by Jesse Loren
Unlike the Sacramento Region, which, as it approaches 30 degrees, sends out a freeze warning, there is no fog warning for the Lupus brain. I don’t pretend to understand it, but Lupus creates inflammation, and the inflammation gums up connections in the brain, making it hard to think.
Imagine all your friends have MacBook Pros with software updates and fast connection speeds, but you have Vista, dial up, and no virus protection. Your computer can’t even open the right program in the time it takes your friends to complete an assignment on theirs. It is this way with Lupus Fog.
In a Lupus Fog, I think I have said a name, but some other thing zips out. I try and answer basic information, like what year my daughter was born, and all I get is a 404 Error: File Not Found.
It’s generally fine if I am alone, if there is silence, if I can pace one job and nap between steps without pressure to finish. But teaching is not that kind of a job.
I work with high school students. Our student-teacher ratio for English is 39:1. Every hour brings a new group of students, five times a day.
When I started teaching ninth grade the ratio was 20:1. It was kinder to kids. It was kinder to teachers. With class sizes that have almost doubled, and more special needs kids pushed into regular education, the profession demand during each hour is staggering. Making slow, methodical decisions is a luxury I don’t have, and the Lupus Fog gumming up the synapses has made it nearly impossible to work.
Another contributing factor to Lupus Fog is the plethora of medications Lupus requires. My pill salad helps with inflammation, keeps physical symptoms from worsening, allows my immune system to stay in check, reduces pain, and reduces swelling. However, all those drugs also make my organs work harder. Even the brain organ.
I am tired.
I don’t want to be tired. I don’t want to be cranky. I don’t want to not remember your name. I don’t want to forget appointments. I don’t want to sit perfectly still after work, but sometimes that is all I can do. And if Lupus isn’t taking its toll, the medicine is.
Lupus is a lot like any other exacerbation-remission condition. There are good days and bad days. On the good days, I’ll be at Main Street Cellars having a glass of red wine with my friends. On bad days, I am exhausted and can’t work.
The hardest decision I have had to make as an adult is upon me: Disability retirement or more years at this pace. On the outside, I look fine: Sunny with little chance of rain. But on the inside, the fog warning is high and the check engine light is flickering.