I Think I’m In Trouble

1 Sep

Wednesday was a good day. Felt pretty good most of the day, just got a little tired in the evening. If that’s my biggest complaint, I can’t really complain, can I??  :)

I consider myself to be of average mental ability, but I certainly have my moments where I forget things, have difficulty concentrating (wonder if that has anything to do with Pinterest, that devil!), have a hard time remembering people’s names, and I can be slow to complete some tasks (that’s part of a perfectionist tendency that tries to rear it’s ugly head from time to time).

I’m a little concerned, however.

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

Have you ever heard of chemo brain? Me either, until recently.

A couple of friends who have gone through chemo mentioned this to me a while back and I didn’t give it much attention then.

Apparently, in addition to the traditional, more common side effects of chemotherapy, there is also something called chemo brain – a sort of mental fog – which is a mild cognitive dysfunction that can occur during and after treatment. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the symptoms are:

  • Forgetting things
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble remembering details
  • Trouble multi-tasking
  • Taking longer to finish things
  • Trouble remembering common words

Well, I hate to tell the doc, but these were fairly normal “conditions” for me prior to chemo! If it gets worse than this during treatment and beyond, we might have a real problem on our hands. Ha ha

The causes of chemo brain vary from the cancer itself to the medications used for treatment, to age, stress, low blood counts, etc.

The ACS suggests the following to cope with or help minimize the effects of chemo brain:

  • Use a detailed daily planner – Doing this already, but could be better at it
  • Exercise your brain – Hmmm, my job kind of does this, but maybe I need to add puzzles or something to the mix. Mom – does this mean I have to start doing sudoku??????
  • Get enough rest – I’m sleeping pretty good and napping when I need to on weekends
  • Exercise your body – This will happen the DAY the stent is removed (ok, maybe the day AFTER the stent is removed)
  • Eat veggies -Wonder if a diet of mashed potatoes and baked potatoes counts as veggies??
  • Follow routines – Got this one down pat
  • Don’t multi-task – This is tough to do when you work for lots of people, but I’ve also heard other productivity experts say that multi-tasking is death to productivity so there’s probably something to this.
  • Track your memory problems – Well, if I’m having memory problems, how am I going to remember to track them???

These sound like good tips for all of us, huh?

I have to say, in all honesty, I’ve noticed some slight changes in my mental abilities since having that first round of chemo. Even on days when I feel pretty good, I find it hard to concentrate and if I don’t write something down the minute I think of it – it’s gone. My memory wasn’t great before lymphoma; it’s even worse now.  I’ve also had a few instances where I couldn’t think of a word that I knew I knew, which is not something that usually happens to me.

We’ll see how this all progresses as I go through more rounds of chemo. Who knows? Maybe among the things that I will forget will be how awful I feel following chemotherapy! There could actually be an upside to having chemo brain. :)

Hope you guys have a wonderful day! Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. I appreciate each of you so very much!!


9 Responses to “I Think I’m In Trouble”

  1. Alexis September 1, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    Love reading your updates each morning, Rachel! You’re such a great writer! Praying for you. :)

    • rachturner September 1, 2011 at 8:02 am #

      Please don’t feed my ego like that. :) Thank you, and especially thank you for praying!!

  2. Becky Robinson September 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    I don’t think you are in too much trouble. Anyone who writes the way you do has pretty good control of their brain. Maybe this is the Lord’s way of letting you slow down and “smell the roses” and listen to the music. I love the selection of music you listen to. It is so uplifting. You are a real blessing to me. Reading your posts when I get up around 4 o’clock is a wonderful way to start my day. The weekends are tough for me but I hope not getting the posts means that you are able to sleep in. Keeping you in my prayers.


    • rachturner September 1, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      Oh, Becky. Thank you! You are so sweet and have been an inspiration to me for so long – the way you have carried yourself with such grace despite being in pain. Love you!

  3. Jennifer September 7, 2011 at 5:20 pm #

    Just rereading this one today. I have heard about chemo-brain but didn’t know it was called that. I had heard of the poor concentration and memory loss. Some of the tips that the ACS gives would work for anyone. And yes, maybe you can start Sudoku now!

    • rachturner September 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

      I’ve actually noticed minor instances of it. I was talking to someone at work the other day and couldn’t think of a word I was trying to say, but it’s something I would say all the time. It was strange. Never did get the word to come to me!


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