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Cognitive changes in MS
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Cognitive changes in MS

My last MRI was in Feb. 2010 and along with clearly defined brain lesions, physicians told me I have moderate brain atrophy.

Having recently been diagnosed with MS, I finally have answers into the cognitive changes/dysfunction I have been experiencing for so long.  These symptoms as many of you are aware, are: “brain fog,” forgetfulness (mainly recent events, not being able to recall names almost immediately after I hear them, or not being able to recall details of what I just read or heard), lack of focus/concentration, trouble finding the right words in a conversation, difficulty recalling familiar words.  

One of the most frustrating things is when I have a couple of thoughts about something I am doing, and as quickly as the thoughts/ideas appear, they disappear just as fast.      

I know there is quite a bit of information available, but I'm looking for a more “human element” with this problem.  What are people's experience's in dealing/coping with the emotional aspects associated with cognitive problems in MS.  Also, what have people found useful in trying to compensate for cognitive deficits.  

Hope this post makes sense!  
Pax
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987762_tn?1331031553
I know, I know, I know...........I'm the optomistic extravert, people would say "if i'm not talking in person then i'll be on the phone talking" i've always been able to count on my ability to communicate, i'm highly verbal lol. I first noticed something wasnt right when my son started school (2001), I started forgetting peoples names, these were not new people's names, this was quite minor, on and off and i'd always find an excuse to justify it to myself.

In 2008 i got pretty sick with what i thought was a bug, i'd resently gone back to working, change in career etc. bad Hug, double vision, muscle spasms and weakness of epic proportions, i took a few weeks off work and when i returned i'd lost everyones names and the tremors i thought were from being weak, stayed.

In 2009 I got sick again, i wasnt prepared for what happened to me, i was walking like a string puppet, legs of lead, tremors rattling my bones, spasms, double vision, slurring and stuttering, and now i couldnt name my children or family. I soon realised that it wasnt just peoples names i'd lost, i'd lost all nouns, just the nouns, and there was nothing normal about it, no more excuses!

My family have been great, though so use to me talking their ears off, they helped me when ever i got stuck for a word. I started improvising with descriptions of what i was trying to say and they would then work it out for me. eg blah blah blah, whats that white stuff i put in my coffee [milk] yes milk, can you add milk to the thing [shopping list] yes shopping list, we need to go to the place we buy things [supermarket] yes supermarket.

It's not that bad anymore but i'm still not the same, it took almost a year before i could have a seemingly normal conversation, i still struggle finding my nouns, some days worse than others but thankfully its not like it was. I dont talk half as much, talk even less on a bad day, i miss me somedays.

I've also become ADD-ish, loose track of my own thoughts, with conversations I have to really consentrate on whats being said, i'm use to multi tasking but i cant now or i'm just stuck and dont know what to do or where to start. My executive functions are toast, way too easily derailed by the unexpected, there have been a few upsetting moments when my mental ability or should i say lack there of, that difference in who i've always been, just so obviousy not who I use to be.

Oh and i dont have a dx, limbo land, lots of evidence, ahhhhh but thats another story.

Cheers.......JJ

PS. Sarah, its very difficult to assess brain shrinkage, microscopic shrinkage is more than enough to cause cognitive difficulties, almost imposible to see on MRI. TIA's which were thought to leave no lasting affects are now known to cause cognitive changes. Do you know how your neuro determined his evaluation of no brain shrinkage?
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8 Comments Post a Comment
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572651_tn?1333939396
Greetings - have we crossed paths here before now?  I don't remember so if not, let me send a warm welcome to our community.  If we have and I have already forgotten, add that to the lisst of my cog problems!

Everythin g you list here I was agreeing with as I read your post.  I have started therapy to work on cognitive skills.  I'm wporking on learning new skillsthat will help, especially my short term.recent memory problems.

The worst for me iswhen I open my mouth to talk and the totally wrong words come out- does that happen to you?

welcome again and I hope to see you around,
Lulu
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560501_tn?1383616340

  Yes!  Your post makes perfect sense.  I can certainly relate to everything that you
have written.  While (as Lu said) there are some things that you can do to try and help work on cognitive skills.......But w/ Brain Atrophy I am not sure these things are really affective. However I could be wrong..

   I think that when one comes to the point when they have actual atrophy that some meds (Aricept) may help in some ways. It is however srill good to try and do some kind of cognitive excercises for the rest of the non Atrophied (is that a word?)   Here is some info I found on the web:

     Atrophy of any tissue means loss of cells. In brain tissue, atrophy describes a loss of neurons and the connections between them. Atrophy can be generalized, which means that all of the brain has shrunk; or it can be focal, affecting only a limited area of the brain and resulting in a decrease of the functions that area of the brain controls. If the cerebral hemispheres (the two lobes of the brain that form the cerebrum) are affected, conscious thought and voluntary processes may be impaired.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerebral_atrophy

      Hope some if this info is of value to you as well as made sense...Lol
Sometimes I will post something, then look back at grammar, spelling, and word phrases, then think "What the heck?"

