I know you’ve got to be getting tired of hearing about my chemo brain in all my ramblings on the Interwebz. Day after day it’s my go to excuse for the stupid things I do – locking myself out of the house, placing dinner in the oven but never turning it on, continuing to watch Parks and Recreation just because I love Amy Poehler although it’s clearly never going to be funny, etc. And yet, here we go again…
Rocco sometimes fusses that all my talk about chemo brain might even be detrimental. I guess he thinks it’s some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy or something…like if I keep saying how dumb chemo made me, I’m going to eventually turn into a drooling shell rooming with my Aunt Lynn in a group home somewhere. I used to tell Aloysius that if he kept nuking me, my only future employment opportunities would be in fast food and the Republican Party.
But never fear dear Rocco (and members of congress), I think the brain is almost back! I don’t know if I could still juggle twenty projects on four hours of sleep while hosting an international event for 300, but I get most of Thom’s jokes now. (You’ve got to take your victories where you can get them.) I’m spending less time trying to find words. I can usually follow Dad’s discourses on investing wisdom…usually. Sometimes I even divine whodunnit half way through the bad action movies Rocco makes me watch. People have started asking my advice on things again — both personal and professional. That HAS to be a good sign, right?
….and sometimes….I have moments of total and complete BRILLIANCE!
A dear friend and fellow cancer survivor (though she’s still slugging through the trenches – send her good thoughts, ya’ll) gave me a pair of books on the subject of brain-go-boom. The first, ChemoBrain: How Cancer Therapies Can Affect Your Mind is pretty fucking depressing. There’s no two ways about it. The chapter on AYA’s had me making lists of all the things that could still go wrong with my brain and body. I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy. So the moral of the story is STAY AWAY FROM THAT BOOK. This is the book you give to someone that doesn’t think chemo brain is real. If you’re sure it’s for reals (and trust me, it is) then this book doesn’t have much to offer you but fear. I’ve yet to meet a survivor that doesn’t already have a healthy dose of terror.
Granted, I’m just the teensiest bit Type A so I don’t like to hear about a problem unless we’re also talking about possible solutions. This brings me to the second book. Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus is exactly the type of book I’m talking about. I much prefer the tone of this book. I think it’s no small coincidence that one of the authors is a cancer survivor herself. While the first book takes the approach of “you’re totally fucked and this is why,” this one feels like you’re sitting at a coffee house with a dear friend who’s been through the exact same thing. First she holds your hand and describes exactly what you’re feeling, even throwing in a few self-deprecating anecdotes to put you at ease. Then, she shares the tricks she’s learned and gives you actual tools to navigate the brain drain yourself. There’s even a chapter entitled “Nine Daily Steps You Can Start Doing Today.” How could I not love a book that tells me I should drink not one, but TWO glasses of wine every day?! That’s the kind of chemo brain improving regimen I can really get behind.
Another one of the tips is to “Set Your Biological Clock to the Right Time, and Keep it Running Regularly.” Basically they say you should try and wake at the same time every day, and preferably awake with the sun rather than an alarm clock. One of those things is easier for me than the other. I definitely feel better when I’m up and at ’em in the 7 o’clock range, but there’s been none of that this week. Between the rain and my broken heart, I’ve had more than a little trouble dragging my ass out of bed before 9am. I’ve tried everything – going to be earlier, setting alarms, drinking huge glasses of water right before bed…you name it. No dice. My eyes pop open at 8:47 no matter what I do.
In typical Elly fashion, I was starting to get rather upset with myself and was gearing up for a good old fashioned self-flogging when my moment of sheer brilliance hit me harder than the smell of rotting brussel sprout stalks currently emanating from my kitchen garbage can. I’ve already found the solution. I don’t have to do a damn thing but wait. If I’m consistently waking up between 8:30 and 9:00 right now, on Sunday I’ll start consistently waking up between 7:30 and 8:00. Problem solved. Thank you Daylight Savings. Oh thank you, but really no applause is necessary.
That’s right folks – my next project may well be taking over the WORLD.