[cancer] The IQ tests

Just as a brief followup to last week’s post on the emotional costs of cancer [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], I had a couple of cognitive reminders today.

On boarding the plane, I tugged out the inflight magazine. Normally I can kick airline sudoku puzzles sidewise in a couple of minutes. I’m not a speed champ, but those things are very accessible to me. I haven’t touched one since the surgery, not even at home.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. I blew the “Easy” puzzle pretty quickly, to the degree I couldn’t untangle it. (I have long worked them in pen, without any of the little “hint notes” you’re supposed to use … pre-op, I could keep all the logic and conditionals going in my head without difficulty and only mark the definitive answers.) It felt like something I knew I was supposed to be able to do — I explained the rules to my seatmate, in fact. But actually doing it? No dice.

So I flipped to the crossword, and managed to rail through that like butter on a stove top. That part of my brain is working well. Which helped keep me from getting depressed about the sudoku, thankfully. And given what I do for a living, it’s just as well the lexical processors are firing on all tubes.

Then I read an actual book; Pavane by Keith Roberts. Or most of it, at any rate. This is the first new piece of long form print I’ve tackled since before the surgery. (I’ve been working on The Alchemy of Stone, but I was already into it before I got sick.) And that part of my brain is working as well, thank Ghu.

So the puzzle pieces continue to return to the table. But it’s still very weird, and discouraging, to simply not be able to do something at which I ordinarily consider myself adept.