Multi-task versus single-task

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2006 at 1:29 pm

      Usually I am very much a multi-task person – a regular octopus in whatever I do. However, since this started I have been finding myself only able to do single-task things. (I am not diagnosed yet – but am going to have an EMG in a few weeks, having mostly sensory version still progressing in my 8th week – all my clothes feels like prickling wool now)

      First I discovered that I was unable to walk, talk and look at another person without losing my balance, so now I walk with a fix for my eyes, or stand still and look at a person and talk. Same thing with a shopping centre – I cannot walk, avoid bumping into people and window shop. I now tend to go single-mindedly to get the things I need, as I get soooo very tired concentrating on doing things. Even when I eat, I have to concentrate in order not to choke on the food and being able to manipulate my fork, conversation is reserved to before or after the meal. This goes pretty much for everything, and I am so frustrated not being able to do as usual. Things take a very long time. My ten finger typing system is now slow, and I sometimes have to type with two fingers.

      Does anyone else have problems with multi-task versus single-task?

    • Anonymous
      November 29, 2006 at 6:42 pm


      Yes, I used to be a master mult-tasker too. After GBS, I found that if I did more than one or two things at a time, I did them badly. That has improved greatly (I”m nearly 3 years post dx), but I’m still far from able to do what I used to do easily.

      The advantage is that by stopping the constant mult-tasking, I’ve really lowered the stress level in my life. I live at a much slower pace, and am finding that I enjoy it most of the time.

      I also remember at first how frustrated I was about this. And frankly, it sounds like you are having a more difficult time than I did.

      Try to be patient with yourself. It does get better, although slowly.

      Best wishes, Suzanne

    • Anonymous
      November 30, 2006 at 9:46 am

      Hi Ninus:

      Yes, multitasking is a problem. I’m lucky in that I can still get around, but I find that I have to really concentrate on my walking. Eight weeks ago I took my attention off my walking and I went over on my right foot and sprained it and broke my little toe. How embarrasing how to tell others how I did it.

      I have only gotten back to grocery shopping. My hubby has had to do it for the last year and a half. I have trouble scanning the shelves for what I want AND concentrate on walking. Amazingly, I march in a drum corps carrying a 25 lb. drum. We’re talking major concentration here. Drumming and marching at the same time. I don’t even see the crowd in the stands or on the side of the road during a parade. It’s total funnel vision and I’m exhausted at the end. I think I’m able to do this through shear repitition through practising, eg. the body does it so many times that it almost does it on it’s own.

      Take Care

    • Anonymous
      November 30, 2006 at 3:24 pm

      Hi, Ninus.

      I know the feeling. If it’s any help, as time has gone on I’ve managed to relearn how to do things. I was diagnosed with CIDP in 2001 after seven years of weird symptoms, and although I still have to concentrate on some things like swallowing (I always have a big glass of water handy, and my friends have learned to wait for answers to questions), I’ve learned to walk and talk at the same time (although my friends know that I may have to grab an arm now and then). All of my Christmas shopping is done online, and beginning 1 December the only places I’ll go are to work and church–even groceries are ordered online and delivered to my house.

      Like Suzanne, I’ve accepted the fact that life is now different, and like her I’ve found that that acceptance has lowered my stress rate and made life easier.

      Best wishes in the battle,


    • Anonymous
      November 30, 2006 at 7:26 pm

      Thank you all!

      Maybe because I have no diagnose yet, I have not accepted this slow living. Deep down I know. I do know. I still hope that I am wrong, and that everything will go back to the way it was. Right now I get stressed not being able to stress 😀

      Today I went to work for two hours, and it was definitely too soon. I was exhausted afterwards and deflated. I thought that I was able to do it, but I was very obviously mistaken. I so want to go back to work and struggle each day, training, thinking of new methods to overcome small obstacles. They were glad to see me, but some did not realize how much effort it took, even if I took the time explaining it to them all at once and giving them time for questions. Luckily I have been able to make arrangements for working at home by the computer and the phone, it does not drain me as much, and I can work on my good days and keep contact.

      You do have some sensible suggestions – thinking differently in how to attack daily problems like shopping and asking for help.

      [B]Deb[/B], how have you handled working all along or going back to work?

      Thank you, and if you have any advice please do not withhold it.

    • Anonymous
      December 1, 2006 at 1:20 am


      As time has gone on for me, I am happy to be able to do whatever I can. I have found enjoyment in so many small things. I have found enjoyment in family, friends, nature, time, and many things eternal.

      I cannot rush anymore. I allow many others to rush for me if they want to. Life still gets done, supper still gets cooked, my family still loves me, and life goes on.

      Take a break, do what you can, don’t force it if you can’t. Remember to have a good day every day.

      Dick S

    • Anonymous
      December 1, 2006 at 4:20 am

      Hi, Ninus.

      The CIDP I have is more sensory than motor (although I have to wear AFOs because of foot drop and use a walking stick), but fatigue is the biggest problem. I’ve learned that I can’t overdo it, because if I do I’ll pay for the next week.

