Cog Fog – Cognitive Issues in Multiple Sclerosis

pain, confusion, ms symptoms, cog fog

Recently, I literally couldn’t form full sentences.  I’m used to the usual “word fishing” but this was beyond that – it was full blown “cog fog” where I can’t keep straight what I’m talking about, doing, about to do, have done, etc.  I was walking around dazed and confused.  The anxiety of the situation was almost too much to bear.  I’m sure I was scaring my husband.  He could tell me something, and I just couldn’t keep it straight – not even for a minute.  I’d ask the same question repeatedly.  When I could come up with words to say, I had difficulty saying them.  It was bad.  As always, I thought this was it – the big one.  The one I wasn’t going to come back from.  This is how the rest of my days would be spent – cheerful, right?  Then, as if by magic, the cog fog lifted and I felt good again.  There is no more grateful person than one who has just recovered from something.  I went on vacation with my family, hoping beyond hope, that I wouldn’t be revisited by my old “friend” cog fog.  And I wasn’t.  In fact, the entire week of vacation, I felt fantastic.  It was the longest consecutive run of feeling good that I’ve had since my diagnosis 4 years ago.  Again I thought – this was it – the big turnaround.  Something had changed and now, I was going to be symptom-free from here on out.  With each passing day that I felt good, I felt stronger in my conviction that I was “all better.”  What a lovely feeling – and a false one.  Because – as if by MS magic, I was hit again.  I’ve always prided myself on being able to “act healthy” while around others.  In fact, the only person that I’ve totally let my guard down around has been my husband (poor thing!!).  He’s seen the pain, the weakness and the fatigue.  He’s seen me doubt and question and worry.  And now, so have a bunch of my friends.  It was my worst nightmare – in the best case scenario.  I went to “Bunko” (a really fun dice game) on Monday evening.  I’ve been playing with this group of women for 10+ years and I look forward to it each month.  After the initial hugs and “how are yous,” we got to catching up, a usually boisterous, laugh-out-loud time for us all.  However this time, I started feeling “that feeling” – the one that lets me know I am not alone.  It’s an ache to begin with, often building to full blown pain.  For some reason, I thought I’d feel better if I ate.  I didn’t, so I thought I’d feel better and have more energy if I ate some sugar.  I didn’t.  I could feel the energy draining out of the bottoms of my feet.  The pain became more intense.  My eyesight blurred and I had trouble tracking with what the ladies were talking about.  I panicked in my own mind, not knowing how to get out of there, how to hide the reality of it.  I waited as long as I could, thinking maybe this would pass quickly this time.  Unfortunately, it became too much.  I told the hostess I really wasn’t feeling well and thought I needed to leave.  Like a wave hit me from behind, I felt myself going down into that place I hoped to never be – a pitied sick person in front of others.  I had to lay down on the sofa while the others waited for me to recover.  When it became obvious that I wasn’t going to recover, one of them drove me home, another driving my car and another in the backseat keeping the conversation as light as it could be.       I did all that I could to joke and make fun of myself, etc.  I was so happy to see my home and my husband and my sweet friend, the recliner.  I was mortified and I just wanted to crawl under something.  They had seen my weakness, my inability to conquer the MonSter.  The lighten bolt pains that they witnessed in me, hurt them too – you could see it.  It was something I never wanted them to see, or feel or experience.  But they did.  And they handled it beautifully.  I’m so thankful I was among friends.  But, where will I be next time?  I’m such a social animal, but I have to admit, the thought of just staying in my safe home has crossed my mind.

Has this happened to you?  If so, where/what were the circumstances?  How did you handle it? Share experiences, share ideas, share strength.  And as always, say FUMS everyday.  There’s hope and strength in that phrase.  Take back the power!







Special thanks to Michael Marcol for use of the great photograph for this post.  His portfolio can be viewed at

6 thoughts on “Cog Fog – Cognitive Issues in Multiple Sclerosis”

  1. How terrifying!! I was diagnosed with MS 2 years ago and I have not experienced the “cog fog”. But, like you, I am always waiting for the BIG one. I have been very lucky in that I haven’t had too much trouble besides pain and fatigue and the occasional numbness and tingling. I love reading your posts and am thinking about starting a blog. What do you think?! I am only 24 with nobody to really talk to about what’s going on because I don’t want my family to freak out. It’s nice to see there are people who know what we’re going thru (as weird as that sounds!). I hope you have many good days ahead of you! Best wishes 🙂

  2. I read some of this out to my partner. He thought I’d written it because it’s more or less exactly what I went through last summer. I’m terrified it’s going to happen again.

    Hope it never comes again for you x

  3. I was diagnosed April 2011 and have this EVERY DAY still despite medication and exercise and everything they recommend… This and word-fishing and stuttering are my most annoying symptoms. Every day I am in a cog fog and I am totally stealing that saying! HOw inventive – and true!

    Jaime S

  4. I was diagnosed in 2005 and have had only a brief touch of full cog-fog. But word=fishing and stuttering have made almost weekly occurrence. As a district manager and a singer/songwriter this truely terrifies me! Communication is such a use part of my life. It’s good to know others feel this anxiety. FU MS and chive on!

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