How I’m Getting Through a Brain Fog Day

In October, I learned that for the first time since my diagnosis in 2011, I had actually gotten my thyroid hormone levels to what I consider optimal. Exciting, right? Then I went over three months without brain fog, and it was incredible.

Sunday, my throat started to hurt a bit - a classic hypothyroidism symptom (I know it’s also a COVID symptom, but this sore throat comes and goes in a matter of hours; I’ve taken care all week to be masked and outdoors whenever I’m away from home as I couldn’t book a test before my isolation period would be up anyway) - and I took my temperature to see if I had a fever and my temperature was the lowest it had been since October - I had been hovering around 98.2 which is actually warm for me, approaching a normal person’s body temperature - and I was getting 97.7 (classic mediocre thyroid for me) and even 97.5 (bad sign, y’all). I was feeling a little more fatigued than before and then I realized that the weather has turned pretty cold for here, and remembered that cold weather can impact thyroid function.

Then this morning, I woke up with brain fog.

I have a dream job right now, and one of the things that makes it a dream job is that it involves reading and synthesizing a lot of information.

But these are really hard tasks with brain fog.

So I decided rather than to try to push through the brain fog, I would work with it, largely due to a timely newsletter from Katy Peplin about “dressing” for the brain weather you have.

Here are the things I did today to try and work with this brain fog:

Gave the day a soft reset. After breakfast and a cup of coffee, I went to bed and closed my eyes and listened to an episode of 30 Rock. This gave me a bit of clarity.

Blogged through it. So then I got up and to get my head in the game for work, I wrote the last blog post of my Connected Learning series. But then I was worn out.

Had a snack and read some fiction. Specifically, The Language of Thorns.

Went back to bed, again. I set an alarm to make sure I wouldn’t be down for more than 40 minutes (20 minutes to fall asleep + 20 minutes to actually sleep). This time, I got up and actually felt like I could do stuff.

Had lunch. I always am energized after a meal.

Figured out what work I could actually accomplish in this haze. At first, I thought I didn’t have anything I could get done without intense mental effort. Then I realized that in some notes I made yesterday, I had said, “We might want to make a checklist…” Making a checklist and populating it is definitely something I could do, so that’s what I focused on.

What’s next? Well, because I didn’t want to be indoors around strangers when I had a sore throat, I rescheduled some appointments I had this week for 2 weeks from now, which means I won’t be able to talk to my doctor about this feeling for a couple weeks. But I also don’t want to live through the next two weeks in a fog. So I’m going to up the amount of l-tyrosine I’m taking. I wouldn’t do this except that it is the thing I did most recently that got my thyroid hormone levels to that optimal place and it’s easy to go back down. This is an amino acid that a person with hypothyroidism should definitely talk to their doctor about using. If I start to get palpitations, I’ll go back down. But my hope is this will clear the fog.

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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