Have a good weekend,
~Tonya
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Avatar_m_tn
the symptoms you mention started some years back for me when i was at my job in Berkeley. little be little it started. and back then the sharp irritability started too. i became more frustrated with it not being so easy to express myself verbally, and i am not a talkative type person to begin with.

the frustration of some folks finishing sentences for me at work would really bother me. it felt like i couldn't speak fast enough for them, which in my head caused me frustration but was easier to shrug it off back then.

it just made me be a bit more introvert than what i already was.

back then and as now, i was going to other help groups, and it got frustrating there too trying to say what i meant and yet always feeling like i never did due to the repsonses or feedback from others, IMHO

and that has gotten some worse today. not so with the MS groups but others and other social things in general. too, my hearing has become worse, so that doesn't help. and the hearing losss or lack of understanding is neurological according to the ear doctor.

the forgetfulness started back then too but not as much as today. i take galantamine to help me with the "why did i walk in this room" type of thing.  if others are in my truck with me i usually get the "why are you going this way, it is back there", sort of thing. that is i'm taking the looong way around. i get a little lost too. like trial and error to find a place. LOL

i compensate by:

i had a temp job recently but quit due to my own frustrations with myself and the chronic discomfort. i was just never on the same page and stuff.

i still live alone and maybe some of this is the reasons why

i just act like i hear what others are saying.

i still try to program some on some home projects to keep my mind solving problems.

i text more than i call people, as i find that way easier for me.

i quit trying to explain it to people as i found out no one but people with MS or the like even give a hoot.

i live in my head a lot due to talking i find more effort than i care to put in most times.

i prefer to drive alone

your not alone, for whatever that is worth
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1253197_tn?1331212710
Just to add a quick post ....my neuro said that my brain had NOT shrunk but I still find I am very forgetful which I know I did not used to be. I sometimes get my words muddled up in the wrong way, forget people's names and start a sentence without finishing it.

I often go into a room and cannot remember what I am looking for, or into the fridge or store cupboard.  Yesterday I knew I had taken something out of the fridge for supper (it was some cheese sauce in a packet). I thought I was going mad and looked everywhere (including the dishwasher!!)...until I looked outside and saw it in my dog's mouth...haha...phew not so mad after all!!!

I find my typing has got worse (so I have to look for errors more...or just not worry in the hope that everyone will understand on this forum and may not even notice!!!

Where was I?????

Love Sarah xxx
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987762_tn?1331031553
I know, I know, I know...........I'm the optomistic extravert, people would say "if i'm not talking in person then i'll be on the phone talking" i've always been able to count on my ability to communicate, i'm highly verbal lol. I first noticed something wasnt right when my son started school (2001), I started forgetting peoples names, these were not new people's names, this was quite minor, on and off and i'd always find an excuse to justify it to myself.

In 2008 i got pretty sick with what i thought was a bug, i'd resently gone back to working, change in career etc. bad Hug, double vision, muscle spasms and weakness of epic proportions, i took a few weeks off work and when i returned i'd lost everyones names and the tremors i thought were from being weak, stayed.

In 2009 I got sick again, i wasnt prepared for what happened to me, i was walking like a string puppet, legs of lead, tremors rattling my bones, spasms, double vision, slurring and stuttering, and now i couldnt name my children or family. I soon realised that it wasnt just peoples names i'd lost, i'd lost all nouns, just the nouns, and there was nothing normal about it, no more excuses!

My family have been great, though so use to me talking their ears off, they helped me when ever i got stuck for a word. I started improvising with descriptions of what i was trying to say and they would then work it out for me. eg blah blah blah, whats that white stuff i put in my coffee [milk] yes milk, can you add milk to the thing [shopping list] yes shopping list, we need to go to the place we buy things [supermarket] yes supermarket.

It's not that bad anymore but i'm still not the same, it took almost a year before i could have a seemingly normal conversation, i still struggle finding my nouns, some days worse than others but thankfully its not like it was. I dont talk half as much, talk even less on a bad day, i miss me somedays.

I've also become ADD-ish, loose track of my own thoughts, with conversations I have to really consentrate on whats being said, i'm use to multi tasking but i cant now or i'm just stuck and dont know what to do or where to start. My executive functions are toast, way too easily derailed by the unexpected, there have been a few upsetting moments when my mental ability or should i say lack there of, that difference in who i've always been, just so obviousy not who I use to be.

Oh and i dont have a dx, limbo land, lots of evidence, ahhhhh but thats another story.

Cheers.......JJ

PS. Sarah, its very difficult to assess brain shrinkage, microscopic shrinkage is more than enough to cause cognitive difficulties, almost imposible to see on MRI. TIA's which were thought to leave no lasting affects are now known to cause cognitive changes. Do you know how your neuro determined his evaluation of no brain shrinkage?
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627818_tn?1271780626
Yep! I can identify quite easily now more than ever having just had an exacerbation. It is getting some better as I progress but has come and gone in the past as well. The scariest thing was forgetting where the comma was on the keyboard! I've been typing since I was 15 and have made my living using a computer, so that was pretty weird. But I have had all the sympoms you mentioned. I have to slow down now when I type because I forget how to spell (I was an A+ speller) or leave words out.  Certainly no fun! I think I've gotten quieter also. Well, I'm off work, so that is part of it, but I still am quieter when in a group. So, you are not alone!
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1307298_tn?1305950451
After reading this post, I just realized that I forgot to ask my doctor about any cognitive rehab therapy that might be good for me -- for memory, word finding, etc.  Ironic that I *forgot* to ask my doctor about getting help regarding my *forgetfulness*.  There is some humor in it after all.  

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5212540_tn?1365197443
That sounds like the conversations I have around here.  The other day I said something about the blue... uh, wood... uh, square... uh, sit...

Husband figured it out only because I was frantically pointing at the turquoise-upholstered wooden chair with the square arms!

- Lisa
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