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MS & Attention Disorders: Hold that Thought

Reader FavoriteFocus, memory retention  and other cognitive issues can be associated with Multiple Sclerosis – that is no news flash to any of us who have groped for words, or forgotten important engagements  or have trouble recalling the name of a long-time friend. It’s a great frustration, but I often wonder if MS gets a bad rap for this one where the truth may be someplace else.

There are so many ways I get distracted and my aging brain can only keep up at a certain pace.  I have recently decided my nemesis and the cause of my adult-acquired attention deficit disorder must be the internet and not my MS.

This morning I started knitting with a new yarn and found the pattern frustrating so I wanted to look for a simpler one to do – no problem, right? I power up the laptop and am immediately greeted with the headline news that Serena has been busted, which of course requires me to read that she tried to take a picture of Tiger on the golf course. I use the back button and now I see my email inbox and the latest issue of our NMSS chapter newsletter is there, which requires me to stop and read what’s going on for the month – I check out the links for speaker programs and wonder where that particular location might be, so off I am looking at Google map and the Yelp! reviews of the restaurant that is the site of this talk.  If I am going to make the trip to hear this speaker I want to know that the meal I will be served has a chance to be tasty and not another dry boneless chicken breast dinner.

I silently chide myself to pay attention to finding a use for my yarn, but find instead I go back to the newsletter to read about a blood drive donation taking place and stop to follow the links on who can and can’t donate (I’ll save that for another time).

Again, I tell myself to focus and return to searching for the scarf pattern, but up pops another group of headlines, including a story about a 93 year old teacher retiring.  I had to stop and see this wonder woman, and enjoyed watching the clip of her so much that I had to share it on Facebook.  Yes, just as you imagine, once I was on FB,  there went another 20 minutes looking at messages and reading whatever the latest inspirational/humorous/educational  links my friends thought worth sharing.

Almost 90 minutes later, I glance at my side table and see the yarn and needles set aside, and it reminds me to look for those patterns.  Finally, I successfully ignore all the bright shiny things on the internet that compete for my attention and I finally make it to the website for this particular yarn.

As much as I would like to blame my MS for the lack of attention, I am pretty sure there are other factors at play.  It is incredibly easy to blame MS for all of my problems, but the truth be told, that isn’t always the case.

In the time I spent bouncing around the internet today, I might have started and finished knitting that scarf.  If you’re hoping I will knit you something for next Christmas, you might want to hide my laptop.

Wishing you well,


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    I agree with Laura. MS is important for sure, but most of the time not all of life is MS. By the way, I am forgetting to go to bed.

  • kimber
    6 years ago

    Hello! I wish my lack of focus was just this simple. I have the problem of not remembering things. I cant find the words I want to use, I cant remember what I wanted to do. Sometimes it is so foggy here that I can remember how to spell words. I hope I have seen the worse which I will say was when I couldn’t remember my ABC’s ( and I am a teacher). Recently things have been good but I am worried were this is going to lead.

  • ScarlettOH
    6 years ago

    I love to blame MS for everything, but you’re so right, Laura. Getting distracted is an art unto itself. Luckily for me I have time for everything, being retired, yet I do find my minutes becoming hours as I surf the web. Right now I’m trying to manage a major relapse and not doing so well. The Internet is good palliative medicine for relapses, since it takes our minds off our worries, but sooner or later we have to deal with reality. Keeping my fingers crossed that that doesn’t take too long.

  • Kim Imus Schaefer
    6 years ago

    I “KNOW” giving ANY type of medical advice is a “no-no”, But I must say just for myself that I used to WANDER off in conversation with people like there was NO TOMORROW. This last year I started on Ampyra and one of the FABULOUS side effects is it helps you keep focus.
    My mother and husband who I usually keep around to help me “fill in my blanks” REALLY Noticed a difference in me in a VERY short period of time.

  • Kim Imus Schaefer
    6 years ago

    BTW…I have had MS for a little over 22 years.

  • Ronald Huff
    6 years ago

    I am just taking a break from I can’t remember what, and got distracted by this article even though I thought who wants to know any way and not everything is MS. Turns out you agreed. I know from the inside that MS can effect memory but as I see so many others aging around me I realize once again that MS doesn’t explain everything that happens to us.

  • Connie
    6 years ago

    Laura, that sounds like me so much! Even right now, I just got on the computer about 10 minutes ago to look something up, got sidetracked to Facebook, saw your post and had to read it! Then of course I had to log in to comment. Now what did I get on the computer to look up…? I have no idea!! 😉
    ~ Connie

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