      I’ve managed to work all along–it’s been out of necessity, since my husband is more disabled than I am and is essentially housebound. I have a very sedentary job, but both the company and I have had to adapt. I’ve learned to relax, take breaks whenever necessary, even take naps (we have a settee in the adjoining office). I’ve lightened my workload, learned to say ‘No’, or ‘I’ll get to it when I get to it’. And I keep lists of everything–I don’t trust my memory anymore.

      Housework doesn’t get done very often, and when it does my son does the heavy part of it, like hoovering. My husband’s able to help with some of the cooking–he puts the meat on to cook and I sort out the rest when I get home. Evenings are for rest and little else, and I go to bed early.

      At any rate, for me it’s been a matter of adaptation.

      Keep fighting,


    • Anonymous
      December 1, 2006 at 12:18 pm

      I never considered myself a multi-task person but now with CIDP I am realizing how much I used to perform many functions automatically while doing other things. This no longer works well for me. I have to pay attention to walking, how I place my feet on the floor, how fast I turn around in the shower or how I handle my spoon or fork getting food into my mouth. If I don’t I might trip, lose my balance or drop my food. This, of course, makes it very difficult to do other things at the same time.

      I am trying to look at this slowdown of functioning as moving through the world with intention rather than being forced into it, kind of a meditation – if I think about it. It calms down the mind. Of course, it doesn’t always work and I might find myself rushing. If that happens, I usually have to pay the price, I trip or lose my balance which quickly reminds me to slow down.

    • Anonymous
      December 2, 2006 at 9:05 pm

      Thank you,

      it is good to know that I am not alone in this. It means a lot to me that you are all there!

      My lack of multi-tasking and fear of not being able to return to work is because our entire family situation is unclear and unresolved at the moment. My husband has just been diagnosed with a heart disease on June 30th and is working parttime now. I have not been diagnosed yet, and I am trying to work parttime, i.e. a few hours on good days, and then I run into fatigue. Sometimes worries of all kinds seem to pile on top of each other which is not exactly helping the situation. My sister-in-law has MS, and my mother-in-law just fell and broke her arm, and she is already handicapped missing a leg. We spend entirely too much time at the hospital.

      I would love to approach this with calm, acceptance and meditation, and sometimes I do succeed as I cannot do much else, but most of the time I struggle in the net. The meditational approach really appeals to me, Norb.

      I don’t know what I would have done without this forum for the past month. It has really helped keep my hope up, having someone to talk to who actually understands.

      Thank you for being there!

    • Anonymous
      December 2, 2006 at 10:26 pm

      I am not able to multi-task as much as I used too! Cooking is where I have a hard time. If the preparation and cooking takes too much time I tend to fall asleep while cooking. So I have changed my lifestyle to fix quick meals during the week and when someone is here to watch the clock for me I make our better meals. I have also learned to ask for help during the process and get ones to clean up or get the stuff from the grocery store. That way I can concentrate on my recipes. I think it would be more exhausting to teach someone to make our favorite dishes with my recipes that are in my head.

      I have accepted that multi-task is my bodies way of saying slow down and get rest! You don’t listen and I can put you in your room the next few days! My body is my BOSS!

      I can not wait for the day that I can watch a whole movie again! I lost count of the number of movies I have started to watch and have not seen the end! Or sometimes I have missed the middle and watched the end. DVDs are great! 🙂

    • Anonymous
      December 3, 2006 at 12:54 pm

      [QUOTE=Ninus]I would love to approach this with calm, acceptance and meditation, and sometimes I do succeed as I cannot do much else, but most of the time I struggle in the net. The meditational approach really appeals to me, Norb.[/QUOTE]
      Nina, I am sorry your life is in such an upheaval right now. I wish you strength and calm to see you through this.

      I find it sometimes difficult to use this meditation approach, I just simply forget. Some time ago Carol and I took part in a meditation retreat at a Thai Buddhist temple in Denver. Part of it consisted in a walking meditation where we had to be aware of each movement of our feet: slowly move left leg forward, touch floor with heel, follow with toes etc. At the end of the day we each had an interview with the senior monk who asked us about our experience and difficulties. I told him I probably was having more difficulties than others since I had to coordinate movements of three legs, my own and the cane. He smiled and said he thought it was funny.

      Two days ago I tried something new to calm down the monkey in my head (a Buddhist way of describing our thoughts jumping around constantly like a monkey swinging from branch to branch). My m-i-l who is visiting went to bed early and Carol was using the laptop in our bedroom because she needed space. I was lying on the couch, lights dimmed, listening to the Messiah in German on my iPod and looking at the large painting on the wall of a Buddha figure (100 x 120 cm) we had painted by a young artist in Thailand. I studied it and saw details I never noticed before, the colors, the eyes mostly closed, corners of the lips ever so slightly turned up as if he was smiling inside. It did make me feel calmer.