Although I heard about "chemo brain", I really have tried to stay positive and to not give too much credit to the idea of it. I didn't want to be psychosomatic, or to really allow for "chemo brain" to be an excuse. I want to really LIVE during this period of my life, not lie around and wait for it to pass, and I want to be able to look back and remember from this summer just as many good times as there were hard times.
But, chemo brain did creep up on me, at least today in my email inbox! I was a little disturbed by the intrusion in my normal life...during these days when I still feel the effects of chemo I like to pretend as much as I can that I never even had a treatment (a week ago) and move forward as quickly as I can. Once my side effects go away (like when food tastes how it would normally taste, or when I don't get so tired with everyday life*), then I can go back to reading or thinking about breast cancer or chemo or larger issues. But, it was interesting to read the article, even if the timing in my inbox was not appreciated!
As with plenty of articles I read about research being done, I said, "duh!" (in my seventh grade voice). Of course there IS chemo brain, even if I don't want to admit it to myself. As a chemo girl, I can attest that it exists. Since chemo, it is a daily occurrence that I say one word when I mean another. At the drug store, I asked for ear drums instead of ear plugs. Today I told Emma to put Nathan's toast on a piece instead of a plate. And the WORST is when I am talking to someone I know, and use the wrong name for one of their loved ones! Last night at the wonderful fundraiser-dinner for our 3-day team at bd's Mongolian Barbecue in Royal Oak, one of my very favorite girls on the swim team (and the daughter of one of last year's 3-day walkers) said hi to me and her name didn't come to me for a few seconds. I totally hate that.
It happens so much, (and I know it happens to all people, busy people, and not cancer patients) but the difference between how it felt before and how it feels post-chemo is that now I can actually FEEL my brain working so hard to get to that word. I'm really trying to get to it! It's not me just not putting enough time or effort into saying the right thing, because I am trying harder than ever to put in that time and effort.
I try to not dwell on these mistakes, not because I want to call it "chemo brain" and laugh it off. It's not really something I can laugh at, because I want so much to be regular and to do the right thing. I try to let it go because I am trying to be less high strung in all ways than I was before. My poor husband might not realize this, because I yell at him as much as before! But Bill, haven't you noticed that even if I yell as OFTEN as before, I am not yelling for as LONG? I really am trying! But sometimes I forget to try because I have chemo brain. Ha ha.
*I definitely find that I am a little more tired for longer, after these later rounds of chemo. But, I also feel like I am getting better at it. I'm better at being more cheerful, I'm better at moving past the really bad days quicker...I just stay a little tired longer. So that for me just means that yesterday I only rowed about 3.5 miles on my rowing machine, and I took Tuesday off from exercising. I also think some of the tiredness is because I am not sleeping as well at night - I'm having some of the insomnia and hot flashes of chemo-induced menopause. Last night I took my first sleeping pill ever, though, and slept all the way through the night (and I haven't done that in probably 9 years, since kids I wake up several times a night for who knows what reason).