Chemo Brain… the gift that keeps on giving

People think I’m kidding.  I know they do.  I can see it in the faces of my family members even… so I know other people don’t get it.

Once upon a time, I can vaguely remember…  I used to be pretty much on the ball.  I know I’m not stupid.  I graduated with my BS (with a dual minor) in two years and four months… while raising two toddlers.  And I maintained a 3.45 qpa.  I have an MBA.  I’ve published reasonably decent geek books.  I only had to re-take one class (NEVER EVER EVER take 21 credits in a semester and try to maintain any kind of real life at the same time)

Not bragging… I don’t really think of it as something to take bows about… I did what I needed to do.  I “got-er-done”.  I’m kind of just reminding myself that, once upon a time I could multi-task and I didn’t have the attention span of a gnat………….

hey look… shiny chicken!!!!

I’m coming to understand (through some very pointed research) that what I’m dealing with is pretty much Chemo Brain.

I used to think that having kids sucked the brain right out of you… that as long as you were talking baby talk the brain cells were jumping out your ears at night out of sheer frustration.  But I did my BS with a 2 year old and a 6 month old.  That really doesn’t hold water so much.

Now… Now I have to put my headsets in at work to drown out the people in the nearby cubes just to get my work done day to day.  Without the headsets and random music, I would end up sitting curled in the fetal position in the bathroom crying hysterically because I can’t THINK straight.

When I’m trying to make a phone call and someone is just making “being in the same room and moving around” noises, I get frustrated and I have to leave the room and lock myself in the bathroom or I can’t quite deal with what is going on on the phone.  I can’t remember what number I’m supposed to push, why I’m calling, or what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’ve noticed my hearing changing.  I can’t hear half the time and other times (when I’m on the phone with my headsets in to talk hands free) someone runs water on the other end of the phone, or opens an envelope, or farts sideways and I’m freaking out and screaming so I can hear myself over the din.

I get frustrated with myself so much more easily now than I ever have before… because I just can’t THINK the way I know I used to be able to think.  It’s like I’m thinking through white Karo syrup.  I can see through it like it is window glass, but trying to get through it (to think through it) is like trying to swim through oatmeal.

I’ve even managed to pretty much convince myself that it is ME.  The problem is something fundamentally messed up with ME personally, not the me that is fighting RA.

But I remember that this isn’t me.  This isn’t the me I used to be… now, I need to focus on what is really going on and coping mechanisms to help my head not explode trying to deal with my new reality.  And I realize that this is part of what is happening to a wonderful friend of mine who is fighting with way higher doses of real Chemotherapy (like low dose poison for years isn’t real… duh) even if I don’t think she realizes it herself yet.  Maybe… just maybe I can help…

I found this article today and it has some coping skills, some things that maybe I can incorporate with my Yoga and Meditation practice that seems very much to help me when I can remember that I matter enough to work it into my routine.

I think, though, that the best thing I’ve learned is that, this is really really real and that it isn’t just me.  Maybe I can share this adventure with the rest of the people dealing with the continuing adventures of Captain Chemo (whether it is for Cancer, or HIV, or RA or any other condition that they prescribe this wonderful poison to control).  My reality isn’t going to change any time soon.  Maybe, just maybe I can learn how to cope and deal.

Here’s to hoping you have a fog free week.



One response to “Chemo Brain… the gift that keeps on giving

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I wish you all the very best with everything you are currently having to cope with.


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