I have been struggling with work lately. And by lately I mean always. Always struggling to function through the pain. Always not quite doing it.
My psychologist said well I cannot compare apples to oranges. I cannot compare myself to people doing the same job perfectly healthy. Nor to myself when I was healthy-er. And it did occur to me that this job I am now doing wouldn’t even be a challenge to me when I was younger and in less pain than now. But the pain now has eaten away at my cognitive capacity with the FM and the chronic daily migraines. Not enough space in the brain to focus on much other than tolerating the pain.
Here is the Thing.
The thing is I am permanently this person that is confused, befuddled and living in a pain haze. This is who I am. No matter the job. Good days and certainly, by far, on bad days.
And I don’t like it. I don’t want to be this person. This person frustrates the hell out of me. I just want to do my job… hell A job effectively and efficiently as possible. Hell, I want to excel at what I put my mind to, as it was before the pain became such a living force. This person is plodding. This person’s communication skills get rather tangled up. Perhaps why I love writing so much is that I don’t feel the cognitive sting so much as I do in reality. The sharp snag to the working memory, the complete lack of short-term memory and where the hell is that long-term memory anyway. I want to get more sleep so I can shake off this infernal mental fatigue and this damn exhaustion. But I can’t because I can’t ever sleep decently and because it is a damn permanent state of affairs. Pain inhibits cognition and chronic pain therefore chronically. So I am stuck thinking through molasses forever.
So yes, I understand completely not to compare myself to people without chronic illnesses and pain. Or even to myself in my lesser state of pain. Never a good idea. However, I do rather trash myself because I cannot function the way I want to function. I am constantly limited and inhibited in my capacity. I am not content with the way I am functioning. I am aware of my capacity and very aware of this thick mental lag, fatigue, and sludge in the way of it. Just like I am aware of the profound difference between the ability to function on a good pain day and a bad pain day. Well a good day, still not a great day. I think we are all aware of that wall of fatigue and pain in the way of our thinking. All the little errors, glitches and failure to communicates that happen every single day.
That is my frustration at this point. The fact that with chronic pain, migraines specifically, I seem so cognitively impaired all the time. With migraines that can vary neurologically as well. Sometimes it is straight up aphasia that impairs my capacity to communicate. Sometimes the sensory distortions make it difficult to focus on reality. Sometimes the confusional states make it difficult to comprehend things. Mostly though it is straight up trying to just function through pain when pain is taking up all that brain capacity.
I’m not saying there aren’t things we can do for things like brain fog and fibrofog. I wrote something up about fibrofog Here. What I am saying is it never seems like I get a break in this area no matter what I do. Likely because the pain hasn’t given me a break. I have been reading a book on cognitive abilities and it recommends things like mindful meditation, exercise and brain games. None of which get rid of the pain that is triggering the issue in this case, but never hurts to keep the brain going strong when clearly it is having issues. For example, I already do mindful meditation for pain and if it can give me a cognitive boost that would indeed be a bonus, wouldn’t it?
I really miss the clarity of thought that comes with not having a migraine. It has been years since that was the case. But I do remember the last day it occurred. I remember how clear my thinking was. How crisp. How quick. How accurate. Then the cloud sank back down.