covid19 Brain Fog, lost and confused: Search for Answers

I got curious about some of my experiences with covid19 (presumably the Omicron-1 variant), and in particular, some weird memory things that happened, so I asked Google about it. After reading a few articles offered up by the almighty, I decided I had to tell you about it. So here I am again, talking about the rude guest.

A few people have said, “What’s the big deal with getting covid19, whether it’s Omicron or another variant if you are vaccinated and have no high-risk factors?”

For my family, the party with the uninvited guest in late January into February 2022 turned out to be “no big deal” (except maybe some added immunity against the next curveball variant mutant). Yes, we felt crappy and in all honesty, because I am triple vaxxed, I was surprised how crappy I felt. But for some people, things might be worse than what meets the eye. We just don’t know, yet. What if there are some unknown effects on our brains that we just don’t understand, yet? Something that shows up years down the road? Something related to Freaky Friday?

Questions, Bonnie! Do you ever stop? Nope. Inquiring minds want to know!

In a nutshell, I had two experiences. On Day 4 of obvious symptoms, I drove to get the PCR swabby. On the way, I experienced a brief feeling of being completely lost. I was in a familiar place, but I didn’t recognize where I was. Then, two days later, I experienced a strange lack of awareness of my environment and short-term memory loss. It was not Why did I come to the kitchen? then recalled that I wanted coffee. It was Why won’t the coffeemaker cooperate with my demand? I pushed the button! From the time I walked from my bedroom to the kitchen, I’d forgotten the power was out. There were no glowing buttons on the coffeemaker, yet I’d pushed the button expecting something to happen.

You can read details about my brief but startling Neurons Gone Rogue – experiences here and here.

I keep thinking about how weird it was to feel lost on Day 4 on my way to the PCR test and how disconnected I felt two days later. Don’t worry, I don’t meet criteria for an obsession. Trust me.

This is what I have been wondering about and the answers I found:

  • What was the brain disconnect I experienced on two seperate days while I was sick? Answer found: It’s complicated.
  • Were those experiences in the category of “brain fog” on covid19 symptom lists? Answer found: Basically. Sorta. Not exactly.
  • Was it something else? Perhaps something with a different or more descriptive name? Answer found: It’s complicated. We don’t exactly know. But it might be worse than your everyday brain fog.
  • Do we understand the implications of whatever that was? Should I be worried about it? Answer found: No, we don’t. Maybe, but worry is bad for your brain so don’t worry.

I found some information, but I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that too little is known. Very interesting stuff, but most of the studies talking about brain dysfunctions like brain fog and memory loss looked at very sick patients.

If you are interested, check out the links. I won’t spend much time interpreting them for you (this post is already too long despite my massive efforts at brevity).

  • This study looked at the connection between persistent loss of smell and a decline in cognitive functioning after recovering from covid19. They also found Alzheimer’s biomarkers in covid patients, apparently caused by the virus.

By the way, the Alzheimer’s Association is a good resource to follow. Eventually, you will know someone with a dementia-related diagnosis.

  • The interesting section of this article is titled This is Your Brain on COVID19

“One interpretation of these findings is that long COVID could be an atypical form of Alzheimer’s and/or that patients who had severe COVID could be predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s later in life,” Dr. Marks said, “but much more research needs to be done before we can make more definitive conclusions.”

  • Here’s an article from Harvard about covid19 and brain fog with tips for how to deal with it, no matter the cause.

  • This article is from the Henry Ford Health System. The numbers are staggering.

“At this point, it seems like a third of patients will have some type of neurological illness associated with COVID-19. But this includes a spectrum of issues: memory issues, brain fog, seizures, strokes, and neuropathy (or numbness in the extremities, usually hands and feet).”

  • Here’s another one linking loss of taste and smell to brain fog.

  • This article references several studies related to brain fog and the rude guest. It asks: Is there an increased risk of dementia in later life after having covid19? Holy smokes, our country is already in a crisis with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses. What are we going to do if this virus makes it worse?

“It’s estimated than anywhere from one-fourth to one-third of people with COVID-19 have long-lasting symptoms — and not just people who have been hospitalized. Approximately 1 in 3 people who had mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms reported lingering symptoms seven to nine months later, according to a study published in July 2021 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Everything I read leads to more questions. Not sorry. And more yakkity-yak. Sorry.

