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However, I’ve come to realize that Sudoku puzzles are a wonderful way to gauge just how much my fibromyalgia is actually affecting me, particularly the brain fog part. On a normal day for me in life with fibromyalgia, I can complete a medium-level Sudoku puzzle with a little careful thought. On my better days, the numbers of these medium-level puzzles come easier. On a great day or at least a moment of clarity, I actually have a good chance to finish a hard-level Sudoku puzzle or two. But on my difficult days, I’m lucky if I can make heads or tails of a beginner's Sudoku puzzle.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I’ve been sick with a nasty cold, and I slept about 12 hours the night before into yesterday morning. By the time bedtime rolled around, I was tired but my body wasn’t ready to sleep. So, I logged onto Facebook and decided to play a little Sudoku. I was so in the zone and so clear of mind (even with a head cold and it being after 1 am!) that I actually finished a difficult Sudoku puzzle and scored the highest points in my entire history of playing that Facebook app.
But not even 12 hours later, I tried to play Sudoku again on Facebook, and now I can’t even finish an easy Sudoku puzzle. I slept for nearly 8 hours. I awoke feeling fairly refreshed (well, at least for a fibro sufferer). But the clarity is gone again. I’m back to struggling to think through the brain fog that normally lurks in my head. Gone is the feeling that it all makes perfect sense. Gone is the sensation that I’m finally myself again. Gone is the almost effortless thought process that so many people take for granted every day.
If you are a fibromyalgia warrior like me suffering daily from brain fog, know that you aren’t alone. If you are a friend or a loved one of someone with fibromyalgia, this is especially for you. The fibromyalgia sufferers in your life are not faking it or being negligent or lazy. Their memory and cognitive problems are real and overwhelming. During one of their bad days, they are going to need your support more than ever. Just imagine how you would feel if you temporarily forgot names or phones numbers you’ve known for years. Imagine how difficult it would be for you to suddenly be unable to properly express yourself to others because you can’t find the right words at the moment. Imagine how frightening it would be if you forgot where you were or how to get back home for a while.
The worst of these scenarios are usually short lived and only happen occasionally, but just take a moment to imagine how unnerving and awful such an episode would be. And try to fathom how difficult and frightening it is to know it will probably happen again, but you have no idea when or how it will affect you next time. You can’t prepare. You can’t prevent it. The possibility is always lurking around every corner. That, my friends, is what it is like living with fibro fog. Please keep that in mind the next time the fibro warrior in your life forgets something important or does something that seems completely ridiculous. Living with fibromyalgia is a lot harder than most healthy people assume.