Brain Fog and Other Interesting Things

So here I am the day after chemo, and the side effects are already starting. For whatever reason, my brain seems to be functioning worse than before. I’m having a hard time concentrating – harder than usual. I can’t read a long paragraph without losing the thread half way through. And forget trying to find the right word when I’m speaking or writing. I often have to leave a blank when writing and go back to it. I hate that part most of all. I’m a language/grammar/literature nerd, and not being able to read and write without putting a lot of effort into it bums me out. I used to be able to hammer out paragraphs and paragraphs of fiction in one sitting. Without having to edit much. Now, I can’t even write one paragraph for my blog without slowing way down and re-reading every word several times before hitting the publish button.

The depression is also hitting hard this evening. I know it’s the chemo and the steroids – much of the steroids are the extra ones I’ve had to take along with the antibiotics for the aspiration pneumonia I suffered a week ago. I’m still taking oral antibiotics through Saturday, and have one more day of the steroids. The good news is that my lungs have cleared, and I’m not coughing up a bunch of junk any more. And the wheezing has stopped, so no more giggling at the weird sounds coming from my chest. Spud appreciates that too as the noises seemed to disturb him. His responses were funny and kept me giggling so hard some nights I kept myself awake.

Other side effects, like the numbness in my face and the mucous membrane soreness and pain aren’t as bad because my dose of Taxol was reduced a little. But I’m still having them. I can put up with all of that as long as I know the drugs are doing what they’re supposed to do. And so far they are.

There have been some adjustments made in the other meds I’m taking – my diuretic was increased because the Avastin was causing my blood pressure to start creeping upwards, and the medication for my acid reflux has been doubled. I notice the reflux is worse on chemo day and the day after and then gets better. But I’m still having to sleep sitting up, which doesn’t make for a very restful sleep. I wake up dragging, and even napping during the day doesn’t help. I’m hoping the increase in the meds will help.

So basically I’m still here, and rapidly approaching my one year anniversary of diagnosis. One part of me still can’t believe I have lung cancer. And there are days when I don’t want to see or read anything about lung cancer. But I’m a researcher by nature, and I can’t resist digging deeper when I see an article about a new trial, or a new treatment, or a new diagnostic test. Sometimes I feel detached from myself and my diagnosis, as if it’s happening to someone else. I have since learned that there are components of PTSD associated with a diagnosis of lung cancer, so that would explain the detachment. And it’s something I will explore further at some point. But for now, I’m just doing the best I can to be here in the now and take one day at a time. And I suppose that’s all anyone ever does.

Onward and upward!

20 thoughts on “Brain Fog and Other Interesting Things

  1. Your daily struggle with these wretched side effects and plethora of meds is painful to watch from the helplessness of the sidelines. I so want to hold your hand, hug you, bring chocolate to soothe your weary soul, and laugh away a few moments here and there to help forget about the cancer. Know that you are always in my heart and mind, and there, I am doing all of that with you in spirit. You are making amazing progress and I’m so glad you’re still here. Onward and upward, dear Ruth. 💖

  2. Onward and upward, Ruth! I just love that saying. It must be very frustrating to lose concentration and I really don’t know how I would cope with that. I find it interesting that there are components of PTSD associated with a diagnosis of lung cancer. This is something we don’t really look into when someone is ill because we’re all looking at the major disease. Sending you big hugs and thinking of you xxxx

  3. Thank you, Dianne. It’s amazing what’s out there on the internet. I love it! I imagine that PTSD is involved any time there’s a life-threatening illness. And yeah, the lack of concentration is very frustrating for a writer – or a reader for that matter.

  4. Iva Pokorny says:

    Onward and Upward! I am going to try to remember that today and this week-end.

    I hope that you will feel better soon .. after your chemo.

    ❤ ❤ ❤

    Hugs. Zillions of gentle gentle hugs as I sit next to you ….

  5. I like the frequency with which you describe some of these crappy side effects as “interesting.” The one thing that does is insert a little distance. It makes observing what’s happening to us a little more like watching a laboratory subject. Some people would say that’s bad, but I don’t think it is at all. There’s so much emotion and other “subjectivities” involved with all this, a little distance isn’t a bad thing.

  6. I read your blog again. We did a full stop and downward to your Onward and Upward. We were supposed to attend a dog week end with a 6 hour drive, one way, to get there. Today we finally got the schedule. It is gruesome .. start at 8am .. stop at 10:15pm for 2 days. On our arrival Friday, it was from 6pm to 10:15pm! So, we told a white lie, and said no thanks. Robert’s uncle, who is quite ill, is having a get together of family members that rarely meet. We had opted for the dog thing.

    And why am I telling you all this? I don’t really know. Probably because you are such a trooper. And it is ok to stop and downward, too. To pick your battles and priorities even though not everyone will agree with you or understand. Maybe even you, yourself, may not understand. And to inform you that here it wasn’t onward and upward this time. Or was it? I don’t know.

    Oh, hugs, dear Ruth, anyway. I hope you can truly rest a bit this evening.


  7. I’m sorry you have to struggle with this illness, Ruth. You sure are a trouper about it, and I can’t see any evidence in your writing of the brain fog you describe. 🙂

  8. Thank you, Lisa. I see the difference, but then we are always our own worst critics, aren’t we? I used to just dash off a post and hit publish, but now I have to read and re-read to correct the errors. 😦

  9. Saying it out loud is sometimes very helpful, Ruth. So just writing how you are feeling now might be good for what ails you. Our friend had ovarian cancer and she experienced the brain fog you speak of. It drove her crazy and when it got really bad -so bad she didn’t even know she was forgetting things-it drove her husband completely crazy. It’s been over 10 years now and her mind is back but she did struggle. Please continue to have hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.

  10. Ruth, thank you so much for your kind comment on my blog I really appreciate it. I’ve read most of your blog and for the first time I think I now have some idea about what to expect when the chemo starts. Of course I won’t really know until they start pumping that stuff into my body, but I was clueless before. I am full of admiration for you in how you are dealing with your cancer, I know you have no choice but to deal with it however your strength and fortitude are inspiring. Thank you for reaching out to me and I wish you all the strength, comfort, love and positivity you need. I am standing by your side sister and holding your hand. Big love AJ 🙂

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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