Monday, December 21, 2009

Chemo Brain - And How I Deal With It

Yesterday I jokingly blamed "chemo brain" for our forgetting to attend an open house at the home of our pastor and wife. But to many cancer patients, chemo brain is not a joking matter.

In my case, I still carry a residual effect that I don't often think about. But it is there. I constantly refer to my calendar (or at least think it through in my brain) as to which day of the week it is. Even if I've verified to myself an hour ago that today is Tuesday, for instance, 30 minutes later my brain has to grasp at air for a moment before it clicks. It's Tuesday. Still Tuesday. (You see! It's actually Monday! It's not yet Tuesday!)

You've probably had this happen now and then. For some unexplained reason you think all day that it is Friday, and instead, it is Thursday. That seems to be the new "norm" for me. Even though I may have checked my calendar 2 or 3 times this morning, I still sometimes have to check again to see what day it is. It's odd, really. And I don't think about it often. I just take care of it by keeping a good calendar. But it's there.

Other cancer patients struggle much more than I in regards to chemo brain. You can read more about chemo brain by clicking here.

Along with the "what day of this week is it" I also find it difficult to make plans. We're having company over Christmas (weather permitting!). And I know I need to have some food on hand. But my mind is so wishy-washy over what to serve and how to prepare it that I still have not made a decision as to what groceries to buy.

It's not totally debilitating. I will eventually sit down with a pen and paper and write it all out...what to serve...what to place on my grocery list...and schedule when to prepare each item. As long as I have my list and my calendar, I'm okay.

It's weird. That's all I can say.



Whidbey Woman said...

Sticky notes also work wonders!
Has Chemo brain/brain fog affected your speech yet? It can also cause word finding difficulties. Ron has that. Sometimes he'll interject a word that has nothing to do with what he is trying to say, or is the exact opposite. He almost stutters when he's trying to find the word. The good news is, Chemo Brain does subside after treatment (although a small percentage continue to have issues). Happy Holidays!

Dandy said...

I completely remember chemo brain and it did go away.... although I'd like to still claim chemo brain sometimes. My family has some interesting stories to tell about my chemo brain incidents.

Jana said...

Ya know, I like the way you think its why I keep coming to see you here=D chemo brain or not, though I can imagine its irritating sometimes, thanks for sharing a look on the inside of what you go through.

l'optimiste said...

I am the same - I am totally reliant on Outlook and iPhone to remind me of absolutely everything. Thank goodness for modern technology!

I think it is supposed to wear off. I hope so.

Cat Rocketship said...

I hadn't ever heard of chemo brain. I hope it does wear off! After my accident, I had big problems with memory for quite a while. At first I thought it was remnants of the concussion, but when it was still going on in August it became clear that it related to PTSD -- which I learned physically affects the brain.

I learned, too, to write everything down and make lots of notes, which I've never had to do before. Happily, after September my brain got a lot clearer.

Debby said...

Forget modern technology for me. The only thing that works is brightly colored post-it notes. I arrange them attractively on my door, and pluck them off one at a time as the things are accomplished. I also make copious notes for big meals and celebrations. And if I do not write it down, it is guaranteed that I will forget it.


S. Etole said...

I haven't had chemo but do have some "senior" moments.

Kelly said...

No chemo brain for me and I pray I never have to experience that. I have enough trouble as it is and have relied on sticky notes and lists for years. I've just always attributed my lists and notes to my OCD and anal-retentive tendencies.

I found that menopause played tricks on my memory, too. In fact, I still claim that excuse at times.

Debbie said...

My friend who is going through chemo at the moment says the same things. She has become the post it note queen. She wasn't expecting chemo brain so it sort of took her by surprise.

Linda said...

This is something I didn't know about before. I know how frustrating it can be when I simply forget--or as my husband says--I must not have been listening again! I will pray for your Chemo-brain and healing. I am thankful the Chemo worked and you are here to be a blogging friend!

Debra said...

I'm wondering what is causing my own "? brain" problems, since I do not have cancer or chemo to blame on my fogginess....Little bit scary, but I have heard that menopause can cause it.
By the way, is that castle in your blog header your home???!WOW!

Merry Christmas!!
Love, Debra

Daria said...

I can't remember much of anything these days. I must write everything down or it is gone.