Concentration is the Name of the Game

Are my people counting down the days until Christmas? Did you make those brown paper bag reindeer with the colored paper rings to keep track of each day until…? If you celebrate Christmas, well, Happy Christmas! And if you don’t, then Happy ——! We celebrate everything here. Why not? Life is so short. So only six days, my pretties.

Today, I want to explore the topic of Lyme and concentration. Or the lack of this skill, really. While I have never been a huge fan of multitasking – I think this word means doing a lot of things with less quality – I never struggled all that much to do it. In the past, working as a bartender, a waitress, a food and beverage manager, the skill of multitasking has served me well (no pun intended). As a teacher now, juggling 100 different things at the same time? No problem. B.L. though. Before Lyme. No Problem.

focus-and-concentration

Until Lyme. A.F.? After Lyme? Multitasking? Surely, you jest! Holding more than one thought in my head at any given moment? Impossible. Seriously. When I was first diagnosed about 3 years ago, I could barely even read anything over a paragraph long. For one, I had headaches or one headache, non-stop. Two, I could not follow a train of thought that lasted more than 4-5 sentences on paper. This also applied to listening to thoughts/conversations. The more I tried to concentrate, the harder it seemed to understand. It is difficult to explain. Some people call this brain fog. And while that is good description, it is also like being stuck in quicksand ( in real life, this has never happened to me but I’ve always been told I have a vivid imagination). So like quicksand, a thought would come into my brain and the more I tried to sort it out, extend it, apply it, the more it became unreachable in my mind.

And while I am using past tense verbs to describe this issue, this symptom does return periodically. I’ve noticed it becomes more amplified in several instances, such as when I am trying to get work completed on a deadline, when I am fatigued, when I am stressed, and when there is too much stimuli in my environment. It is the same exact way I used to feel in my twenties when I was busy  with work and college and sleep was a nap here and there. Just no concentration skills.

I guess I am thinking about this because of the holidays, the end of the semester, the stress, the lack of concentration, the brain fog, the quicksand, it’s all back and with a vengeance. But, these past few weeks at work have been nonstop kinda crazy. Finals for the community college, grades calculated, grades entered, students exempting or not exempting, students with grade issues, passing rates, plans for January, syllabus organizing and writing, end of the grading period, end of the semester, final exams, grading said final exams, and etc.! My colleagues are also feeling a little crazy so I am chalking up my exacerbated issues to the end of the semester shenanigans. To counteract my brain’s lack of focus, I like to sit in a dark room with absolutely no stimuli. This seems to help a bit.

Have you ever had these symptoms? Do you find it difficult to concentrate? How do you deal with it?

Hoping your Saturday is filled with good stuff – B

 

 

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A Reality Check

It’s December 12th, heading swiftly towards that blinged-out-commercialized-day of Christmas. I’ve put up a few decorations, the tree, some lights outdoors. The weather has been in the highs of 78-80 this week, but it is now pouring down rain and windy as all get out outside. We finally not only saw the snow geese (Canadian geese); we saw a few flocks of them as well. Supposedly, the weather is turning chilly in the next few days as a cold front creeps its way down here. I’ll believe it when I feels it.

Since my new doctor appointment early in November and since starting on the herbal tinctures as my new treatment, dropping the antibiotics, I actually have felt half-way decent. The fatigue has decreased, the migraines are few and far between, and the nausea is way less. It honestly has been a nice breather from the new normal of suckthelymeville. Thanksgiving break was pretty awesome. I was able to do a few things that I haven’t done in so, so long. It was a real treat!

But I knew these next few weeks would be the real challenge at work. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter break. While yes, technically, this is only a span of three weeks, believe me, it feels like six. It’s the end of the semester. Things are coming at teachers from every which way. It is always a tough time of year, but as usual, for me it is breaking me down. I know it did last year as well. I’m not trying to be whiny about it at all. It is what it is. I try to keep in mind that even for normal, healthy people, this time of year is extremely stressful no matter what profession and this helps a bit. But I will say this, by yesterday, I was all played out. All day long, my brain was empty and sore. I couldn’t focus on anything at all for more that a nano second. You laugh, but this is the truth. I tried to be productive. Now, I am laughing!

