• author
    • Jesse Loren

    • December 2, 2014 in Columnists

    Brain fog

    Imagine the tulle fog hovering over the vast stretches of farmland, rolling onto the roads like a slow, heavy blanket. Imagine the traffic slowing and slowing.  A big piece of farm equipment, ahead in the road – a backup of lights. This is brain fog.

    Mine looks like this. I offer to make my daughter oatmeal. I have made oatmeal thousands of times in my lifetime. In this particular kitchen, I have made oatmeal for 20 years. I reach for a metal pot and I place it on the counter. I try to remember where the oatmeal is, and I remember it is in a jar on the counter. I open the drawer of measuring cups and can’t make sense of what I am looking for. I close the drawer all together and reach for a liquid measuring cup. I put two cups of water, pour it in the pot. I dry the cup. For a moment, I forget what I am doing. I like the tactile slipperiness of the cup and the towel rubbing inside of it. It’s like a big piece of farm equipment in the road. The lights are backing up. Other drivers are backing up and trying to decide how to go around. The lights are lost in the fog.

    I place the measuring cup on the counter and get the oatmeal measured and in the 4 quart pot. Then I turn west, toward the window, toward the table with the idea the microwave might be this direction. (F+%&) I have never had a microwave west of the refrigerator. I spin around. The brain traffic is slowing. I move east in my kitchen toward the microwave and try to put the large pot in it. My brain has jumped the shark. Metal pots do no cook in the microwave.

    I laugh at myself. Bad brain fog. Then place the pot on the stove. That was funny. I tried to cook a pot in the microwave. I sit down to have coffee and find something to read. It was interesting. I remember none of it. I hear the sizzle of boiling oatmeal and jump up to give it a stir.

    “Oh yeah, the oatmeal,” I think to myself.

    My daughter is working on the computer and asks me if I can help her with cutting and pasting a flyer for work. I really can’t do that today. I sit down and let the oatmeal rest. I read a story about a little girl being kicked out of school in Orinda. I remember that content because she is brown, the school is white, and it resonates for me. The fog continues to roll in. I forget the oatmeal and it turns to a cold solid. I see it and can’t remember when I started it. On the counter are bills for my mom’s estate. Stuff I have to process, write down, pay.

    We eat a little cold oatmeal and talks about her flyers.

    Today is infusion day for me. I’ll go to the Cancer Center in Sacramento and I’ll get a slow drip of a biologic medicine that will in turn, reduce the inflammation in my body. My frozen shoulder joint will move more and the fog will clear for a while.

    My daughter watches me sit down and do nothing in a chair.

    “Mom, when is your infusion?”

    “Today at 1:00,” I say.

    She says, “I’m going to leave you alone so you can rest.”

    She knows there is nothing to do but wait. There is no blame to assign, no ghosts to appease. It’s brain fog. My family has watched it work on me for years.

    Lupus does this. I work in spurts. There is no way to work or be productive with any schedule that does not honor it. Let the fog pass, slow down. Drive safely.

    Stay away from the stove.


    • Add to lupus brain fog… menopause and grief. These things surely amplify it. They can cause it all on their own. Write yourself memos when your brain is being uncooperative, and just accept that as “OK.” You need memos to remember things, and you are perfectly OK, just the way you are.

    • A strong piece. Brain fog seems to be a component of many inflammatory conditions. I have a milder case with Chronic Fatigue. Letting it pass works for me, that and an anti-inflammatory diet. . Drive safely.

    • I ended up accidentally leaving the burner on all day. I went to infusion and when I came home, husband let me know I left it on all day. Oops.

    • Beautifully written Jesse. Sorry you have these days but glad the fog lifts and you are infused with energy.

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