BRAIN FOG: WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW

When I think about Lyme brain, or brain fog, I envision a clear beautiful sky hindered by stagnant, dark grey clouds that block the sun and literally don’t move, not even for the wind. They just get heavier and heavier as the rain accumulates but doesn’t fall. Imagine if NY was like that all the time? That would suck. Imagine if your mind was like that all the time?

Brain fog encompasses a handful of unpleasant neurological manifestations of Lyme disease — such as difficulty concentrating, memory loss or the inability to store and recall information, inability to process information, difficulties with visual, spatial and mathematical skills, and inability to problem solve.. the list goes on.

When I first experienced these symptoms in the Fall of 2009, I was in my first semester of college studying to be a Physician Assistant. Everyone knows college can be difficult, especially the science courses, but I went from an honor roll student with a strength in science to a failing student who couldn’t recall enough information to pass an exam in any class – despite hours and hours of studying. All these bizarre symptoms in addition to severe migraines that left me bedridden, vomiting and debating whether I should call an ambulance half the time, led me to a neurologist who ultimately diagnosed me with my late stage neurological Lyme.

I’d love to say the brain fog cleared after the diagnosis, but it actually got worse. I dropped out of college and moved back home for the next 9 months to focus on my health. As I trialed antibiotics and herxed horribly, my neurological symptoms waxed and waned and I only became more and more frustrated with myself. I would get lost on my 5 mile drive home from the hostess job that I had for 3 years already, I would lock myself out of my car or my house countless times and I would miss appointments and important dates because I just couldn’t remember. All the while my irritability was at an all time high, and these annoyances that I can now brush off or laugh at, would leave me in tears of anger almost every day. By this point not only have you lost your physical abilities, but you feel like you’re losing your mind, and you’re losing yourself. I used to think I could never come back from that.

My saving grace when Lyme brain was at it’s worst was IV antibiotics. Two summers of IV antibiotics landed me in the hospital and later without a gallbladder, but I improved so much so that I could go back to college to study nursing. Healing from Lyme disease always seems to be a give and take kind of process.

I’m a highly functioning sick person, but I can’t say that brain fog doesn’t plague me day to day. I’m forgetful, I can’t concentrate, I’m easily distracted, and I usually have to read a sentence a few times before I can process it (especially if there’s noise around me). I’m sure you can think of a handful of diagnoses to give me other than Lyme disease, or maybe you think well you’re just busy and stressed – that’s why its called the great imitator. I really don’t know what I would do without Siri jotting down all of my reminders and appointments for me, or without having my daily cup of mushroom coffee. What do you do to help beat brain fog?

RAIN & PAIN: HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE STORM

Rain, rain go away, come again and… my body will pay. Ugh.

For the healthy ones out there, until you’ve sprained an ankle or broken a bone you probably won’t feel the wrath that a rain cloud can bring along. For the chronically pained, when it rains it pours. Often when rain is on its way or showering down, those with a history of injury, arthritis or even headaches feel an increase in pain. 

There are some studies out there that completely trump this whole idea, but if you’re reading this, you probably know the correlation is real. If it’s not, go ahead and tell me “it’s all in my head” again, I won’t listen to you anyways 🤷🏻‍♀️

I can’t speak for everyone, but when a storm is coming my joints are throbbing, it literally feels like they are being blown up like balloons from the inside. I’m also more likely to have a migraine attack when the rain clouds roll in. Unfortunately, weather is the one trigger that is completely beyond anyone’s control – so what can we do about it?

↦ Prophylaxis ↯

  • Stay on top of the weather forecast – I am a weather checking freak, seriously. I have about 4 or 5 weather apps on my phone and one of the few things I ask my Echo Spot is “Alexa, what’s the weather today?” I would blame it on the fact that my back up career was to be a meteorologist (not kidding about that either – I applied to 2 meteorology programs when I applied to college)
  • Take your meds before the pain gets too severe – But really, beyond the fact that I need to know what kind of shoes to wear or if I should bring a rain jacket, I need to know if I’m taking an Advil or putting on a Salonpas before it’s too late.
  • Treat your migraine before it becomes debilitating – If I’m starting to feel the teeny pain in my neck that can either dissipate or evolve to a migraine, I’m probably going to take that Sumatriptan before it does. Sometimes that pain can go away by itself and I don’t have to take any medicine, but if there are other factors involved, I know that it probably won’t.
  • Ice packs, heating pads, naps, baths, meditation – these are a few other favorite ways to combat the impending doom.