Today, I feel like a bus hit me. The soreness, the aches, the headache, the beloved (not!) nausea. I haven’t slept well in the past few nights and last night was no exception. Tossing and turning. Laying too long in one position produces pain, this wakes me, I turn over, kind of awake, then the process begins over. The unrestful sleep is killer and is just exacerbating all of the other awesome Lyme stuff. My head is hurting. Not a migraine, but just enough to make my stomach nauseous. I hate this combo of symptoms in particular. It feels like having the flu which is just downright miserable in and of itself. Only with Lyme, you don’t know when it might let up or go away. So, Reality Check.

 

Guess what, sucker? You still have Lyme disease!

I LOVE to fantasize. About activities, about going places, about projects at home, about eating yummy food without experiencing indigestion. It keeps my mind busy and delighted, it can sometimes distract me from the ugly gloogy gooks rumbling around in my body. And then. Sometimes, I go a bit overboard going so far as to actual Make Plans to do a said fantasized scenario. This rarely works out well. This holiday season, we have two events we have said “yes” to: an open house event and a dinner event. And even committing to these two things were difficult. While I definitely want to go and have fun with people, especially this time of year, I worry so much about getting to that day / evening, feeling terrible and then canceling. Not only is it disappointing for my people, and for my husband, but it is so freaking disappointing for me. The fantasy comes crumbling down, and I’m left with the slap in the face. That realization that I’m still limited. This is Reality.

How is everyone doing out there? Drop a comment or two so I know I’m not alone. Hoping it’s a pain-free day for all! -B

 

 

 

Proceed with Caution!

Yeah, so this is me right now. Up and down, up and down. Normally, I’m a very steady personality. I do not anger easily. I’m good under pressure and stress doesn’t phase me for the most part. Now, enter Lyme. Neuro-Lyme, specifically. Can someone just say, Stop the Madness?!?

rollercoaster1  And we’re off! When I was first diagnosed with Lyme disease almost 3 years ago, my major cognitive symptoms were short term memory loss, word recall, concentration  (I had NONE), and trouble reading.  All of those have improved over the course of treatment. If I am experiencing intense fatigue or stress, they all will rear their ugly heads. Monsters from the deep, I like to call them!

But probably for the past six to nine months, and uhm, this would be way more if you were to ask my hubby, I have experienced these weird mood swings. I guess they can be comparably to PMS mood swings and yet. Along with the mood swings, sometimes, anxiety comes out to play as well. I honestly can say I have never had anxiety except for maybe right before a huge exam or before speaking in front of a crowd. And I never called these feelings “anxiety.” I just called them stress. When I say mood swings, I mean like minute to minute mood swings. Yes, sometimes the mood swings can take a few hours but then sometimes, not so much. From the outside looking in, these swings really can be “crazy.”  Anyone else have this or had these in the past?

Example. We go to lunch. Everything is ok. We have a nice lunch, and we have cordial conversation. LOL. Then, afterwards, hubs wants to change the oil in my car so we have to go to another small town about 20 minutes away to get the oil. Yes, the joy of living in the country. Hubs asks me with all seriousness, “Are you going to be alright if we make this detour on the way home?” He means can I handle it energy-wise and mood-wise. Well, of course I can!

I’m good. We shop. I look at decorations. I look at shiny stuff. Then, I start getting tired. It hasn’t been a long time from when I first made the decision to go along with the oil shopping trip either. Really, in non-Lyme time,  it has only been about 20 minutes. I’m getting overloaded with stimulus and decision making – I’m trying to find some decorative tins for baked goods. There are a lot of people, a lot of talking, a lot of music. My head starts to feel foggy. By the time we check out, I’m done (and this is less than an hour trip mind you). Some strange time warp happens, and I start acting like a 2 year old who needs her nap. My husband is confused by my behavior, as am I. On the way home – a whole 15 minutes – he’s like, “Hey, I thought you said you would be alright?” Sure thing. Me too! I made a point that I never used to be this way, mood changing faster than the weather, and he agreed.

Overall, yes, the neuro-symptoms are improving but I’m still having these mood swings. Happy one minute, bummed the next. Upbeat and positive, then solemn grumpy pants. Pepper in some anxiety, and presto! Inner Gremlin appears!

So, how many of you suffer mood swings and/or other neuro-Lyme symptoms? And how do you manage these?

Until we meet again……Peace, B

P.S. This site has some solid information regarding neurological symptoms and Lyme.  www.neuro-lyme.com