The other morning I was scanning the NY Times on My IPAD. (I say that to sound groovy and technologically savvy – of which I am neither). But I came across an article that was titled “Chemo Brain can last for up to five years.” CRAP! Chemo Brain is very similar to pregnancy brain (boy we women just get all the fun stuff don’t we!). Anyway, it refers to your Short Term Memory…or really the lack there of. Now frankly, I get pregnancy brain, because we women spend 9 months trying to avoid focussing on the crippling pain of child birth. We do such a good job at that, That is until the delivering or 2nd or 3rd delivery that women are often heard screaming “why the hell did I let you get me pregnant again!” (usually the words sound much more venomous than that) But of course once that bundle of joy is in our arms — POOF! the memory of the pain is gone.
But the thought of Chemo Brain bothers me. I pride myself on my memory. I have always been able to store and recall facts, figures, phone numbers, names, and data in my head (with great detail). Even at work, though my desk was a mountain (and that is a true description) of papers, invoices, photos, fabric swatches, button samples, and other garment paraphernalia; I could recall exactly what strata the necessary document was in. Easy retrieval — co-workers would watch in awe — that there really was a system in place there! Though it was rumored that the pile was so big and old that Jimmy Hoffa’s body maybe at the bottom.
But to get back to the Chemo Brain I suffer at present, I must tell you about my day tuesday (it may have been Monday). Since I can’t tell you what I had for Breakfast this morning you’ll have to forgive the approximation on the days. Anyway, I realized I must get myself a book to carry around with me at all times, to write things down in. Otherwise the information will be lost forever. So this particular morning I knew I needed some food at the grocery store so I wrote my 8 items in my book, put my book in my handbag and got in my car to go to the store. Before I left my driveway I realized I didn’t have my phone, so I put the car in park and ran back into the house. As I entered my home the phone was ringing, so I answered it. My good friend and I chatted for about 10 minutes until the doorbell rang. The Fedex man needed me to sign for a package, which I did. Before he walked away he said :”You know your car is running.” Sh**! I totally forgot I was going somewhere. I said goodbye to my friend and got back in the car. I drove about 1,000 ft. and again said Sh**! I forgot my phone. So in reverse I went and got my phone, and back on the road again.
Finally, after 1 hour of me leaving, I arrived at the supermarket (which is only 5 minutes from my house). Just arriving inside the store gave me the most ridiculous sense of accomplishment. I felt a like Marlo Thomas on the corner of The NYC street throwing her hat in the air. I just wanted to scream to everyone “Look I made it to the Grocery Store all on my own….” Sad but true! Anywhoooo…my shopping experience was even more fun….
As I started walking down the aisle’s and throwing items in my cart, I wasn’t really paying attention to how full my cart was getting. Something clicked and I realized, “Wait I have a list.” So I turned to my cart to get the book out of my bag and, CRAP – no bag! Immediate panic set in. “Did someone steal my purse? Everything is in it! Oh wait, what is in it? My book is in it?” As I stood talking to myself Clarity emerged. My bag is in my car — I think!” I abandoned my cart and went to the car. The HALLELUJAH CHORUS WENT OFF IN MY HEAD! There was my bag in the car, and my list too! Yeah.
Back into the store I went, but wait – where did I leave my cart. After looking like a Peeping Tom hovering over carts to find mine, I gave up and went to get a new cart. Now I that I had my book with the list I was set to go and purchase only what I needed. We’ll except for these pretzel rolls. Thats all I got extra. Well that and those just baked Brownies in the bakery. Those were only extra items…oh yeah, and the Cookie Dough Ice Cream, and nothing else, except for the whipped cream! But I swear that was it! That and the 8 items on my list, and I was good to go! Ya, Right!
The cashier is swiping my items, looking at me wondering how I could consume so much junk food. I turned to get wallet out of my bag, and realized “Crap, I only took in my book with the list and left my bag in the car.! With a line behind, I had to sheepishly explain to the cashier that I have to run quickly to my car to get the wallet. I saw his and everyone else’s eyes roll at the idiot that I am! Luckily my car was one in one of the closest spots, which I pointed to as I told him I would be right back. I felt the Cashier give this look, I think he felt sorry for me. Like I was some little lost puppy! He nodded at me allowing me to run out to get my wallet. As I exited the store I understood the look. I had left my car on, and the door open. I just wanted to run back in and scream, “It’s not me really, it’s the chemo. I am usually much smarter and way more together than this!” But of course I didn’t. I got my bag (thankfully we live in a low crime area – or I give off that “mentally challenged aura”), and went back in to pay the bill. Embarrassed enough I apologized to everyone on the line, especially the nice lady behind me, who said, “Don’t worry, I understand. I know what it is like sweetie, I have been through pregnancy before also.”
And I thought “Wow! I look young enough to be pregnant? Cool” or “Do I look fat enough to be pregnant! CRAP!” And just like that the events of the last two hours were out of my head. POOF!
11 responses to “Chemo Can Affect Your Memory…Ya Think!”
I loved reading this!
You are amazing.
Great website, Thanks for sharing!!!!
You are truly amazing
I am laughing so hard that I can’t breathe!
Ok but remmeber BREATHING…GOOD, Not breathing…Bad!
So glad Suzanne shared this with me. I so understand it all – sometimes I don’t know if my brain farts are pregnancy or stroke hangovers – I’m going to go with pregnancy since that was only a year ago, whereas the stroke was 10 years ago. Good luck to you Carol!
Thanks, and see how much you have to look forward too. I had pregnancy brain 11 years ago..I think it as 11 years ago, I just can’t remember! 🙂
Well Carol-Your relating your chemo-brain morning in the supermarket read like a very funny half hour with the Golden Girls. Though life is definitely not a sit. com. this year–your ability to see the funny absurd side-in all of this, as one’s brain plays hop-scotch(which is surely does for me, at this age(and most of my friends are worse!). You know the ‘fschmmilled’ head will eventually settle down after all the treatment, in the meantime, bravo and hang in there! xxxxxxMax
omg! You are making this s*@! up!! No, you couldn’t make this s*@! up! Luv ya hon.
I am a nursing PhD studying chemo brain and would love to “pick your brain”. Can you e mail me so that I can give you info rearing my study?
Utterly written subject material, thank you for selective information.