Wednesday, March 30, 2016

NEWS FLASH--CHEMO BRAIN AFFECTS SPOUSES!

I notice as I progress further in my chemo treatments (now starting the 4th cycle of 3-week infusions out of a total of 6) that my brain is shredding. Like the skin you peel off your body after sunbathing too enthusiastically. Or the dust cloud when you remove your socks, entirely composed of flaky skin.

I try to remember dates and can't. I attempt to reclaim the word for something simple like "Generator," which we will install later in the spring, and cannot find it no matter how long I poke around in my brain. I am reduced to talking like someone who is trying to master English--possibly from Serbo-Croatia--and not quite getting there. "You know, honey, that thing we turn on when the power goes out so we can flush...(brain rummage) toilets and turn on the...(brain rummage) lights?"

I have to tell you this is damn humiliating for an English major and a professional writer who has published 50 children's books in my long and satisfying career. To have words fly off into space like some red-face booby? Honestly God, couldn't you help me out here?

Perhaps I shall resort to what one of my kids did in High School to remember things--use my palm as a palm -pilot, writing notes in ink on the skin--shower, email, panninis, wash wig when?


So this is my confession of a corroded brain, but I am noticing lately that my fabulous husband is suffering from some of the same problems. He will start to walk briskly into the kitchen, pause, then mutter, "Why am I here?" I will call out, "Coffee?"  "Yeah, that." 

He recently was on the phone checking into dental coverage for one of our grown kids, and I know the insurance rep on the other end has just asked, "What is the birth date of your child?" Rick pulls the phone away from his ear and shouts to me, "What is the birth date, Annie?" Once off the phone he admits, "I knew it, I just couldn't access it." Sounds familiar.

This is happening a lot. It could be discouraging, but actually it is occasion for laughter. I think it's funny that my brain is more wobbly--like my legs and hands. 'Cause I know it won't last. Once we're out of the chemo thicket, my brain, energy, and steady hands will come back. And for my husband, the same will be true. As I tell him, "Lucky you are so damn brilliant because even if your brain is shredding, you still have more to work with than many."

This earns me a loving smile, which goes a long way towards helping the trembly brain.

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