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This is Your Brain on Chemo

June 9, 2010

My life is now all about forward motion and continuing to stay intact during the roller coaster ride I now live on.

That being said, time for a little levity.

Chemo brain is real. I lose words, I sometimes slur my speech, and sometimes I just go blank.

The other day while watching Live with Regis and Kelly (I never watched Regis before the chemo. Well, not “never”, but “hardly ever”), Regis was gone and Kelly had a guest host with her. I knew who the actor was, for god’s sake it was Doogie Howser, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember his real name. And I knew that there was a shorter version of his name but I couldn’t think of what it was. Couldn’t remember it was just his initials. Dude. I’ve seen Harold and Kumar go to White Castle many times. Even went to White Castle after watching the movie the first time. I worried this for at least five minutes before asking The Big Nugget, “I can’t remember that guy’s name! What’s his name?”

“NPH,” he replied, kindly not reflecting worry in his voice.

“God! That’s it! Neil Patrick Harris!” I was so relieved.

And now, whenever I can’t find the right word to use, I just replace it with NPH.

Fact: Chemo can stay in the body for up to 6 months (or so I’ve heard) and I intend to use it as an excuse for anything I said that I probably shouldn’t have said.

My chemo brain has made me a kinder, gentler person. Or maybe just more confused and unable to say no. Or unable to stop myself from inviting my mom over to hang out with me yesterday. Also? It was kind of fun to hang with her.

She came to iron for me. And watch Julia Child with me. Did you know that Julia Child used cat food cans as a mold on the episode where she made English Muffins from scratch?

Mom brought me a stack of “books” to read. And by “books”, she means The Star, The Enquirer, People and more! I wonder if I can find an NPH story. Throughout my ordeals, I’ve remained worried about Angelina Jolie and Lindsay Lohan. Thank goodness I have facts now.

Then I took mom to the used book (where books are books and magazines are magazines and tabloids are nowhere to be found) sale. She moved into some guy’s personal space  so she could find some spooky movies. (Mom loves not-book-books, horror novels, and spooky movies “but only in the day time” – she told her new movie buddy.) He seemed a little offended at first, but eventually submitted, like I always have to, and started handing her movies to consider. 4’10” bully.

Time to NPH.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2010 7:50 am

    Glad you had a nice visit with your mom. Hopefully the chemo brain will subside soon.

  2. June 9, 2010 8:50 am

    NPH is a good word to use for everything… and it is always nice to have something to blame brain farts on. I blame my pain meds when I can’t remember things. Hugs!

  3. June 9, 2010 9:13 am

    To me he’ll always be Doogie. But he was cuter then. It annoys me to have to share a name.

  4. Lena permalink
    June 9, 2010 10:28 am

    Heavens – I lose words and go blank now and I haven’t been on chemo. I forget someone’s name and then wake up in the middle of the night when the light bulb comes on and I’ve remembered it. Brains are strange things even without chemo! Or then again maybe it’s just mine that’s that strange.

    Hang in there, Chica, you’re attitude is wonderful so you can’t help but get well.

  5. June 9, 2010 11:11 am

    I totally couldn’t think of his name while you were telling this story, and as far as I remember, I am not on chemo. My friend Paula is currently on chemo, too, and she has always gotten employee of the year at work and other annoying awards because she is so on top of it. But lately I have noticed her forgetting really obvious stuff, which is so weird for her. So I know of what you speak.

    Isn’t that Kelly far too thin? I mean of Regis and Kelly. I am trying to accommodate your chemo brain.

  6. June 9, 2010 11:50 am

    You go ahead and blame it on the chemo if you like, but be forewarned: forgetting words or even using the wrong ones is apparently normal for women our age. I do it all the time and was worried for a while but all my friends say they do it too.

  7. June 9, 2010 6:28 pm

    Since my surgery and having graduated from Percoset to Vicadin (well, 7 or 8 weeks ago) I experience what Chuck and I had term “Vicadin Brain”. I totally lose words and it’ll be right in the middle of some very important (LOL) something or other I am telling him. Or I will simply shut down, mid-sentence……just flat ass shut down, like some one pushed an Off button. Guess that would be going blank. So, even tho’ I’m not experiencing anything nearly as devastating as you are….I do know whatcha mean!

    I think it’s pretty cool that your Mom has been so helpful and that you have been able to pretty well tolerate her helpfulness 🙂 XOXOX

  8. June 9, 2010 9:44 pm

    I’ve never had chemo, but I am 55 years old – so I can’t remember $hit…

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