Chemo Brain

Posted on October 8th, 2008 by Cam.
Categories: Let's talk.

I am quite amazed actually how my body has returned to such a healthy state so quickly. I literally feel like I have a normal mid-thirty year-old body. Absolutely amazed. I am riding every day into work, having no problem at the gym and feel like I could do anything at the moment. In the midst of my body being okay, it highlights the effects of the chemotherapy on the brain. This is often called chemo-brain.

I was chatting with a lady at the gym yesterday who is a vet but has headed back to work in a support admin position as her thinking capacity had been altered after chemo. She specified that her ability to grasp concepts had been severely affected, and she found herself making errors in simple calculations.

For me, it has been just as much of an issue. My ability to find the right words, remember conversations, follow directions etc. has been really hindered. I’ve realized I forget specific details, repeat myself, or forget specific details. I am hoping it gets better over time, but it has been a more significant factor than what I would have thought before.

Peripheral awareness has also been affected and I notice this mainly when I am driving. I drove on some days when my body felt energetic and capable, but I genuinely lost interest in checking my blind-spots, looking in my mirrors, indicating and taking off or stopping gently. It was as if I had actually refined my driving skills, rather than lost them. And it is not as if I became completely useless behind the wheel – not everyone can say they’ve driven themselves to biopsies through oncoming traffic.

It has been six months now since my last lot of chemo, which was the high-dose proceeded by the stem cell transplant. I feel like my chemo brain is improving over time, but the improvement seems erratic rather than consistent. These days, I can’t play chess, do complex mental calculations or remember words to songs. But these are a few of the things that I couldn’t do before the chemo anyway. I consider this consistency is a positive thing.

Any comments indicating nothing at all in me has changed will be spammed.


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