If you’ve read previous posts in the McKeegan COVID Chronicles, You might remember I had the following questions while we were sick:

  • Why did we shorten isolation recommendations to five days when clearly people are still sick and quite likely still contagious for more than those five days?
  • What did our positve and negative rapid antigen tests mean in terms of viral load and contagiousness? And, how do we translate that into deciding on isolation and quarantine vs. getting back out into the world and not sending the rude guest (covid19 in any variety) to another household?

National Geographic knew I was going to ask before I even thought of the questions. It’s as if someone predicted the future: Bonnie’s going to get upset about those damn rapid antigen tests so we better have some answers for her!

I encourage you to read the NG link below about isolation, virus levels, and contagiousness in relation to positive and negative rapid antigen test results. They explain why we shortened to five days. HINT: It has more to do with human behavior and our need to get on with life than to do with virus behavior.

CliffNotes? I was right, but you don’t get to call me Cassandra! A negative rapid antigen test does not mean you are virus-free, nor does it mean that you are not contagious. How’s that for helpful? If it’s positive, it’s positive, so no it’s not a cold masquerading as the intruder.

Why then, are we so dependent on the rapid antigen test to tell us how we should behave? I’ve got a negative test, so who needs to use common sense!

Lucky for me, there are smart people out there who already know or are trying to figure out the answers to my million questions.

I wish they’d hurry up.

We can safely say the rude guest has left the building in terms of contagious cooties. Probably even all together!

Two weeks after first experiencing symptoms of the rude guest, I am right as rain. I think. We haven’t had rain in so long I forgot what it feels like.

Why do I still wonder?

Mostly, it’s the unknown. Part of me is still tired, but because of my chronic medical condition, I have no way of knowing if the virus has left behind fatigue for me to enjoy or if it’s just my usual fatigue cycle. Time will tell. Part of it is those darn articles talking about Your Brain on COVID19 and all the things brilliant minds haven’t figured out yet.

I count us lucky. No one got deathly ill or worse. Everyone seems to have recovered and Husband never got sick.

Thank goodness we can all still smell the roses. And the cat’s pee! Imagine if I couldn’t detect Big Kitty’s preference for peeing on towels piled on the floor, bath rugs, and boxes of whatever.

I’d be known as a crazy cat lady and no one would come to visit!

I am glad to have found a possible answer to the question Why did my Neurons Go Rogue? It was probably inflammation in the brain (incidentally, not the first brain inflammation rodeo for me but the others were called concussion and basilar skull fracture).

However, there’s just too much we don’t yet know. “Molecular changes similar to Alzheimer’s” is never a good thing ( It’ll be years before we know the extent of the effects of infection on everyone whose brains haven’t yet been autopsied.

Not in a hurry to volunteer for THAT.

My experiences were no big deal because nothing bad happened… but, because I was wired to annoy my mom, I still have questions. She’s not on our physical plane with us anymore, so I have to find other people to annoy.

My weird experiences seem to have been a transient thing related to being sick, but could it have revealed anything about my future? My paternal great-grandma died with dementia. One of her sons died with Alzheimer’s years later. My maternal grandma died of Alzheimer’s.

Those Neurons Gone Rogue experiences gave me a glimpse of a future I am definitely not interested in. Don’t wanna go there, do that.

Is it really over after the rude guest has left the building? Is there some important reason some of us experience these weird cognitive glitches, but others don’t? So many unanswered questions! A cold virus never caused me to question my brain function in such a manner.

Think of all the people you know whose lives might be negatively impacted by this seemingly “cold-like” virus because it impacts our brain function. I repeat: I am not obsessed.

I simply missed my calling: I should have become a scientist researcher!

Is getting covid19, whether it’s Omicron or another variant, if you are vaccinated and have no high-risk factors, a big deal?

Some people are living the answer. We should ask them about it.

p.s. The woodstove guy just left. He told me he still has an on and off loss of smell and with it comes the taste of ammonia when eating. He had covid19 a year ago this month, pre-vaccination, was in the hospital for nine days and needed oxygen. The virus went to his lungs which were vulnerable because he’d had pneumonia in the past. Prior to getting sick, he had thoughts in the neighborhood of “let’s just get the virus and get it over with.” He has different thoughts about it now.

p.p.s. I’m really not done with this subject. Sorry.

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