The Brain Vanishes aka Chemo Brain

I pretty sure I wasn’t told about Chemo Brain prior to starting Chemo. I forget.

With that one sentence, I’ve probably covered all you really need to know about the topic of Chemo Brain.

It’s an actual thing. It’s recognised. There’s a knowing nod you get from fellow Chemo people and medical professionals when you’re grappling to remember times, dates, symptoms or your name.

‘Chemo Brain’ is a common refrain around these parts. Mostly when the hob is left on or the radio has been paused for 3 days…. I guess it’s like Baby Brain or Getting older but with no Baby and still this side of 35, it’s all slightly perplexing.

In fact perplexed is probably my fall back facial expression at the moment. For a long time my fall back facial expression, I’m reliably informed, was worried. So I guess perplexed is better? Both lead to furrow lines in my forehead which, due to lack of hair, are more prominent. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again cancer; it’s fun at every turn.

It’s not as bad as the lobotomised feeling I get directly after Chemo but it’s eery, like constantly being wrong footed.

I forget. I forget to send emails, texts. I forget to return calls or I convince myself that I have already done so. Either way it makes me look rude, which I can’t stand.

It makes reading a challenge too. I was a good third of a way through a book, prior to my last Chemo. I’m unable to read for a week after Chemo. Seriously, a short article in a newspaper or magazine takes about 4 sessions to complete. Books are my Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, returning to said book, I can’t remember a darn thing about it. It’s a crime drama. Re-reading it, I get a weird deja vu feeling. Like perhaps I read it in another life.

You know when you are indignantly arguing with someone; say you thought you’d told them about an appointment and they swear blind you didn’t? (not based on actual events) There you are all insistent and self-righteous and then you get the creeping realisation that actually perhaps you didn’t tell them?

I don’t get that anymore. I have total memory lapses. There’s no foggy half memories, it is blank, utter blank. I don’t even get to do the climb down apology. I kinda miss them.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all the time, I’m not a Goldfish…….

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all the time, I’m not a Goldfish.

Although, that somehow makes it worse. I don’t even know when it’s going to strike. Then there is the reliance on others, to trust exactly what they are saying. It’s Hitchcockian, this reliance that they are not trying to send me mad. It’s all very The Lady Vanishes. I could be getting paranoid.

I carry little note books everywhere and I write a lot of lists. Which is all well and good but you have to remember to read the darn things in order for them to work.

The worst is forgetting words. It can be any word. I’ve always been something of a – see it’s just happened, I can’t remember. I’m now going to have to google: Character from a play who mixes up words, possibly beginning with ‘M’……..

Malaprop! That’s it! I’ve always been something of a Malaprop. These days it’s even harder to find the word I want. This makes it difficult to write and that breaks my heart because writing has been my saviour.

Finding or remembering the topics and sharing them in an amusing or useful manner is getting harder and harder. This is why I have 7 draft Blog posts and no new posts on the site.

I’m contemplating a Momento-esque tattooing spree of my ‘truths’, though I’m pretty sure Tattoos and Chemo don’t mix.

Now I know a had an articulate, thoughtful and witty way of finishing this post but as it’s now stuck in the vortex; can you all smile wryly, give a slight head shake and say to yourself “Ah Polly, nailed it again”.

I thank you.