essentials or else I feel kind of over whelmed. This is not how I used to be. I have worked my whole career in ICU's as a nurse and there are a million details that are critically important at all times. I never had a problem but now I can't imagine working there. I'm also easily stressed. Even watching Survivor last week my heart started pounding and I got shakey. I pretty sure this is the dyautonomia at work. This is one of the symptoms that they list and I completely relate.

My memory is also pathetic. Especially about things years ago. A friend recently sent a photo of four of us dressed up for Halloween when we were all about 22. Everyone commented on how much fun that night was and how it was the most memorable Halloween they had ever had. I have absolutely no recollection of it. If there wasn't photgraphic evidence that I was there I wouldn't have believed it.

My girls also get a big kick out of my constantly saying the wrong word. I have to laugh too. The other day at the table I said "Put the book down while your reading" They both looked at me like I was insane then I realized I must have said something wrong again. What I meant was "Put the book down while you're eating" Some days this happens constantly and it gets very frustrating to try and get a point across.

Dr. Oro just blogged a great piece about this phenomenon

"Some persons with the Chiari malformation complain of problems with working memory, multitasking, and word finding, functions not normally thought to reside in the posterior fossa. What is the basis for these complaints?

The gross anatomy of the cerebellum has been known for many years and the role of the cerebellum has been considered to be coordination of motor function. However, in the past two decades our understanding of the cerebellum has blossomed and there is now evidence that it plays a role in cognitive processes such as working memory, multitasking, and word finding.

In 2004, Diane Mueller and I published a study characterizing the presenting symptoms in 265 patients with the Chiari I malformation. We found 45% of patients complained of memory problems and 14% of word-finding problems.

Although multitasking was not on the questionnaire, some of our patients complained of this problem. One of these, a dispatcher for a trucking company, was accustomed to fielding multiple calls and requests at the same time. As her Chiari symptoms progressed, she noted great difficulty handling her work. To paraphrase her comment, she would often call out “Stop, I can only do one thing at a time!”

Whether problems with working memory, multitasking, and word finding in persons with CM-I are due to cerebellar dysfunction has yet to be critically assessed. However, as the reports below suggest, when we hear these complaints, we can nod our heads, and think yes, it may be the cerebellum."

Posted by John Oro’
Taken from Dr. Oros' fantastic blog at

I don't know what the answer is. I don't know what the problem is. Is is increased ICP, pressure on my brainstem, a screwed up autonomic nervous system that is the root of the problem? I don't know. I think that these symptoms are very real and are hopefully going to be studied further so that they won't be discounted by NS and NL as made up. It feels very real to me and I look forward to the day when I can step out of the fog.

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