Chemo brain

I’ve written about it before. It’s a real thing. Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes it’s scary and sometimes it’s funny. Today was one of the funny times.

I had the house to myself this morning for many hours. It was a perfect time for puttering around, cleaning, deblooming my hanging baskets and enjoying the quiet. I love my backyard so I made some breakfast and ate it under my tree — scrambled eggs, strawberries and a peach from the farmer’s market. While I was eating, I thought to myself that I hadn’t had a “chemo brain” moment in a long while and was very happy about that. So I finished up, came inside and started doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. When it came time to clean the microwave, I cleaned the outside of the door first, then opened it up to clean inside — and there sat the bacon I had made to go with my scrambled eggs! I literally laughed out loud. It was less than an hour before that I thought that chemo brain might be a thing of the past.

The bright side is that it’s getting better. The occurences are getting fewer and farther between. I’m used to having very quick recall. And remembering details. Now I have to google simple things to jog my memory. Dr. Paul says that it does all return. Mental stimulation helps. Writing helps. Reading helps. Puzzles help. (But not the jigsaw kind. Those are so ridiculously boring to me. I stick to word puzzles.)

The two main ways I’m affected are:

  • Not remembering where I heard or read something. Usually, I can say, “I was reading an article in National Geographic at the doctor’s office and it said…” But these days, it’s more like, “I read … or saw … or heard … somewhere that…”
  • Words escape me. You know how when you can’t remember a word that you know will perfectly express what you’re trying to say? It happens to me all. the. time. Even simple words. That can be truly frustrating.

Honestly, I think that part of chemo brain is like baby brain. When I was pregnant I forgot stuff all the time. Once, when I was pregnant with Aspen, I forgot that I got a new car and went looking for the old one in the Giant Eagle parking lot. It’s not that I’m suddenly stupid, it’s just that my mental capacity is being diverted. For a different — even more important — reason. My body is using all of its energy right now to heal and prosper. So what if I can’t remember who said what when? It’ll come back. Just like everything else, my hair, my sensation in my fingers and my ability to do an awesome Chicken Dance. 🙂

Sally

I saw Sally yesterday and we talked a lot about radiation and my feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve met some people recently who are just … well, giant asses about sharing their opinions about radiation. I was fully informed of the risks by my doctor. I’m aware. I’m not sure why people do that. It’s a strange phenomenon when dealing with cancer. Suddenly everyone’s an expert. I’ve never heard anyone say, “You’re having surgery? Oh my! Did you know that you can DIE from the anesthesia?!?! People do. All the time. So don’t be surprised if that happens.”

Don’t worry, if I’m dead, I won’t be surprised. 😉

Sally calls these thought viruses. Depending on who says them, they can be very powerful. In fact, the more credibility a person has, the easier it is to adopt their way of thinking.

My radiation oncologist has been pretty great about being positive. He informed me of the risks the way a surgeon informs a patient of the risks of surgery/anesthesia. Yes, they’re possible. But probable? No. However, I am legally required to be made aware. Now I am. So I think I’m done telling people that I’m currently doing radiation treatment. At least people whom I don’t really trust with that information.

Instead, I’m going to tell people the truth when they ask. And that truth is, “I’m cancer free, and my treatment is almost finished.” End of story. No more thought viruses here. I’m taking my thought virus Cold-Eez.

Sally has taught me that it’s impossible to NOT think about something, you just have to think of something else. For instance, if I were to say, “Don’t picture a yellow Jeep,” suddenly that’s ALL you can picture. Sally says that when my mind starts to drift to worrying about potential side effects, acknowledge it then, picture my backyard and all of its green, leafy serenity. And the calmness I feel when I eat my scrambled eggs under the tree — with or without bacon.

Yoga!

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to do yoga! It’s been SO long. I’m so excited. I’ll be doing it with the physical therapist/yoga instructor I talked about before, Brianna, at 8 am sharp. I’ll be up when the magpies see fit, so it’ll be no problem to make the first appointment of the day. Pretty soon, I’ll be doing this again.

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Orange is the New Black

I’m hooked. I started the series this past week. All the way from the beginning. I can’t stop watching. I’m already almost done with season 1. To be honest, though, it’s kind of a love/hate thing. The first episode made me very anxious. I have this irrational fear about going to prison. Not that I have plans to kill someone or rob a bank, but people go to prison for all sorts of reasons — even accidents. At first, I think I felt as scared as Chapman did. Plus, I see myself in her. In the first episode when she’s issued her prison shoes, she says, “Oh, they look like Tom’s!” and then explains that for each pair purchased, Tom’s gives a pair to a child with no shoes. That would totally be me. I’d be nervous and talk too much and the guard would hate me for being a goody-goody and threaten to step on my neck.

I digress.

Seriously, I LOVE the show! And plan to binge watch all three seasons in the coming weeks. I must admit, I’m pretty ignorant of the penal system. I thought they’d be allowed to have access to computers and the internet and a kick-ass gym. At least they have a library and not a cell with bars. I love to read and the confinement of a cell might send me over the edge. OK, enough of my prison-o-phobia.

I am

I have a new favorite song. It’s AWOL Nation’s I Am. He says, “Maybe all of these things made me who I am.” It’s true. What is life but a series of experiences that continue to evolve your soul? You can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5DzJwlNfYY

I’m seeing these guys in concert in July. I can’t wait.

Thanks a lot for listening.

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2 thoughts on “Chemo brain

  1. Glad you are doing so well! I have forgotten things in microwave and words, but that’s me just getting old! Enjoy life, Erika. Sending you good thoughts👍🏻😊

    Liked by 1 person

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