So, I have been sitting here for 15 minutes and all I wrote was this sentence.
The definition according to cancerresearchuk.org of CHEMO BRAIN or MCI (mild cognitive impairment) is when cognitive changes occur after chemotherapy. Cognitive is the way you process information or understand the world and how it works.
Excerpt from Cancer Research UK: Most people who have cognitive changes are able to do everyday things. But they may notice they aren’t able to do some things quite as well as before they had cancer.
Symptoms can include (I HAVE ALL OF THESE)
- Memory loss – forgetting things that you normally remember
- Difficulty thinking of the right word for a particular object
- Difficulty following the flow of a conversation
- Trouble concentrating or focusing on one thing
- Difficulty doing more than one thing at a time (multi tasking)
- More difficulty doing things you used to do easily, such as adding up in your head
- Fatigue (tiredness and lack of energy)
- Mental fogginess
The changes are often mild and very subtle. But if you have them they can reduce your quality of life. Doctors now know that people with different types of cancer may have these problems.
Tips for coping with chemo brain (I AM USING ALL OF THESE)
- Try to keep your life as simple as possible
- Avoid trying to do too many things at the same time
- Think about writing list about what you need to do, things you need to buy and where you left things
- Writing people's names down with a brief description to help you remember them may be helpful
- Repeating things back to people, for example, the names of people you meet for the first time can help
- When arranging to meet someone or organising an event it may be helpful to write the details down and repeat them back to someone
- Try to talk to people somewhere quiet with few distractions
- Many people find it useful to keep a calendar on your wall
- It may be helpful to write yourself notes and stick them up where you can see them to remind you to do things
- Try to follow a healthy diet, and get some exercise and plenty of rest - try to avoid becoming over tired
- Keeping your mind active may help -for example, doing crosswords, sudoku and puzzles
Those that knew me before cancer know that I was able to focus on a task for long hours and complete it. I could be counted on to follow through. I was amazing (even though I didn't know it) at multi-tasking and seemed to thrive on on having many balls in the air at the same time. (figuratively not literally - I am terrible at juggling). I started my own business and at the same time oversaw the building of a new house that I had designed. I kept track of appointments, remembered birthdays (didn't always send the card though), I was always prepared and even sometimes a step ahead for every event. I worked my butt off in everything I did.
The new me is going to take some getting used to. My attention span is like a goldfish. It doesn't bother me until I realize that my attention span is so short. I can't finish a task- especially if I can't start it. Just one of the many things that suck with Chemo Brain.
I have too many things on my mind and they are too many for my brain to handle. I become paralyzed with my actions and end up not being able to get anything done and only getting more frustrated. I make a list in my notebook to get these things out of my head. I try and do one or two of these things on the list. Frustration again because there are 10 new things to do every day.
So, here I am now 5 hours later, stopping and starting to get this blog post finished.
Frustration comes and goes. This week it has been high as many things are happening at once. It is kind of overwhelming. I try and get myself out of my funk. Break the pattern. I am again so blessed to have friends here in London that I only met a few months ago that care. The girls are great listeners and have excellent ideas how to cope with all the varying consequences of having chemo brain. THANKS GIRLS.
If chemo brain sucks, then me getting in better physical shape is at the other end of the scale. Working out 3 times a week in the gym and then walking at least 3 miles a day means that my hip joints are sore just sometimes and not all the time like they were before. Exercise is keeping me sane. Thank goodness for that or I would already have been checked into the loony bin.
Recovery and living life after cancer always comes down to the support and encouragement of friends and family to get through it. I am truly blessed and grateful.
FRIENDS. GRATEFUL. CHEMO BRAIN SUCKS. FAMILY. RAINY LONDON.
MAKE A LIST. START AND FINISH IT.
LOVED. BE BRAVE. LOVE LIFE.