School and Cognition

 Yesterday was my first day of school, one class, English history. Should be easy right? Nope…

When I first left the house to catch the bus it was about 6:30am and already getting warm and humid but not bad enough to prevent me from getting to school. I got to school and made it into my class. I had been looking forward to this day for a while now, I wanted something to do, something to keep me busy, and I wanted to be around people. I was all ready, pens, paper, and my laptop for taking notes since I still can’t write by hand all that well.

Here is where it all went wrong. Lecture started right away, no easing into it, so I tried to listen. Now the instructor said that this class was not about memorizing dates, it was just to go over the basics of “what happened” which I thought was good because of my memory issues. So I am listening and right away I am noticing that I can’t stay focused, even though I was interested, my mind kept going off in odd directions. As she spoke she would say a word that would make me think of something unrelated and while I was thinking about this unrelated topic she is still teaching and I am missing all that she is saying. I would snap out of it and try to refocus but before she could even finish a sentence it would start all over. I felt like I was sitting down listening to someone speak a different language. On top of that were the noises of desks creaking, doors closing, and people coughing that were making my heart jump and distracting me.

The trip home sucked, it was already hot by 9:00am and by time I made it home I was dizzy and feeling… bad. I almost tipped over several time just standing there waiting for the bus as if the entire world was tilting around as I tried to stand still in one place. I was fatigued from the heat and now feeling depressed. I spent an hour and a half in a class and I couldn’t remember one bit of it.

I am not saying I can’t go to school and get a degree, many people have overcome far worse, I am just saying, I think I took on “too much” too soon. Think of it like this. When I relapsed back in February 2012 and wound up in physical rehab, it took me for ever to be able to lift a 1lb (1/2kg) weight! After much time I could lift a decent amount no problem. The brain is like a muscle and I feel like I still can’t “life as much” just yet. Trying to start a class was like trying to lift a 25lb weight when I was still only ready for 1lb… No matter how hard I try I can’t force it to “lift” more than it can physically handle… I need to exercise my way back to that point.

If I am having issues with comprehension then “trying harder” will not help, nor will recording a class and listening to it over and over. If I was to record someone speaking a language I do not speak, I could listen to it a thousand times but I will never understand it because I have to be taught what it means. No matter how hard I try, it will still not make sense, I have to learn to understand it first. Throwing myself “in it” will not cause me to eventually figure out let alone catch up!

So it’s depressing because now I see just how far I have to go… I don’t have all the time in the world… I need to get some sort of degree quickly so that I can get a decent paying job with health insurance before I turn 26 and loose what I have now. I feel like I am always behind…

So I decided to drop the class while I still could without getting screwed for it. If I stayed and got a bad grade it would be on my record so I wanted to drop it before it came to that so I could get a refund and use that money to join a different class next semester. I can then take an online class which would allow me to go at my own pace and focus more on points I do not understand without missing a bunch of other points while I think. It is depressing and I am so disappointed but I have to be smart about this or else it will ruin my record and it will have been a waste of money. It just sucks because not only amd I further behind then I thought but I really needed to meet people that I could talk to or hang out with but instead I am back in my bedroom, alone.

12 Responses to School and Cognition

  1. Cam H. says:

    Man, online classes are a blessing. And in your situation, they'd be perfect. Though keep in mind that a lot of them have recorded lectures, and they can be tough to sit through, even for us without MS.

  2. I have taken many before, I have never had a recorded lecture so I am not too worried about that. Online classes will be great EXCEPT it doesnt get me out and get me social with people, something I really need….

  3. Anonymous says:

    I really understand what you are talking about. Before I knew I had MS and was still working, so many parts of my job were off track. Once, when Power Point had just come onto the scene, I begged my Supervisor to let me and my employees take an expensive Power Point Presentation Course put on by the City I lived in. I got us all in to the 3 full day course.! Yaaaaaa….NOT!

    After the first day, I went onto my computer at work and tried to start putting together a presentation of my own…..I could not believe it. I did not remember one thing I was taught! I couldn't do it. The next two days were a blur, but I faked it through, looked like I was paying attention, but like you, I felt like the instructor was speaking a different language.

    So, like you, I was excited to take this course and use it and to learn something new. Its a good thing no one tested me on what I learned because I would have got a Zero! I was in charge of the Crime Prevention Program at work, so no one really knew how little I learned. At the time, I could not understand why!

  4. I wish there was a medication or program to fix this! No one pays mutch attention to cognitive issues, they just want you ambulatory….

  5. Anonymous says:

    To continue…..sorry about that.

    Just wanted to say….I really, really wanted to keep learning and get better at my job. Why couldn't I focus and why wouldn't anything stick in my brain! I did a lot of public speaking and teaching from what I KNEW and loved it. Eventually, I had to write down everything on white boards in the training room, so I could refer to them constantly, to keep myself on track. I still didn't know about the MS. I eventually left, went on disability and a year after that I was DX.

    I know what you said, I can't learn something new and just jump right in and make myself! It can't be done, when certain pathways now have a road block in the way!

    It really is frustrating and depressing to me at times too.

    You are right, you will have to modify what kind of class you take…one at a time…you NEED to get out of your bedroom before it swallows you up!

    Would it be possible for you to go to a library to study one topic, in air conditioning, and at least there are others in the room too. Its just a baby step, I know, but at least you are out doing something.

    I do believe we can recover from some of the damage from MS, but we don't know what parts will work properly again, and which parts won't.

    There were too many distractions at school, words bounce off our foreheads, before they get a chance to sink into our brain. GRRRRRRRRRRRR!

    Good luck with your next steps, as I really wish you .. well ..!

  6. Haha library? Oh I remember those! Full of those things like Kindles on paper! Bokes? Bukes? BOOKS!

    Haha I think our city has one that has closed and reopened, way out of date, in a bad part of town, so no… I am not sure that is a good spot for me, I wish w2e had a nicer one because I would be there everyday!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I've heard that attention deficit medications can help with this for those with MS.

  8. yeah so have I, but I have never been able to get Adderall because doctors think I am just some "kid trying to abuse the medication" but I might talk to my neuro about it when I see him.

  9. Emily O.D says:

    That is unfortunate that nobody will write you for Adderall – there are studies involving Adderall and cognitive processing speed in MS patients. I tried Provigil and Nuvigil first, but they gave me horrible headaches, anxiety issues and were not cognitively helpful for me. Ritalin was also not a great fit. I do find Adderall to be helpful.

    I am guessing your neurologist will not have a problem prescribing it if you tell him you are attempting to take classes and really struggling.

  10. Well, I have not asked this neuro yet, but he prescribes what works for the patient not his wallet so that is good. Neuvigil gave me "anxiety" like reactions as well, something I had never experience so I was like "what's going on with me???" lol… I am going to ask him about adderall when I see him in a couple weeks.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear All,
    Please understand that when you attend a campus you may be placing yourself in a sick building. Campuses often contain old buildings. Combined with residing in the Northeast (a predominately humid and cloudy area) or the west, near the ocean, (many foggy areas)you may be placing yourself in trigger based environment. Sick building occurs when humidity builds up in ventilation systems creating a wonderful niche for mold spores.

  12. Sam says:

    When will we have a cure of this. We are advancing by technology so much but still can't figure out this.Not good enough.

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