Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tomorrow's Forecast: Fog On Coolidge Avenue?

foggy streetImage by r0b1 via Flickr

Today's post will be brief as I am stuck in the fog ... fibro-fog that is. What is fibro-fog? This term refers to the cognitive impairments that are part of living with fibromyalgia and include: short-term memory lapses, poor concentration, impaired ability to think and difficulty remembering and speaking common words.

According to the Arthritis Today website, research is shedding light on what causes fibro-fog. One study using MRI showed that people with fibromyalgia occasionally do not get enough oxygen to certain parts of their brains. Additionally, living with chronic pain causes changes to the brain: in fact, it may result in the brain shrinking up to 11% according to researchers at Northwestern University. While discovering the source of fibro-fog, researchers have also ruled out problems sleeping and depression as causes of fibro-fog.

In my case, I recently learned I have a congenital heart malformation called an atrial septal defect that is allowing small amounts of deoxygentated blood to be pumped back out into my body. Atrial septal defect can be associated with migraines, headaches and a slightly increased risk of stroke. It can also contribute to symptoms of fatigue. I'm not sure yet what this diagnosis means for me or if it need to be corrected, but I am already taking a baby aspirin each day to decrease my stroke risk.

I am fortunate that fibro-fog affects me only once in a while. To combat its effects, tomorrow I am going to concentrate on extra rest and reducing my mental activities. Here's hoping that the forecast changes to sunshine soon.

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