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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blame it on Chemo Brain

I'd like to blame it on chemo brain anyway. Chemotherapy can make you forgetful. It can cause brain fog....or make you forget things in general. I definitely see this in myself and as a person who loves to read and learn I find this really hard. I went back to college a couple of years ago and took courses I would never have wanted anything to do with when I was 16. I took chemistry and microbiology. Science is now a favorite of mine. It's good since I want to be an RN. I have taken some time off obviously and I think it's for the best at the moment. I find myself getting jumbled up in my thoughts on occasion. I am good at math but must have paper and pencil to do it. Don't ask me to do too much in my head because I can't hold onto the numbers. It's like they float right on out. I actually forgot what a *diaper bag* was called. It was funny, yet scary. I asked my daughter to bring me the uh....uh....the um, thing with all the baby stuff in it? I swear. I did this a month or two ago. I remembered and was just in awe at my forgetfulness. Those moments happen occasionally, not constantly. Here is something I recently read at Science Daily:

UCLA study shows that chemotherapy causes changes to the brain's metabolism and blood flow that can linger at least 10 years after treatment. Reported Oct. 5 in the online edition of the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, the findings may help to explain the disrupted thought processes and confusion that plague many chemotherapy patients. "People with 'chemo brain' often can't focus, remember things or multitask the way they did before chemotherapy," explained Dr. Daniel Silverman, head of neuronuclear imaging and associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Our study demonstrates for the first time that patients suffering from these cognitive symptoms have specific alterations in brain metabolism."

It's such a real thing and I can't explain how frustrating it is. It can linger for 10 years? That's a depressing thought to me. I can only say I'll fight it by pushing my brain harder than ever. I read a lot and I plan on taking more classes this spring so it will force my brain to focus, hopefully. I hate the fog...or feeling of having to think harder to get an answer. I can usually get the answer, but it just takes more effort than before.

A funny note, I know it's not unusual for moms to call their children by the wrong name. You start with one kid's name and go through them all before you finally say the right one. I do this a lot. Well my 8 year old is Mikayla. So, if I start with her everyone in my house sounds like a McDonald's entree. For example:

Miklexi! I mean...Lexi. MikLexAngel...I mean Angel! So yeah. My girls are Lexi, Mikayla and Angel and the baby is Gabriella. So I am sure one day a MikGabbi will be added to the menu.


Svr said...

Wow, we are a lot alike! I too still have the chemo brain after 2 1/2 years. It drives my 15yo crazy that I just can't remember his band schedule and it is the same each and every week.

Sandi said...

haha Tammy at least I'm not alone. I think the hubby does get frustrated with me too. Ladybanana(not sure what your real name is at the moment haha) I think I was a tiny bit forgetful before chemo as well. ;)

Body Natural Soap said...

LOL. That is funny a new twist to the going down the name list.

By the way I wanted to say that I came across you site through entcard and I am in awe of your bavery in what you've gone through and overcame.

My Brother's Fiance went through overian cancer and then breast cancer. It really took a toll on her will to live.

Beth L. Gainer said...

Love this posting!! I had chemo eight years ago, and my brain hasn't been the same. You describe it right by saying things just "float" out of your mind.

After eight years of struggling with my failing memory (and it's good to stimulate the mind, as you and I do), I am learning to accept the new "me." As frustrating as it is, acceptance and patience with yourself is key.

I keep thinking that chemobrain is better than having cancer.

I study a language and do a lot to keep my mind active, and I believe it helps stave off more chemo fog.

Great posting.