Thursday, September 21, 2006

One of the most frustrating things about living with fibromyalgia is the brain fog. I remember the onset of my brain fog fairly clearly- I graduated from the DLI Korean course with honors (somehow), and I began to believe that stuffing my head full of Korean had somehow overfilled my mind, so that I was no longer able to remember things. I thought I had memorized as much as I ever could, and that this sensation of being brain dead was just something I would have to live with until my brain processed all the Korean I had crammed into it- or at least, I hoped that I would eventually process everything and go back to normal, that was the hope I clung to.

I actually began to experience the symptoms of brain fog even before I graduated, but I chalked it up to learning Korean. I could look straight at someone who was speaking English calmly and simply, and not understand a word they were saying. Good for me, according to my instructors that meant that I was learning to think in Korean- and I was, to a certain extent. But I no longer think in Korean, I haven't spoken the language aloud in a year and a half, and I still have problems comprehending spoken English at times. I attribute it to being tired, and get away with it, but although I don't admit it to the people I mishear, I know better. There is something wrong with my mind.

I have always considered myself to be a linguistic sort of person, a characteristic I most likely get from my mother, who is a speech therapist by education and a Renaissance educator by nature. Before I could even speak, I loved being read to; although I don't remember doing so, my mother says I taught myself to read before I was five. Before I entered first grade, I was reading chapter books along the lines of Little House on the Prarie, and by sixth grade I had graduated to the Classics and Science Fiction sections of our local library. I think I read every single science fiction paperback that library had to offer by the time I left town at 16- a feat I managed by putting myself through high school at top speed. A key part of that plan was 3 English credits in one year, which I managed by not only reading 50 different works of literature and writing a paper about the themes I found in them, but also by writing several short stories and a collection of poems as well as a 20 page research paper on Woodstock '68. I have often dreamed of making a living as a writer, although I've never honestly believed that my writing is good enough to con people into paying for it.

All of this makes it even more devastating when I stop short in the middle of a sentence, forgetting not only what I was saying, but the words that could be used to say it. I stutter, not because I have a stutter per se, but because as I am speaking, I lose the words I intended to use. They drop out of the middle of my sentences, leaving me abruptly lost. It's embarrassing. But not only does it make me blush, it frightens me. To be unable to rely on my own mind is a terrifyingly lonely feeling.

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