By Julie Eller, Co-host of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast
Inflammation can wreak havoc on your body and mind. While we think of arthritis mostly affecting our joints, inflammatory arthritis can entail many other symptoms. I have been living with my arthritis for nearly two decades, and right now, my arthritis pain is under control. But one symptom of my disease is ever–present in my life, and frankly, it is the symptom that I find most frustrating: brain fog.
Many patients living with arthritis and other chronic illnesses report experiencing brain fog. Brain fog is an illustrative way to describe the phenomenon many people face when their disease causes them to lose their sharp mental clarity. Brain fog feels like a cloud has been cast over your brain, making it more difficult to find the right words, compute or problem solve, and especially commit things to memory.
Brain fog has been my worst enemy throughout my experience living with arthritis. It always felt unfair in my childhood that flaring joints could pull me out of the sports I loved, the dance classes, the theater productions, and more. But it felt downright cruel that my disease could levy an attack on my brain as well.
Above all the activities I cherish, I love to learn. I was the annoying kid the classroom that made it my business to do well in class, participate, to read ahead – and this has, of course, translated into my work life. I love to lead projects, think big and ideate about the steps we need to take to get to our goal. In my early career I figured out the ways I would need to tackle my joint pain to remain successful at my job. There is a heating pad plugged in at my workstation ready to go whenever I need it, ice packs within reach, and CBD cream in my top drawer.
But one thing I don’t have a salve for is my brain fog. And when my brain fog rears its ugly head, that’s when my arthritis feels out of my control. Because that’s when it infringes upon the time I cherish most: my working, learning, thinking time. Brain fog is not something that I have learned to conquer fully, even in my almost twenty years living with this condition.
That’s why I am so excited about our latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast. During the episode, we talk with expert guests about the science of the symptom, the research that is being done to better understand the phenomenon, and how we can work with our health care team to beat brain fog. Listen now to the Brain Fog & Arthritis episode to learn more!