2017 is a bit of a blur for me. There are some moments that stick out; however, not many. It was the most eventful year, medically, for me and the addition of chemo to all the surgeries and hospital stays and procedures, its no wonder that it feels hazy and not quite real. Since there were so many medical issues going on and I was adjusting to so many different side effects, I didn’t say much about the issues going on inside my head. Now that I’m hitting my stride a bit more, I started noticing cognitive issues and finally brought it up to my team.
First of all, I find myself grasping for everyday words. For anyone who knows me, this has got to be one of the most difficult to adjust to. I’ve been a litigator all of my professional life, speaking publicly and advocating with words all day long, every day. To then be searching for simple words to describe something to my children has been a huge humbling adjustment. It’s never the SAT words I have to reach for, it’s the every day words, like plate or car or tree. My kids think this is hilarious and I’ve turned the frustration into something of a Socratic method type question and answer time. It’s still annoying to me, but if I don’t focus on the stress or frustration, it helps.
Secondly, I am literally unable to multi-task. I used to be able to do many things at once; juggling lots of balls in the air and complete each with pretty good accuracy. I had to be able to do this to manage all of the things in my life. Now, if I don’t focus on one, maybe two, I get nothing right. I once booked a plane ticket for the wrong day and showed up 12 hours late to the plane flight. Yep, it sucks and having to remind myself to slow down is an ongoing issue for me.
Third, I forget things. Literally forget the smallest things. I read a book or part of a book and I have to go back and re-read or re-watch nearly the whole thing. It’s frustrating and I’m down to only about a half a book a day rather than a whole book. Yeah, yeah, I’m complaining about something weird, but its frustrating and makes me not feel like myself. I can’t boast a photographic memory or anything, but I’m an auditory learner primarily and have always had a very good memory for conversations. Now, I don’t.
When I was finally referred for neuro-psychological testing, I wasn’t quite sure what the results would show. I was floored when the results demonstrated that I’ve been dealing with a 20 point IQ drop.
I’d heard of Chemo Brain and that while patients complain of the cognitive affects of chemo, doctors haven’t been sure it is really a result of chemo. I’m not going to put all of the blame on chemo, but that certainly didn’t help. All of the medication I’ve been on since I completed the summer of 2017 also has ongoing cognitive side effects. Having a hysterectomy and the ongoing suppression of any remaining stray estrogen in my body also doesn’t help.
My next question was whether there was treatment that could help me recover the missing IQ points (20 does seem like a lot) and the answer I was given was yes, there is treatment. Stay tuned next week for the treatment I’ve completed.