Learning to Navigate Cog Fog
The cog fog (cognitive fog) is thick and heavy. I cannot seem to extract words from the alphabet soup that fills my head. This is torturous for a self-described word nerd. And as my MS progresses, so does the fog.
Slowed cognition has become one of the most frustrating symptoms to manage. I am operating through a thin veil of haze, never quite able to sharpen my thoughts. It is harder to reach through to the other side. While it has been present for some time, only lately has it begun to interfere with daily living.
Among friends and family, my impaired cognition is the norm. When I fade mid-sentence or struggle to find a word, they patiently wait for me to regroup. It becomes painfully notable when conversing with strangers. The space between words becomes vast, and people often interject to cover the awkward silence. Frustration then throws my train of thought further off track.
Some women love their bodies, while others adore their hair or nails. Me? I love my brain. My job in college (UC Irvine) was to take notes in class. Students who missed the class then purchased my notes from the school. My brain stayed sharp. I devoured books just because, and I enjoyed getting lost among the characters and plot twists. I took for granted the ease with which I assimilated information. Reading and writing came easily.
When I was 7 or 8, I came home from school sobbing. I ran to my mother and said a classmate had called me a horrible name. My mother braced herself to hear myriad four-letter words. Through hiccups and alligator tears, I proclaimed that she had called me a poor reader. My mother held me and laughed while I cried.
I have a unique and nostalgic appreciation of what I have lost. My lust for literature remains, but my ability to comprehend is severely impaired. These sentences are formed after hours of piecing together words and ideas. The fluidity is gone; in its place is longing for what used to be.
That said, I persevere. I take baby steps and make cumulative strides. I thrive as a columnist and a research associate for a company that embraces my handicap. I do what I can with what I have.
This journey has been difficult, and each loss has brought with it a lesson. I hold appreciation in place of expectation. I value abundance in place of want. And as I continue this journey, I may pause to seek understanding. I may rest while I learn to assimilate. But I will never stop striving to be the best version of myself.
And through the fog, I have learned to see clearly.
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