Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chemo Braain

Chemo brain. It's real, and it's frustrating as all get out. I've been dealing with it for a while now, but it's getting worse. Maybe I'm just less tolerant of it, but I think it is getting worse. I had known about it since my first oncology visit, but it wasn't ever a big deal. I'd laugh off stupid mistakes as either pregnancy/new mom brain or chemo brain depending on my mood and the circumstances and not give it a lot of thought. Once Finn arrived, pregnancy brain wasn't really an excuse anymore, but new mom brain was. Then he started sleeping through the night after a couple of months (yes, we're very lucky), and so I started sleeping better, and new mom brain didn't seem very accurate either. Now I'm 6+ months out of my first chemo journey, and only three and a half weeks into my oral chemo journey, and it definitely seems like chemo brain.

For example:

After the car accident in November, my car spent over a month in the shop. It was finally ready two days before Christmas. I was off that day, and Kevin was working from home. He kept the baby while I took the rental car to go pick up my car about twenty minutes before the shop closed for the holiday. I got there, picked up my keys, said thanks, and walked out to my car. I moved everything that was in the rental into my car, and then it hit me. I had two cars and one me. I called the rental car company and they said they could pick the car up from the shop if I brought the the keys. Phew.

I've driven past the beltway exit to my house multiple times. I still have to GPS the best way to get back home after doing so. I cannot commit the route to memory. On that note, I've also gotten on the interstate going the wrong direction at least three times in the last two weeks. In case you're curious, it's a royal pain in the ass to go south on 95 in morning traffic when you're supposed to go north, and it adds a lot of minutes to the journey. I'd tell you how many, but I can't remember.

I have had to ask the medical assistant at Finn's pediatrician to repeat his weight and height measurements to me on several occasions, because no less than seventeen seconds after she tells it to me, it leaves my brain.

I have missed Punch Bug opportunities because I'll yell out Punch Bug Red when it's clearly a white bug.

I've gotten to the car after a shopping trip only to remember something I needed and had to go back in. This has happened multiple times. An embarrassing number of times.

I goof on the math regularly when making Finn's bottles, which means I often have to mix up more formula at the end. Math has never been my strong suit, but I used-to-could add pretty well.

I cannot tell you how many times I've had to reset passwords in the last few months. I had to reset my library password twice this week because I couldn't remember it the first time I signed in, and then I couldn't remember the new one when I signed in two days later. I got locked out of my medical record website a couple of weeks ago and had to call my doctor's office to get it reset. That little adventure took several days to rectify.

I went to get my lab work done for my chemo on Friday afternoon. I was going to do it Thursday, but I forgot the paperwork. I also forgot it Friday morning, so I stopped at home after picking up Finn, chatted with Kevin for a bit (he was working from home), got the papers from my notebook in the basement, and went upstairs to leave. Kevin called up to me to hold on, and then he brought me the papers. I finished filling my water bottle, and left for the hospital. As I parked my car, I realized I left the papers on the counter. Fortunately, the lab request was in the computer so I didn't have to go back home to get them.

I asked Kevin to tell me more examples of my chemo brain, and the first thing he said was, "I assume you wrote about forgetting your lab papers already." Nope, I sure hadn't.

Those are the more humorous stories, the ones where it's easy to laugh at myself. The frustrations come when it has real effects on my life.

Yesterday morning I left my vestments at home. I was supposed to serve as deacon at a friend's memorial Mass. I realized it when we were five minutes from the church, and there wasn't time to go home.

I forget things almost instantly, even when I'm trying.

It takes me at least twice as long to do basic tasks at work. On Thursday, I stared at my computer for two hours trying to do my progress notes. In that time, I managed to contact a parent and complete my time sheet. My time sheet was due the day before.

I just typed do instead of due on the previous sentence.

I finally understand my ADHD kids, how they can sit in a class and just not do the work. It's really not a choice. They straight up can't focus their brains to do the task. I get it now, in a way I wish I didn't.

It's hard to see all my clients in a week, even with a significantly reduced case load. I hate it. I. HATE. IT. I hate this part of me, this part where my brain stays in a fog and I can't function like I'm used to, like I want to, like I need to.

I'm learning to cope with it.

I make lists constantly--I love the Notes app on my phone, but I use good old fashioned paper as well.
I also use the reminders app, and I set timers and alarms for all kinds of things--including taking my medicines.

I ask for help. I depend (too much?) on Kevin to help me remember things I need to do.
I'm working on improving my organization methods. They work well enough for the old me, but not for my new normal.

God, I hope it isn't the new normal but just a temporary state of mind.

I also let myself get frustrated sometimes. Thursday was definitely one of those days. I vented to people who would understand, and I had a good cry at my desk at work. I ran away for a bit--I had to go to Costco that day anyway, so I left at lunchtime and did my shopping then, hoping the time away would help clear my brain so that when I got back, I could focus a bit better. It helped a little.

Tomorrow, I've got an oncology appointment. I'm going to ask about it. I'm hoping there's something we can do, because this mess is no joke. I really want to get back to being me.

I misspelled the title of the post on purpose. It amused me. 

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