Chemo brain


Thursday, April 16, 2020. The Xeloda has the mildest side effects of any chemo I’ve had so far. Mostly fatigue and chemo brain. The fatigue isn’t even that bad. But the chemo brain is the worst I’ve experienced. So weird. I lose words mid-sentence. Or if asked a question about something recent, it’s not uncommon for me to respond with, “I don’t know. I just can’t remember.” And I just can’t seem to get motivated to do anything. Worse yet, I don’t care that I can’t get motivated. I just feel blah…not depressed, just blah. The world is so upside-down right now that I think our current situation probably exaggerates everything that I’m feeling or not feeling.

I’m used to the isolation. I have spent a great deal of the last 16 months avoiding people due to my compromised immune system. It is easy for me to do since we live 6 miles from town and our nearest neighbor isn’t even within eyeshot. During this time, Steve has done most of the shopping and continues to do so. I do most of my shopping online. What’s changed is now I’m not alone in my isolation. Who would have ever guessed?

On Monday I’m going to start 5 weeks of radiation. I’ll be done just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Big deal. Right? Most of us will likely be spending the holiday “sheltered in place.” Which means many of us will be forced to honor our fallen service men and women from afar. I don’t know. Maybe this year Memorial Day will have a deeper meaning for our nation considering all that we are going through.

See. This crazy chemo brain gets me sidetracked. My thoughts just drift around aimlessly.

I got a couple new tattoos and all plotted for radiation a week ago. Steve usually goes with me to all my appointments, but in our new pandemic world I’m not allowed to have anyone accompany me. At the Cancer Center they didn’t even allow paper exchanging hands or me signing anything to authorize treatment. Instead I gave a verbal authorization which they noted on my behalf. I appreciated the extra precautions. Especially since not only am I in one of those particularly vulnerable age brackets, but the chemo makes the coronavirus even more insidious.

I don’t personally know anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean my heart isn’t hurting for all those fighting the disease or a little bit broken by the deaths that have occurred. The loss that has hurt the most was that of John Prine, a down to earth singer-songwriter who was often referred to as the Mark Twain of American songwriting. His lyrics can break your heart or make you laugh out loud. Since he died, I haven’t been able to get his songs out of my mind. I wake up every day with one of his tunes churning around…playing over and over and over. And I don’t mind. One of my favorites is “In Spite of Ourselves.” It’s funny and sweet and endearing. It makes my heart smile. A smiling heart is good for the immune system, or so I prefer to believe.

In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow
Against all odds, honey we’re the big door-prize
We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces
There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes
—John Prine, In Spite of Ourselves

10 Replies to “Chemo brain”

  1. Chemo brain is so disruptive!! I had a neuropsychological evaluation done and it showed an IQ loss of 20 pts! Crazy!! I worked with a speech therapist for a while doing exercises to improve function but it was the daily use of the ap, Brain HQ, that really did it. I was able to regain 15 of the lost points. It was a good reminder to me that the brain is a muscle and needs to be exercised like any other muscle. I try to tell everyone about my experience because it literally changed my life. ❤️

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  2. We’ve had you on our minds a lot, especially with the passing of John Prine. Every time I think of John, I can vividly see in my mind Steve walking up to place that long-stemmed red rose on the stage at LBC. I knew his loss would be especially sad for you two. Have you tried howling yet? Amazing how good it makes one feel. Love ya!

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  3. I too, have been thinking about you and praying daily for your complete recovery. I remembered how much you and Steve loved John Prine. You introduced us to him when we visited you In Sebastapol one time. I loved him too! Love you so much, Lana

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  4. So glad you can do the radiation closer to home. We hope these 5 weeks go by fast!

    Thanks for sharing what’s going on in your brain. You continue to bring us closer in.

    We’re happy to hear you’re celebrating the life of John Prine by listening to his music.

    We’re cheering for excellent radiation results. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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