your brain

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/7/13)

I’ve a grand memory for forgetting. 

 ~Robert Louis Stevenson

So yes, I’ve heard about it, read about it, and even laughed about it—but never really knew if this phenomenon was a realthing or just a sad excuse to drop the ball on one’s many obligations that never end.  Chemo-brain.  There ya have it.  Thirty days into treatment, week 5 of chemo . . . yup, chemo-brain exists.

Knowing me as many of you do, it’s no mystery that my feisty, type A-ish personality leads to over-multi-tasking and biting off more than I can chew . . . well I still manage to chew it, but my small mouth is really full in the process.  Anyway, that’s who I am.  God’s sense of humor showed when designing me.

Though I thrive on spontaneity in the realm of fun, I also lean on order.  Prioritizing, cleaning, planning, and organizing.  These things calm me.  However, in the process of all my “ordered spontaneity”— I always manage to lose something along the way . . . usually that would be my keys.  Now some of you (no comments from the peanut gallery) know thatadditionally, I’m notorious for going off on tangents.  Y’know, skipping from one story to the next seamlessly (to me) with the bonus goal of:  more thoughts achieved in less time.   It’s also quite fun watching people get dizzy keeping up with my “speed-dialogue.” 

Now considering that all of these lovely “Nicattributes” were PRE-chemo, I basically headed into this thing with a deficit.  Case in point:  Pre-chemo Nicole might head out the door realizing she forgot her phone somewhere.  She then narrows it down to her last two locations and boom, finds it . . . done.  On her way.  Chemo-brain Nicole forgets the phone, forgets where she was last, forgets what she’s even looking for, finally remembers, then after a 15-minute search, realizes it’s IN HER HAND.

THAT is my new normal.

I had to laugh when researching this very real cognitive “brain fog” associated with chemotherapy because many of the tips they offer to work around the short-term memory loss, usually involve reminders like sticky notes, detailed grocery lists and calendar organization.  Yeah. Okay.  First I have to rememberwhere the sticky notes and calendar live.

Fortunately, according to the latest research:  “chemo-brain is almost always temporary.  Patients usually regain their full cognitive abilities within a year or two after chemotherapy treatment ends.”  Wuh?  Seriously?  Apparently this thing called cancer takes and takes and takes some more—even my limited brain cells.  Yay.

So where was I?  Oh yeah, today is my 5th chemo session.  I’m sitting here with my one and only, dear ol’ Dadders, who is very used to my tangents, so by taking a little time to blog as he’s plugging away on his IPad = me SAVING him from the torture that will surely come if I pursue one of my many thought patterns.

Now, if I could find one word to describe my Dad . . . I would no doubt lose it with my keys and phone!  No really, one word would be tough, but the only thing that comes to mind is: Constant.   My Dad is a constant source of encouragement,constant model of clarity and reason, constant 10-fold Prince in thoughtful acts of generosity and kindness, and a constantreminder of the amazing love of a Father . . . Dad would undoubtedly walk through fire for his family.  He’s in a league of his own.

As for me:  I’m up . . . I’m down . . . I’m irritable . . . I’m elated.  But most of all I’m filled with Hope, one day at a time.  It’s real.  Healing is found there, brighter futures are found there . . . sanity is found there.

As for today, at Dana-Farber . . . right this very moment, being infused in my heated massage chair (aren’t you so jealous?) . . . it is here, by golly . . . where the magic JUICE is found.  Bring it!  I’m praying right now for some more shrinking miracles.  Though that doesn’t change what I have to go through or what my prognosis is . . . it does keep my Hope bank satiated—satisfied for today.

Keep praying for this wandering chemo-fog-brained redhead (sorry, I mean super-uncomfortable synthetic head) to stay steady and sure, never wandering too far off the path of Hope and Truth.

Ummm . . . okay, I’m done for now.  I think?