Sunday, June 18, 2006

Chemo Brain

First... this last round of chemo was the easiest I've ever had. And considering I've had 3 types of chemo in my life, for a total of 12.5 rounds, I think I have some good comparison! It was strange to be in the clinic instead of a hospital bed. Lazy boy chairs everywhere filled with people hooked up to i.v.'s; muzak playing in the background; volunteers anxious to get whatever you need. I was there and back home within 3 hours and the proceeded to sleep the next day and a half - apparently it's not just the anti-nausea drugs that make me tired. But the nausea was almost next to nothing and that made me very happy.

And now for the topic of the day...
Apparently there is actually a "label" for the decrease in mental alertness I've been experiencing - CHEMO BRAIN. I've been having trouble remembering names of people and things. It reminds of the time when I was pregnant and was telling someone to put something on the... you know.. the thing with four legs... you put plates on it and eat at it... yeah, that's it.. a TABLE. I'm having the same type of short circuits now. I happened to read an article in a cancer magazine at the Cancer Centre that talked about "chemo-brain". Here's what it says:
"Chemotherapy is known to be a neurotoxin and does impact on brain function. Many patients report psychological side effects of chemo that include mental and physical fatigue, stress, depression, mood disturbances, difficulty with focus and concentration, forgetfulness and confusion." It isn't clear whether all of this is a direct result of chemotherapy or an indirect symptom attributable to extreme fatigue, physical pain, stress.. etc etc. In any event, the good news is that it is temporary and things should return to normal gradually when chemo ends.

So I'm using this as my explanation for my TV addiction and my forgetfulness. By about 8:00 at night, I start to have a lot of trouble concentrating because I'm quite tired by then. When I've gone out for dinner with friends, or over to friends' houses, I'm ready to go home by 8:00 and have trouble carrying on a conversation. The only thing I seem to be able to do is plop my behind in the lazyboy chair and veg in front of the TV for a couple of hours.

I'm also incredibly forgetful - if it's not written down, it's as if it was never mentioned to me! For example, on the Victoria Day long weekend, my mother called on the Friday to ask if she and my Dad could come to visit sometime that weekend. I told them Monday would be perfect. On Sunday, a friend called and we made arrangements to have a picnic lunch with our kids at a park for Monday. Well, imagine my surprise when, as I'm starting to work on packing the lunch, my parents walk in my front door! Now this might have happened before chemo too, but at least I've got a good excuse!

Well, it's 9:30 pm and way past TV watching time! So I'm off. Goodnight all.


Changeit said...

synovial sarcoma.. what is that exactly?

Anonymous said...

Hey Annette,
I'm so happy this round of chemo went "okay" for you. It does make life a lot easier! As for chemo brain, I PROMISE you, it does eventually go away. It takes a while though. Use the "chemo brain" excuse for absolutely everything! You earned the right to! LOL! Oh honey, Dinner?, what's that? Blame it on the chemo brain. It is very real! Hugs to you and know you are always in my prayers!


Michelle said...

Glad to hear this round was easier on you and you were able to go home and sleep. Keeping you in my prayers!

Amy & Emma said...

I'm so glad the chemo was easier this time! What a blessing to be able to come home to your own bed - we all know you never get any sleep in a hospital!

And I'm with Stephanie - ride the "chemo brain" excuse as long as you can. :-)

You're in our prayers, and Emma sends a big hug your way.

Amy & Emma

Clare said...

Hi Annette,

I'm really glad that this round was easier for you. Anything that makes it more possible for you to be at home with your family is great.

Julie said...

Woke up thinking about you this morning. I am glad to read that this round was easier on you. I hope it continues to be that way and we are praying for those tumors to disappear!

Sorry to hear that the 'chemo brain' is messing up your schedule but it sounds like you had TWO great visits instead on one!

Just wanted to pop in and say Hi! Big hugs to you!

Julie, mom of Emily, Trisomy 21 online

Kris said...

So glad this went well!! YEAH! Keep the good news coming! Chemo brain, yup, I got it for sure. I find, I can't get words out like I used to. Language processing is just not the same. But it does get better!!

mum2brady said...

hmmm - I wonder what my excuse is? Maybe being pg for so long with so many kids has the same effect!

Sooo glad to hear that this round went easier!!

We're keeping you in our thoughts and prayers!!!

Tara Marie said...

Good night, dear friend.....

I am so glad that this round was the easiest and that you didn't feel sick to your stomcach. As for the forgetfulness, I am glad it is temporary, but I know I would be a complete mess becuase I'm so forgetful to begin with.

The new center sounds wonderful and to beable to go home is a dream!

Rest and recover....we are here thinking about you day in and day out!

Peace and love, TM

Mauzy said...

Hi Annette, its me, know, mom to Nash ;) So glad to hear you feel better this round! Thinking of you non-stop!