Has Anyone Seen My Brain?

by Jennifer Iannolo | Print This Page

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So, I haven’t yet delivered the update video I promised in my last post, when I began my nutritional detox. The news is good, with significant weight loss, glowing skin and lots of pluses, so you’ll hear about that soon enough.

The other piece of this fibromyalgia phase is a bit tougher. I’ve spent the past few weeks coming to terms with having impaired brain function, and all the things I’ve made that mean. Dealing with sore muscles is one thing; dealing with a brain that needs mending is another thing entirely, and when the science and testing prove that it needs mending, there’s no hiding from reality.

I’ve always been smart.

I’m the girl who could read the newspaper at 4.

At 5, my school had me reading to the 6-year-olds at story time.

Smart is WHAT I AM.

Except that right now, the smart is kind of…sleeping, along with my right cerebellum. Conveniently, that’s the section that manages creativity, which is kind of a bitch when you are building a company*. And I still slur my words once in a while. (Yes, I will have a real doctor explain all of this in doctor language, but that’s enough to give you the gist, so work with me.)

In the midst of all of this I’ve had to let go of that SMART identity, because I was walking around feeling worthless. Without my quick thinking and big ideas, what good was I?

Words are my play things. Paper my canvas. When it takes me 20 seconds to find a simple word, I get frustrated. Angry. When I forget something because I didn’t MAKE SURE to put it in my calendar, it’s another reminder of my “lesser than” brain. Or I’ll have 3 good hours of amazing creativity and then crash.

The whole experience and dialogue has been similar to the one I had a few years ago, when I realized that I’d have to change my food and wine career if I was going to get well. The foods and wine I had so richly enjoyed now posed a series of physical challenges and consequences, so I had to manage that. Right now is another step in the process, and there will likely be lots more of those. But if you’re not careful, all of it can feel a little bit like mourning. OK, a lot like it, and I had a magnificently narcissistic pity party for a minute there. Thankfully I put time limits on those now, so it didn’t last too long before I came to my senses.

I’m determined to work around this temporary condition while I exercise that sleepy cerebellum on the right-hand side. And I think it’s catching on — it can be taught!

And bless his heart, Dr. G. has pointed out that every time I step into his office, I bring new ideas and things to build and ways to look at our collaboration. That helped.

As a lifelong workaholic all of this takes a bit of adjustment; there is so much to be done. Global initiatives to build. Voices that need to be heard, including mine. But I’m learning that it doesn’t all need to be done today, and that there is actually a team of people around me to help get it done.

I believe that it will all work out, and I’m learning, for the first time in my life, what patience really means. And some days it really takes something.

I’ve also let go of worrying that my blog posts are no longer eloquent, because it doesn’t really matter. I’m sharing all of this in case you’re feeling it too, and I don’t want you to feel alone. Or that you’re damaged goods.

And in looking at my condition, I’m always cognizant that there are others battling much more significant difficulties with ease and grace. They are farther down the road — hell, they own the road — because they’ve powerfully accepted what is so, and made peace with it. I tend to be somewhat…stubborn.

So I will get to the video, and I’ve also been working on an important project we’ll be releasing later this week, just in time for Fibromyalgia Day on May 12. It’s important enough that I’m willing to call it my manifesto, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

Now, some questions for you:

Friends with fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions — what did you have to accept in order to be at peace with your illness?

What are you still fighting?

*My original post had the brain sides and functions backwards. Shocker!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Smith May 15, 2013 at 10:24 am

I just went through a really bad bout of gluten-induced brain fog. I would sit down to do something and not remember why I was there. It is frustrating and scary. I do hope you are pulling through this and moving out of the fog!


drl December 13, 2013 at 2:00 am

There is gluten ataxia. Sounds like you may have it with the gluten issues. Not just celiacs, but people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should be GF as well.


Veronica Stephan-Miller April 23, 2014 at 12:20 am

I had to accept that between FM and a nasty concussion as a result of a car accident, that my brain function is much lower than it used to be. Having to put EVERYTHING on my calendar and/or notes has become a way of coping. Accepting that some days I am just not capable of ANY physical and/or mental activity has taken me years. I’ve lived with FM for as long as I can remember (symptoms go back to when I was 2yo and, yes, I CAN remember that long ago!) and with CFS for 13yrs now. Changing to a mostly raw vegan diet has helped, accidentally (or purposefully on rebellious occasions) having dairy/gluten causes painful flare-ups, and avoiding them helps. CoQ10 (in the form of ubiquinOL rather than unbiquinINE) has been a saviour. After 16mo of natural supplements, I am actively searching out part-time work again. My goal is to manage both the FM & CFS, and to return to full-time work over a 2-5yr period. Thank you for sharing 🙂


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