[cancer|personal] Brain, brain, what is brain?

I’m not as together as I’d like to think. Two recently mailed items of late have suffered from insufficient postage, a third returned because I’d put some random address on it rather than that intended. Yesterday I managed to lose my eyeglasses, a moderate crisis of rather expensive proportions in the resolution. Lately the anomia seems to have been on the uptick, though possibly I only have noticed this because I’ve been deep in writing Sunspin. Also, the slightly higher order memory errors, like confusing the Web comics Questionable Content and Something Positive in conversation.

I never used to make such mistakes. Or at least very rarely. Now, in the past week or so, there has been a rash of them. This worries me.

Maybe it’s not lingering chemo side effects. Maybe these are middle aged moments. As one of my doctors said to me a while back, much of what I’ve been grumbling about is part of aging. Apparently I’m just lucky enough to have specific, catastrophic events to associate with the transitions.

Man, I hate this stuff. My brain used to be a finely-honed precision machine. Now it’s finally a moaning imprecise bean.

Cancer sucks. So does getting older.

8 thoughts on “[cancer|personal] Brain, brain, what is brain?

  1. privacy says:

    Speaking from my own experience: It takes a long time to recover from a bad case of chemo brain. Eventually, your brain *will* recover.

    (Not everyone suffers from it, there are some ongoing studies to see if it’s linked to previous conditions.)

    – During chemo and after, I couldn’t learn new things and I couldn’t write creatively
    – I had the feeling that my brain improved faster when I started doing formal exercises from a book (it was some how-to book on assessment center test methods, but I guess any kind of diverse “brain jogging” would have done the trick). I also struggeled my way through a “teach yourself [some field I hadn’t covered before] book. It made the eventual improvement more “visible”.
    – When I felt that “I’m back to normal” – I was still a far way from “back to normal”.

    So: Don’t worry too much. I’m really impressed by the amount of writing you get done. For all other things: Post-it notes are your friends 🙂

  2. Josh Jasper says:

    I get those sort of memory issues form insomnia. I forget things, mislabel things, stop in the middle of doing something and forget what i was doing, h, and swapping names like QC and, uh, what was it again? [looks up] SP.

    And just drawing a blank when last week I was able to recall things.

    Bah. We hates memory issues, we does.


  3. Griffin says:

    Cognitive function is reduced under stress, and you have been going through more than your share of late. You have spoken often of how busy you are, and the other changes you are going through in life. When it may not show in reduced sleeping, it shows in other ways.

    My two cents.

  4. “… confusing the Web comics Questionable Content and Something Positive…”

    I do that all the time. It’s understandable.

  5. It has taken people I know a couple of years to get their brain fully back to rights after the sort of treatment you’ve had. The good news is it gets better!

    Things that have helped them: hit your health food shop and see if you can find asterzan or cell food. Cell food makes a lot of bold claims about itself… which can’t be verified. But I am taking it and so is a post cancer friend and we notice huge positive changes.

  6. Well, I’ve had similar experiences the last few years. Mind and memory like a precision machine going to something that lapses more and more regularly. I don’t know how much is age, how much is being a professor with too many things to do and remember (absent-minded stereotype is a stereotype for a reason), and how much is the goddamn internet fracturing our attention (read a good book about that recently, but can’t recall the title/author now, naturally).

  7. Matte Lozenge says:

    Everyone here has good observations that may well be correct for Jay. I’ll throw another (maybe silly) idea in the ring: the process of writing Sunspin itself could be sucking up so much brain energy on the conscious and subconscious levels that forgetfulness in other areas of your life could result. You’ve never had that effect from writing before, but you’ve also never written such a large and intricately plotted work before.

    Like I said, maybe it’s a silly idea. But it happens to me — when I’m totally absorbed in a mentally difficult project, I tend to fuzz out on other things.

    They don’t call ’em absent-minded professors for no reason…

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