Sometimes, if life allows, you just need to crawl back into bed with a book and a big bottle of ice water with mint, and ride out the storm. Letting your body rest until the weather clears and the pressure goes down is ideal, but we know that’s not alway possible.

The worst part about the weather impacting my symptoms is that where I live it rains and snows, a lot. I can’t put my life on hold or stay home from work every time the weather is gloomy because I don’t feel as good as I did the day before. Putting things off until tomorrow is really not an option, because the variety of aches and pains that tomorrow will bring is so unpredictable. Procrastinating is my nature, but it’s something I always regret. There’s nothing worse that pushing out a grad school paper, squinting at the computer screen and wincing at the sound of my fingers typing on the keyboard because of a pounding migraine.

What kind of symptoms do you have that flare up when it rains? How do you manage them differently when weather is a factor? ⛈

THE SUPPLEMENT YOU NEED TO MANAGE YOUR JOINT PAIN

If you are dealing with aches and pains in your joints, you need to keep reading – this supplement is part of my daily routine no matter where I am

Joint pain – knee pain to be real specific, was the first sign of my illness. Widespread joint aches ultimately ensued and became the most long-lasting, crippling piece of my Lyme fight, until I discovered two supplements that have literally been life changing [not even exaggerating a tiny bit]

When I considered myself “better” but not well, joint pain was my greatest struggle. Even though I saw a rheumatologist [a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions] BEFORE my diagnosis, I did a final visit with one just to like triple-check that I didn’t also have another disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, that could explain this lingering pain. My entire workup was negative, except for the inflammatory markers in my blood that were sky high. So Lyme arthritis was here to stay 🤦🏻‍♀️ I had heard that permanent joint damage was a possibility in those whoseLyme was left untreated for a long time, but I had just hoped that wasn’t my case. 

My baseline at this point was pain, so I was given some prescription drugs that are used to treat arthritis and that was great, until I started having symptoms of stomach ulcers literally within a week. I’ve already been down the bleeding intestinal ulcer road and wasn’t trying to go there again. That’s when I started my research, trial and error and discovered Solgar No. 7

Solgar No. 7 is a joint supplement that contains ingredients such as vitamin C, Boswellia serrata, turmeric root, collagen, white willow bark, ginger root and pepper spices. These 7 ingredients combined into one supplement are claimed to provide improvement in joint comfort in just 7 days [hence where the ‘No. 7’ comes from] – and I can honestly attest to that.

→ Check out the Solgar website flyer here

This supplement has literally been a game changer. When I don’t take it for a few days I can seriously feel the difference – more pain and stiffness in my joints. I subscribe and save to this supplement on Amazon and I don’t go a day without it. With it, I’ve been able to work out in ways I couldn’t for a long time – a jog, the stairmaster, cycling classes – even just walking long distances or being on my feet all day is tolerable. 

If I never see the day where my arthritic joints are healed, at least I can feel like they are.

4 YEARS OF MISDIAGNOSIS, 1 LIFETIME OF SYMPTOMS

The controversy over the course and length of a “real” Lyme infection is still remaining. 

Some literature says chronic Lyme disease doesn’t exist at all and those persistent symptoms are “all in your head” OR are related to an entirely different disease. 

And some chose to call those forever-lingering ailments “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome”. 

Whatever the case may be, those persistent symptoms are REAL and they shouldn’t be dismissed. I’m tired of accepting sick as my “healthy.”

12 years after falling ill, 8 years after a diagnosis + 5 years after entering a “remission” (AKA a plateau in progress that I thought was my new “healthy”) – here I am with a “healthy” that is anything but that… 

  • Migraines
  • Tension headaches
  • Myalgias
  • Muscle tension
  • Inflammatory neuropathy
  • Fatigue 
  • Arthritis 
  • Vertigo
  • Brain fog
  • TMJ disorder
  • Acid reflux
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Gluten intolerance 

These everyday ailments are what I consider GOOD compared to the years I’ve had, but until I read that list aloud it hadn’t really clicked in my head (blame it on the brain fog???) that a 27-year-old with healthy living habits SHOULDN’T FEEL LIKE THIS, ever, and especially not on the daily.

I can’t believe I got comfortable feeling unwell, it sounds ridiculous yet it’s easier than you would imagine. But i’m not okay with that anymore 🙅🏻‍♀️ I may have to dive into my darkest memories that this disease casted on my life in order to heal from the root, but I’m looking out onto a brighter future — one that’s calmer, happier + healthy — I’m healing.

Do you have chronic or persistent Lyme disease? Are you “better” but not well? What stagnant symptoms have you been stuck with? Share below ↓↓