It's On the Tip of My Brain

I am positive that you all have heard of "chemo fog". The Internet describes it as "the mental cloudiness sometimes noticed before, during, and after cancer treatment". I blame this "fog" every time I cannot think of a fact I should know...correction...every time I cannot think of a fact I know that I know. Ya know? (I could not resist putting one more 'know' in the paragraph - ha!). There was actually a study done on this phenomena. In 2006 a study of the psychosocial side effects experienced by 26 women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, language (including fluency, verbal repetition, reading, and writing to dictation) was the most severely affected cognitive process, followed by memory. (Source: F. Downie, Psycho-Oncology 15 -2006: 921-930). This is similar to the "it's on the tip of my tongue" experience. This should make me feel better and validate the awkward situations that I find myself in time and again when in conversation I forget what I'm saying. Or worse yet, when I call somebody with a purpose and from the time I dial the number, the phone rings, and the person answers I have forgotten why I called. The most embarrassing though is when I cannot recall a word when I am telling somebody something, like a story. This happens from time to time and although I feel like I want to crawl into the nearest hole and just die there is nothing I can do but fall on my sword and confess my brain's disability. The paragraph above, of course, is the "forward" to a funny story that I must share. I was at my church's youth group meeting last night. I was in the middle of telling them a story about the flowers that were sent to me by a couple of the church boards in thanks for cleaning the youth room. The flowers were delivered when I wasn't home (I was at lunch with my bestie Marie) but my daughter was there doing laundry so she accepted the delivery. Maggie immediately text me and said that a present had arrived at the house and it wasn't from her, but it was a surprise. I told the group that I text her back a 'hmmm?' and she replied that it was a surprise but it was scaring the wits out of Jasper (our Corgi). I had re-text her after my lunch that I was heading home and very excited. 'Get excited' was her brief reply. I continue the story and I am on a roll. I tell them how when I get home the flowers are there and attached to the flowers is a large mylar balloon (yes, I said "mylar" and had no trouble remembering that word). All three of our dogs were afraid of that balloon and I went on to tell them that Jasper, our corgi, kept growling and barking and that I never even saw my.............that's when it happened, a total memory lapse. I could not think of my beloved Smokey's breed. It was like a computer virus had infected my brain and sucked out this one word. I snapped my fingers a couple of times (like that will help anything) and wondered why I could not think of my own dog's breed. I looked around the room at these 25 or so teenagers and I could see the confusion on their faces. "What is the breed of my dog?" I ask out loud to myself. All of the sudden the kids are trying to help me out. One of them says Labrador, "no" I say. Another says Pekingese, "nope, not it" I answer. "How about Yorkshire Terrier" chimes in another. I shake my head and try a quick word association aloud because that is the way it works the best. "Jasper is a Corgi and Smokey is a...Chihuahua!" There it was! The elusive word was out! Everyone seemed relieved. "Well that's chemo fog, for you." I said. One of the other adult leaders tried to ease my embarrassment by wondering what the excuse was for the rest of folks that couldn't remember something. I laughed saying I didn't know. So, if you are ever talking to me and I pause in mid sentence it's because my grey matter is trying to come up with a common word that I really do know. I can't see it through the fog...but it's there, it's on the tip of my brain!
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agree michele. chemo brain is bad enough. now i have screwed up stroke brain on top of it! my friends know me and laugh about it. strangers give me odd looks until i explain it, then they, as a rule, go gotcha and giggle with me at myself as well. at least we are here still doing our do. that is something to be very proud of. tj OD@aT
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This is me! It is so exhausting and aggravating. I thought chemo brain was only for those with chemo drugs still in their system. In my case, I am still in a fog at times. (two years later) I am guessing this will not go away and only get more confusing as age is added in the mix. I have done the finger snapping too. Like it will"presto" make my words come to me. It seems I end up playing some kind of charades game where I am trying to get my listeners to guess the word. Yikes!
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At long last there is a name for me. I have laughing at people and saying it's an age thing when I like you forget mid sentence what I am trying to say. I am going to leave your blog on screen and make my husband read it as he doesn't believe me. Keep blogging. Annabelle
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Michele, you are not alone! I used to work as a medical transcriptionist and now I have to look up even the most simple words! I also lose my train of thought easily, words escape me, I can not remember peoples' names, etc. Since I also have hydrocephalus, I wonder sometimes if that's the reason, or if it is, indeed, chemo brain--or just old age! lol! It's frustrating at times, but I have learned to just go with the flow, or lack thereof, if you get my drift! Hugs-- Martha
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!!! I got a t-shirt made up that says "I have Chemo Brain, what's your problem?" Never embarrassed anymore!!! Love ya...
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Exactly, the word goes missing and then it's a kind a verbal charades... it's a really small breed, there was one in "Legally Blonde'...
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October 3, 2011

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January 31, 1963

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Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

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Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

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April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

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