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Friday, March 28, 2014

Brain Fog Friday

11:08 AM 1 Comments's certainly been foggy around here the last few days, and I don't mean the kind that hangs low across a frosty field.

Brain FOG - one of the darnedest, most frustrating symptoms of living with Multiple Sclerosis. What is brain fog you ask? It's a bit hard to explain the weirdo feeling, suffice it to say I feel like my brain has turned to scrambled eggs and I have devil of a time making sense of things. In my case it usually comes along with it's pal horrible fatigue, and you can bet your last dollar that it will happen if I get too tired or have some kind of sensory assault.

Web MD defines it this way: 

4 Brain Fog Basics

Brain fog is a catchall term for all sorts of brain changes that can come with MS. Here are four things to know.
  1. It's common. About half the people with MS have these issues at some point, says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist and vice president of clinical care at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. For most, the cloudy thinking is mild and manageable. Only 5% to 10% of people with MS have issues with their thinking that seriously affect their day-to-day life or career.
  2. It can affect your short-term memory, attention, and concentration. It can muck up your ability to retain new information and plan.But it doesn't usually affect your intelligence, reading comprehension, or long-term memory.
  3. It may get worse over time, but it may not. Once you have episodes of brain fog, they usually don't go away completely. They are more likely to progress slowly.
  4. It can have many causes. Sometimes the fog is triggered by actual changes in the brain caused by MS. But it can also be brought on by other issues -- like depression, fatigue, and side effects from medication.

I define it as a pain in the ass. Especially when I have article deadlines due, customers waiting on photos, outdoor adventures to have.

Over the years I've figured out a few ways to work around it, some with good success, some only moderate. One thing I do rely on heavily is my smartphone with it's variety of calenders, reminders, bells, whistles, hey yous, maps etc. Now if some whiz kid could just develop an app  that would let me tap here, tap there, and have things suddenly make sense; well we'd be in business!

What I won't do is stay locked inside when the brain fog hits. I've said many times what I do best is wander, and hey brain fog can be really useful when wandering. I just sort of aimlessly traverse the fields, the forests, and see what turns up. That's the only way I can process things on a foggy day.

In our case, sometimes it's the human that's following dog instead of vice versa

Thankfully, Willie the Wonder Dog has a working brain, and does a great job of keeping me from getting into any real fixes. I have him mark the car, the parking area etc before we leave, just in case and thankfully when I tell him go to the car he usually leads me right back to where we started. (With of course the occasional side trip to chase a rabbit or a squirrel).

So today, instead of some thoughtful, insightful, well written post, you'll just have to be happy with some images from the recent wandering days. My foggy brain has reached it's limit for constructing intelligible sentences.  Enjoy the scenes from a recent "foggy" wander!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bald Eagle Numbers Soaring in Illinois

12:07 PM 0 Comments
SPRINGFIELD, IL – A record-setting number of American bald eagles was reported during the annual Illinois Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey coordinated by the Illinois Audubon Society.  Volunteers tallied 5,975 birds between the dates of January 1 and January 15, 2014.

Extremely cold temperatures in northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin caused a surge in the numbers of over-wintering birds along the Illinois waterways. Survey routes are located on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers with additional routes on the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, Crab Orchard Lake, Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area and Carlyle Lake.

According to Tom Clay, the Society’s Executive Director, “our 2014 survey surpassed 2013 (2,325 total) and topped the highest recorded count (since 1992) of 4,292 reported in 2008.”  The largest populations of the eagles spotted were counted along the Mississippi River (93.6% of the overall total), followed by 4.4% observed on the Illinois River and 2% sighted on the remaining routes.  The number of adults versus immature eagles reported on these surveys, an important indicator of recovery and survival, remains at 60% and 40%, respectively.

Nationally, this effort is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The goal of the survey is to maintain the long-term, national coordination of the surveys collected, analysis of that data, and reporting of the results.  Locally, survey data collected provides information on eagle trends, distribution and habitat and helps create public interest in bald eagles and their conservation.

Information regarding the 2014 survey and previous years’ data can be obtained by calling the Illinois Audubon Society at 217.544.2473.