Losing My Mind

Pieces of my mind are loosening, falling. I could not think of the name of my cousin's eldest child tonight. I was emailing all the relatives to see if they wanted the coffee table and a painting that I have that were my grandparents' and I couldn't remember his name. I kept seeing his face. I knew his brothers' names and I couldn't think of his. I looked at the family email address and I could tell that it was based on the three boys' names and that it started with J. I said to L, name some names that start with J and then he did and I remembered. Jonathan. How could I forget?

Yesterday I was telling someone that I was a grandmother, that L's son married a woman with a child, and then I drank with my students (one drink, a black and tan) and three hours later I was about to say to the same person, I'm a grandmother. I thought it to myself, of saying it to her, and then I realized I'd said it earlier. But what if I hadn't realized it?

Today in my writing group we were asking one another questions and I said, No one asked me a question, then T reminded me she had just asked me a question. That's why I was answering it, why I had been talking. How could I forget?

There is chemo brain, it is real, we know because it was in the New York Times. I am too young to be senile. I forget words. I say posy instead of peony because I know the word is there, out there in the world, but I can't think of it. I slow my speech because then I have more time to find the words. I see them up there, ahead in the distance, like my cousin's face. Floating just beyond my reach. How will I be able to teach if I can't find words at the end of the sentence?

I just read the NYT article again and I see that tamoxifen can make it worse. I'm taking fish pills, they're supposed to help. I think about meditation. I think about taking a meditation class. When I was drinking my black and tan I said I had decided to take an improv class but I'd forgotten that I'd decided to and my student (my student who is 20 years younger and who does not have chemo brain) laughed in a bemused way and asked, How can you forget what you decided?


Jonah said...

It's hard for other people to understand that grief and fear over loss of mental function happens even when the remaining mental function is pretty good.

I don't know much about chemo brain but I know a lot about experiencing short term and long term memory loss, inability to find words, difficulty starting tasks, difficulty organizing what happened in the past (as in somebody asks what happened yesterday and although you remember the events you don't know that they were yesterday so you're forced to concede that perhaps you don't remember yesterday) because I experienced that for eleven months. I have gotten most of my memory back, but not quite all of it, and I haven't forgotten the fear, exhaustion, and confusion that went with the memory loss.

Cancer Bitch said...

But what caused it? And you're so young!!
C. Bitch

Jonah said...

I was thinking hypoglycemia, or possibly a stroke triggered by hypoglycemia, but I still have frequent severe hypoglycemia (below 20 mg/dl) and the memory is making a comeback. So I don't know.
But it is really really awesome to be getting it back. I love love love knowing what I had for breakfast (as well as more important things).