MS Cognitive Dysfunction Frustration and Tips: Part I

Read what others have to say about MS-related cognitive dysfunction.

Brain with multiple sclerosis. Credit: Photo Researchers / Getty Images

Lately, I have felt that my thinking is more impaired from MS cognitive dysfunction than usual. Years ago, my instinct would have been to "fight it" or to "push through," the fog surrounding my thinking. I would have worked harder at understanding the plot of a complicated story, rereading pages of books and quizzing myself until I "got it."

While that approach is certainly appropriate for certain situations, especially at work or school, I have decided that in other circumstances, such as visiting with friends or reading for pleasure, I would like to focus more on enjoying myself and less on whipping my brain into functioning.

I've put together a couple of tips that have helped me have a little more fun during these days of increased mental malfunctioning (read Tips for Dealing with Cognitive Dysfunction in MS and More Cognitive Dysfunction Tips). I would like to think that I will see more mental sharpness when it finally gets cooler, or when things at work settle down a little, but until then, I am going to be nice to my brain.

Here are some of the experiences and tips that I have gotten from many of my readers over the years:

"I have found that certain games on Facebook help me alot. I do the ones that I have to find hidden objects and try to remember where they are weeks later."

"I fully understand that there are cognitive issues. at 57 I find myself more fearful because I cannot grasp a “big picture.” I cannot seem to reason and problem solve. I also find friends are silently slipping away to be with their friends that don’t interrupt suddenly, or give more information than is needed, or totally veer away from the question that was asked. I try to curb the impulses. but I interrupt because I lose the concentration, then won’t remember the comment or question I wanted to ask the speaker later."

"I used to work in a bank. Just couldn’t do it anymore!! I get so embarrassed at times cause I just don’t feel like “me” anymore. I used to be on top of the world, and considered myself as being a fairly intelligent person, but some days now, I just feel like a loser."

"I have noticed an increase in cognitive issues over the last 3 months. While I try to write lots of notes and mark calendars I am still not where I want to be. I decided that I am going to give Technology a try. I got an iPad for games and will be getting a new phone that I can link to my calendar at home and work to set timed reminders. My Neurologist has suggested that I try Aricept."

"Many years ago, my neurologist wrote me a prescription for Provigil, a drug for narcolepsy, to help with my fatigue (and it does). In recent years, research has shown that Provigil, and now Nuvigil, also enhances memory. Talk to your neurologist about these drugs. I have never felt I was experiencing any kind of cognitive dysfunction at any time. I have had PPMS for 24 years, so if it was going to happen, it certainly has had time to do so. I work from home. If I was forgetting things, my clients, as well as my husband, would notice and say something."

"I’ve wrestled in the past with cognitive dysfunction, and I’m sure I will again. I recommend learning a new skill and exercise. Those two things in combination help to grow and establish new neurons, so that the brain can counter the damage. I got back to 65-70% of my function with online games and exercise, and I feel even better now. I’ve been learning a musical instrument for the last three years, and I really think it helps the corpus callosum function better."

Read MS Cognitive Dysfunction Frustration and Tips: Part II

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