Tag Archives: academia

Brain Fog & the Blahs.

So the post title might sound like an unappealing band, but that’s the state of things at the moment, I’m afraid. Nothing big and horrible, just a whole bunch of small irritations and disappointments compounding to make me feel generally – ugh.

I applied for a job, which was huge for me; I’ve been talking myself out of it for so long that summoning the courage to actually apply took a lot. I sorted referees (terrifying! I hate asking people to vouch for me), bought interview-appropriate clothes (I’ve lost 16kg and all my tailored stuff now looks ridiculous) and updated my resume (a.k.a. engaged in a brief exercise of ‘let’s look at all the ways in which I have failed’). I didn’t hear back, so I’ve been doom-and-glooming about that, even though I rationally know that at least now I’m prepared for the next thing that comes along. I also was recommended for a position a friend is vacating, and was assured that I wouldn’t need to interview or anything, I’d just get it, and haven’t heard back about that either. I feel like, hey, you don’t even know how crap I am yet! Och well.

I’ve just switched to the slow-release of oxycodone, after being on fast-release for a couple of years. The latter worked well, but makes me hyperactive, so at night-time I’d have to choose between sleeping in the next three hours or pain relief. It also wore off too quickly to get by with one dose during uni days when out for several hours at a time, and the facial-but-especially-my-nose itching which has been a constant side-effect for me had worsened to the point of being unbearable lately.

So, I asked for slow-release, and on all those counts it is better – but the pain relief is less effective. And pain relief is kind of the most important thing when it comes to pain medication, right? I’ve been waking through the night feeling like the muscles in my back around my facet joint are burning (new and exciting pain symptoms, yay!), and my gait is worse because I can’t force my leg through the swing as I take a step in the way I need to. And because I am eternally terrified of seeming like a junkie, I will have to put up with it for a month until this script runs out.

Worse, I’m going on a date with my partner tonight, and have been looking forward to it, and now sitting through dinner and a movie is looming, horrible and insurmountable. I am determined not to (for the umpteenth time) get halfway through dinner and have to go home because my back hurts, but I also get really surly and curt when I have to work through pain. Not the best setting for an enjoyable romantic evening.

And last but most importantly for me, oh god the brain fog. It’s been particularly malicious for the past week or so. I’m trying to finalise a research proposal and rewrite then incorporate some theoretical content into a literature review, both of which are fairly highly demanding cognitive tasks (at least for me). My usual coping method during particularly bad bouts is to put the hard stuff on hold and do mindless busywork tasks, but my deadlines are looming and it needs to get done. It’s like mentally walking through very deep mud trying to have ordinary conversations (I felt like the world’s biggest moron in my last supervisor meeting), let alone produce fluent academic writing. It’s massively frustrating to be sitting there, knowing I know the perfect word to describe a complex concept and yet not for the life of me being able to retrieve it.

So, after all that whining, in an attempt to be constructive; help! How do you manage brain fog when you have to work through it? Any strategies that might help? I’m open to anything!

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Link Round-Up.

Also a little late this week, but a few things that have caught my eye recently in between journal articles:

http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/2013/02/03/how-to-say-no-to-everything-ever/

Sometimes saying ‘no’ is vital to our health – most chronically ill people I know have had to scale back significantly on commitments – but it can be really hard! This is a great formula for doing so kindly.

http://www.sarahwilson.com.au/2013/02/things-feeling-shit-full-its-ok/

An important reminder to keep digging when things are less-than-awesome.

http://www.aaup.org/article/chronic-illness-and-academic-career#.UR

Notes on being chronically ill in the academic sphere. While focused on academic staff, many of these issues also apply to students, and I’ve encountered difficulty with some of them, such as brain fog or fatigue being perceived as a lack of intelligence or motivation. My tertiary education has been a continuous struggle between being accorded accommodations I require for success without destroying my health, and the fear of being perceived as stupid and/or lazy.

http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/cluster-headaches

A personal account of living with chronic pain in the form of cluster headaches; a lot of the points in this resonated with me. Cluster headaches were one of my initial diagnoses when I started getting occipital neuralgia; I was glad it turned out to be wrong!

http://www.xojane.com/beauty/beauty-as-medication-its-an-effort-but-i-put-on-make-up-today

I liked this piece from a young woman with Crohn’s disease on getting dressed and made up to make yourself feel better when you’re sick. Putting on makeup (or even brushing my hair or showering) can be so hard when you’re fighting massive fatigue and pain, but if I can muster the effort to put myself together it usually does help, even if I’m the only one that sees it. Then again, I get anxious when my regrowth and eyebrows look bad (and it always happens at the same time!), so maybe that’s just me.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/quora/2013/01/14/medicine_and_hospitals_a_doctor_s_advice_for_being_admitted_to_a_hospital.html

Some aspects of taking care of yourself in hospital that wouldn’t have occurred to me as a patient, but certainly could be valuable, particularly for hospital ‘frequent fliers’.