Monday, November 25, 2013


Chemobrain seems to be getting more press and I've likely saved the links to the most recent information somewhere.  The problem?  Where??  I will locate them and I will update the information page.  The more I read, the more I believe as science begins to unlock some of the secrets being held in our brains, the advances will translate across many different diseases. That's just an educated guess, an opinion, an observation based upon reading and seeing many similarities.  Don't even ask for an example.  I have plenty.  Just can't recall where.

This post was written almost 18 months ago.  It captures a day in the life... or a week or... in some cases, months.  Big blocks of time, and not big blocks of progress.

This is my biggest frustration and those mini projects I expected to address back in June of 2012?  They remain on that every growing to do list.  Welcome to my world.  Aside from the word drops, completely losing my train of thought, forgetting entire conversations, it's the distracted brain that wreaks the most havoc.

As originally posted in June of 2012 

It doesn't take much to throw me off track.  After yesterday's stint in my office, I see that "getting thrown off track" also translates into losing track of time.

This is the one element of my chemobrain that I would love to find a better method of controlling but THIS is the the element that seems to worsen despite my very best efforts.  Ok.  Who the hell am I trying to kid here?  I am distracted. Constantly. What constitutes a distraction?  Something as wondrous, quick and fleeting as the hummingbird I happened to see outside my patio door or something ELSE, like the water pouring into my basement for the second time this week, despite the thousands of dollars spent on a fancy french drain system to keep aforementioned basement from ever flooding again.

Yesterday, I was determined to plow through the massive amount of paperwork I managed to accumulate in my office. The room where I spent MY LIFE until a few months ago has turned into the equivalent of the land of the misfit toys in that very old version of Rudolph.  It's an epic mess and I got a good look at just how epic the mess has become.

I no longer open mail.  I bring it into the house.  Sort it out.  Toss the junk (without shredding it, shame on me).  Put the "important stuff" on the staircase.  That's the holding cell for anything that belongs on the second floor of my home. Rather than use this as an opportunity to get in some weight bearing exercise, I accumulate "stuff" and bring it up all at once.  And then, I don't look at it.  There are just small piles of daily mail strewn about the room.

Today, I saw just how many small piles I'd managed to amass and how long they have been sitting there.  Since. March. And, it is now June.  Three MONTHS of bills accumulated.  Hell.  I only brought that mail up last week.  Until I remember. Embrace the new brain, AM.  It has no concept of time.  Great combination..... distractions plus the inability to properly judge time in minutes, hours, bedtime, and now weeks and MONTHS??

It took me almost a year to coordinate every single bill that comes into my home.  In an effort to preserve the credit I painstakingly maintained for decades, I knew I had to do something.  This element of my chemobrain was decimating my credit.  I found the best possible work around solution.  The bills are on autopay or they are being billed to a credit card which is on autopay for the only the minimum payment.  At some point, I DO have to focus and pay the credit card bills. In Full.  I don't carry balances. At least I didn't.  In that other life.

How does someone who was at the top of their game in the world of accounting find themselves providing utility companies with access to their checking account???  If anyone has an answer, I would be much appreciative.

I'm embarrassed to admit I have checks from April that are sitting on my desk, too.  Checks that I can simply sign and photograph with my phone and viola!  The money is in my bank account.  The checks have been sitting there for two months, too?  Since there is a limit to the number and/or dollar amount of the checks, I can't even dispense of that chore in one sitting.  Maybe I should just take a ride to the bank?  {Noteworthy:  I think I've finally gotten the check deposit thing under control... they don't sit for months, it's generally no more than two weeks.  One improvement I can identify some 18 months later, just ONE of many issues but hey, it's something}

Between today and tomorrow, I will finish plowing through the mess of papers in that office.  Then, I will bring in help. Someone to sit with me and purge the file cabinets of the old stuff.  I need to clear the clutter.  The amount of the clutter in that office is in direct proportion to the severity of my chemobrain.  If I can reorganize, things will be better.  I keep saying that.  I keep coming up with another light bulb moment and I have yet to find the one that will keep me on track.

I finally understand precisely what Tim Ahles (google his name... he's pretty big in this game) meant when he said someone who is retired and has little responsibility will find it far easier to deal with the cognitive issues than those who still maintain some semblance of daily responsibility.  I went into a total panic earlier when my husband suggested I might need to go into the (real) office one day next week to review what is on someone else's computer.  I felt myself beginning to get flushed at the thought of sitting in a noisy office.  The cross talk.  The interruptions.  Trying to figure out someone else's methods of billing when I can't pay one bill on time.

And then I recall the last time I went into the office.  It was calm but to me, it felt like one big commotion.  I remember actually putting my hands over my ears in an effort to shut out the noise.  I need complete silence or I can't concentrate. The whole incident served as a reminder.  THIS is something you can no longer do.  And I got upset.  The reminders upset me.

I couldn't get out of there quickly enough.  When I did, I became completely disoriented and took a scenic route through some not so scenic (or safe) neighborhoods in order to get home.  With the navigation system directing my every turn. And the map on the dashboard.  And the fact that I've driven that very route dozens and dozens of times.  I was panicked to the point of tears.  Where the F*&%K am I?  I recognize the street name.  Do I turn left or right?  I can't discern left or right without thinking about it for a second.  When driving, that's an issue.  And driving in and of itself is another issue for another conversation.....

I tried my very best to laugh as I navigated those streets making lefts instead of rights, staring at some of the dilapidated buildings in the not so stellar neighborhoods through which I was driving. 

But sometimes, it's just not funny.

I really do miss my organized brain.

I miss the reliable brain.

The one that showed up each and every day.

Wait!  I think I hear water dripping...... Were those actually **snowflakes** I just caught out of the corner of my eye?  What time is it?  When do I have to be at yoga?  Don't I have a meeting tonight?  What time?  Where am I?  WHO am I?  What the hell happened here?

Oh, yes..... now I remember.  It's a thing called cancer.  After the fact.  Many years after the fact.
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  1. I am with you on this overflow of to-dos. We need some personal assistants, stat!

  2. dear anne marie,

    you know what I hate? if I have big lapses and explain that I have chemo brain, nine times out of ten, the person will blow it off and say something like, "well, I never had chemo, but the same thing happens to me ALL THE TIME.". blech.

    much love and light,

    Karen X0X0X0X

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