A vacation from my brain

I keep saying that I consider myself lucky for a variety of reasons. My lack of side-effects is definitely one aspect of this process that I am very grateful for. I kept my hair (although I didn’t really care about that). My nausea is manageable. The fatigue is getting worse, but it is also under control. I don’t have mouth sores or much pain. The Neupogen shots suck…but again, bareable.

Oh yeah, and I have a curable cancer and I’m in remission. And that’s been pretty good news, too.

As I continue through the treatment process, one part of me that I realize has been suffering some pretty major side effects is my brain. Or my mind? I don’t really want to get into figuring out the difference. Let’s just say – the chemo has affected my ‘thinking bits’.

Its called ‘chemo brain’ and I finally looked it up on the Interwebs.

Difficulty focusing? Check.

Difficulty multi-tasking? Check.

Periods of fogginess? Check.

Depression and anxiety? Check.

Feeling that I’m being hunted by the Care Bears? Not chemo related, just something left over from my childhood.

Freaks.

Freaks.

Between my mounting fatigue, my wandering brain, occasional bone pain and all around having cancer – I’ve been trying to cut myself a break.

The meditation classes are teaching me to live in the moment – not worry about the past (“Boy, did this summer suck”) or worry about the future (“How many more chemo sessions do I have?”). But focus on what’s happening right now. Which, if you pay attention to the present, it usually isn’t that bad and really you should stop your complaining because your co-workers are tired of hearing about it anyway.

My goal has always been to come out of this better than I came into it. Stronger. Better. Healthier.

I’ve already felt the effects of my heart opening up more. For friends and family. The kindness of strangers. A deeper appreciation of how fragile life can be. And I can’t even describe what my heart feels for the woman who has held my hand through all of this.

But one thing I’m only starting to realize is that my mind might be stronger for going through this process. If only because I’ve had to explore its weaknesses.

The pain I feel in my body has been manageable. But the weaknesses I’ve felt in my mind are less fathomable. After all, its my mind that keeps walking me through the door to the doctor’s office. Its my mind that wants to punish me when I’m too tired to blog or write or take photos. Its my mind that goes from foggy to lucid to muddled all in one afternoon…but always manages to find its way back again.

I’m looking forward to having my mind back. I think we make a good team. And I’m looking forward to putting it to good use soon.

Now that I’ve gotten the call that I’m in remission and I’m starting to focus on the next steps in my treatment, I see there’s plenty of time for work and problem solving and creativity coming soon.

For now, there’s a lot of Facebook Scrabble to play, movies to watch and sunsets to appreciate. And I’m okay with that. I’ll cut my mind some slack.

Because soon, its back to business.

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5 responses to “A vacation from my brain

  1. Sooooo happy to hear you’re officially in remission! Thanks for explaining all these complicated medical terms to me and my small brain. I’m sending you my blue grumpy Care Bear (thunderstorm on his belly) to keep you company.

  2. steve – i dont know you. you dont know me. i met jen on the phone while she was bidding a couple of jobs with me – i was in prague she in la. jobs didnt happen. but we made a connection. and then through this to you. I hit fifty recently. a blessing in some ways. reasonably healthy happy kids. great – exhausting – wife. I have read your blogs and kept my distance,. admiring your honesty and courage. and ive kept my big english gob shut, until tonight. you see tonight I found we had a commonality. and you may have missed something here. so here i go. age. yes the thing most people dread, but the one thing that people with illness want to experience above all others. and so its strange that it is age that brings us together. you see you talk about chemo things and I want to add my comments to yours – primarily to show you how healthy you clearly are –

    difficulty focusing? try my eyes. cant see a number plate further away than 2o yards. sober.

    Difficulty multi-tasking? for fucks sake steve, youre a bloke. me too. we dont do this. ever

    Periods of fogginess? you tried a few pints of real ale recently. fogginess. comes with the territory.

    Depression and anxiety? jesus steve. im 50. ive been depressed since i realised that 60 was well within my grasp. ironic i know.

    Feeling that I’m being hunted by the Care Bears? Oh purlease. the care bares have nothing on the woodentops. but this is age related and country related.

    there you have it . proof that you are on the mend. but hey this shit gets worse. youll hit 50 and youll think, what the fuck was i worried about… No fccus, cant multi-task, fogginess. Depression and anxiety. Care Bears. Dont get me started. this is what you have to look forward to….

    get well. keep up the good work. and dont forget to moan about being 50, which you will.

    toby

  3. Care bears, eh? I’m hiding out from a leprechaun riding a unicorn, so I just want to say that I understand the mind thing – in my statuses of mind I have experienced the center blurring, a scramble, then a focus on something that is not beneficial to mental health. It’s like when the bottom falls out and there is nothing to focus on and it’s actually a kind of relief. It becomes too much to handle and I just “let it” scramble. But the center comes back and it’s better – why? because I can see a time when the center will scramble again and I will make it through it. I hope that helps in any way. Love you guys.

  4. Hey buddy. Great to read your posts and see how strong you are. And great to hear that you’re in remission. I’m a nice guy, but I really have nothing good to say about tumors. Can’t wait to hang out and eat delicious foods and drinks! I’ll be ready whenever you are.

  5. oooh remission sounds good to me.

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