Hi, Jamie - sorry you are feeling so badly. I went to the group at UAB because my older brother lives just outside Birmingham and wanted me to get a second opinion about my lupus - he thought the folks at Birmingham might be better than my rheumatologist in Kentucky. Truthfully, it wasn't that helpful for me - I had to wait for weeks to get the appointment. then they insisted on re-running every single test even though I had the results fron my own doctor, they said they only trusted their own labs. It cost several hundred dollars to have all the labs and other tests re-done, and in the end, all that happened was they sent a one paragraph letter to my doctor agreeing with his diagnosis and treatment. They didn't offer anything new. If you are really unhappy with your rheumie, it might be a good option, but having to drive an hour and a half to get to your doctor would be stressful just by itself.
Do you mind my asking where you live in Alabama? I grew up in Alabama, and still have a brother and sister and a lot of other relatives who live down there. I miss the weather and the lakes, but definitely not the fire ants or the kudzu (LOL).
The problems you are having with thinking and concentrating are really common with lupus - doctors call it "cognitive dysfunction" - most people who have it call it "brain fog". Doctors don't really know what causes it - there are a lot of different theories - and that makes it hard to treat. The good news is that it is not a progressive problem - usually it doesn't get any worse, so it's not like Alzheimers where you totally lose function. Sometimes doctors can find a definite problem that they can treat, more often they just hope that the brain fog improves as the lupus meds kick in. Plaquenil can take a long time before you really feel any benefit. A lot of lupus patients have trouble sleeping and this can make the fatigue and brain fog worse. So getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy diet are important. There are medications to help fatigue and improve concentration - if things don't improve, you might talk to your doctor about them. But don't feel like you're going crazy - it's not in your head, it's the lupus. You are not alone in this, a lot of us depend on post-it notes to get through the day.