A foggy day…

A foggy day….. yep, I am referring to chemo fog, chemo brain, whatever you want to call it.   I just want it to stop.  I refuse to let cancer affect by brain cells, what the heck can I do to just get rid of this fog?

It’s been a year since I finished up chemo treatments and I hoped by now that these chemo brain moments would have dissappeared.  Nope.  My short term memory is screwed.  I have difficulty multi-tasking and I used to be the queen of it!  It’s a difficult adjustment to accept, but I really don’t want to come across as complaining.  It is what it is.  Maybe sharing my frustration with it might help someone else going through it also.  It is real and it does exist.  I have learned that doctors are studying this side affect in more depth and I have also learned that sometimes it can take years to get back to normal or perhaps never.  I will go with the flow, but let me give you an example of what a typical moment is like.

I was in Nashville last week with Rick to accompany him at a trade show for business.  I went along because I wanted to see some suppliers that I haven’t seen for 2 years due to this cancer detour stuff.  I have to say that I was overwhelmed to receive verbal “I love you’s” from people that I barely know and here they are supporting me more than I ever realized.  Wow! I am so honoured and grateful.

So we stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  This place is massive.  The closest thing I can compare it to would be one of the larger casino/hotel/convention centers in Las Vegas.  Botanical gardens, a river with boat cruises, ducks, waterfalls, shopping, garden pathways, restaurants… and all indoors!  It was so beautiful.  So really I am trying to explain how huge this place is so when you read further hopefully you won’t think I am a complete idiot and totally losing it!?

After a day of attending the trade show, lots of walking, talking, sampling, etc. , we return to our room for a little rest before dinner.  I offered to get us some ice from down the hall so we could sit & relax & put our feet up and enjoy the balcony terrace/garden view from our room.   Forty minutes later I return.  Yes… 40 minutes!

I was only going down the hall.  I should have been back in about 3 minutes.   I left the room without my purse, my cell phone, my room key, I had nothing.  I left our room door ajar because I didn’t want to carry anything with me.  I didn’t even have shoes on.  Shorts, t-shirt and a bandana on my head.  That’s it.

I made it to the ice machine.  Only one wrong turn on the way there, but I found it.  The halls twist & turn and interconnect with each other.  I started to head back to the room with my plastic bag of ice cubes.   I am thinking to myself how yucky my bare feet felt walking on the carpets, they were just cleaned, they are wet and squishy.  But they’re clean, right?  Okay I remember my room # 3022.  Crap, did it have a C in front of it, a G in front of it, an F?   Uh oh….. landmarks…. think Karrie, what was the letter?  Oh just give in and call  Rick…. oh yeah stupid, you left your phone in the room.  I swear I found every room with 3022 in front of it, but not the one that belonged to me!  At least I stayed on the right floor.  I am walking and walking aimlessly looking at passers by that I have my shit together and know exactly where I am going.  Not!   I ask a few of the housekeepers, who of course are not very good with the English language and direct me with hand signals of where to go.  Bad idea each time I asked.  I took a deep breath, leaned against the wall and decided to try to retrace my steps.  Bad idea.  One minute the squishy wet carpet is green, then it’s red, do I turn left, or right?  The ice cubes are starting to melt.  Is this what a panic attack feels like?  You are not going to cry.  You are 41 years old and you will find your room you stupid woman!  Scew cancer, it’s all your fault!  Chemo brain moment!  Ugh!  I am mortified with myself.  Who the hell gets lost simply going to get ice?  Me!  That’s who! 

Finally I find my room however the door is shut.  It’s probably Rick joking around with me to teach me a lesson for taking off without my phone, I can only assume that he figured I got sidetracked and stopped at a few of the stores nearby in the complex to do a little window shopping.   Ha Ha funny…. so not the case, however he would have been totally accurate if I actually had my purse with me….but honestly…  I was lost ! 

Lucky for me there was a housekeeping cart a few rooms down.  I asked the maid if she would be able to open my door for me.  I saw her earlier that morning so she recognized me (thankfully I was wearing the same black bandana on my head)  Not many people wear bandanas I have noticed.  With her broken English she figured out what I needed with my hand signals and sad eyes and let me into the room with my half melted ice. 

No Rick.   Oh shit.   He’s gone looking for me.  Now I know why he wouldn’t open the door, he wasn’t in the room!  I can only imagine he is either worried about me or totally upset with me for taking so long and buggering off.   I grab my cell phone.  One missed call.  It’s Rick’s number.  I send him a text message stating that I am in the room, I got lost.  I parked myself on the bed and had a moment of utter frustration and refused to cry but I had to really control myself because I was so embarassed and so frustrated.  I kept saying to myself, how fricken’ dumb are you?  Who gets lost getting ice?  What the hell is wrong with you, get your shit together!

Then it dawned on me as I was snacking on a fruit bar sample from the show.  I swayed from the usual routine of a healthy breakfast with my daily morning supplements, fruit, oatmeal, green tea, etc.   We arrived on the showroom floor around 10 am (late start on purpose).  I was hungry, but Rick isn’t a breakfast eater, so I agreed to wait just a couple of hours until lunch time to eat.  We got so busy at the show that lunch came and went, however my fingers kept going into all the sample dishes.  Bite size chocolate here, piece of fudge there, treats galore!   I was eating mindlessly.  Cancer loves sugar and I was letting it take advantage of the free buffet.  Not to mention I was so sluggish and felt like crap.  I realize now that eating so much sugary not good for you stuff really does affect you.  Especially when I have gone a year and a half with very limited sugar intake.  My mind couldn’t process it.  I truly believe that eating such non-nutritional stuff affected my thinking skills, concentration, not to mention, energy and sense of direction.  That’s it!   I’ve convinced myself, no more sugar!

Rick made it back to the room after I had my mini meltdown.  Yes, he had gone looking for me.  I don’t know how he thought he was going to find me in this massive hotel complex.  Guess I did the smart thing by texting him to tell him I had returned.  What if a housekeeper hadn’t been in the hall to let me in?  How many hours would I have been waiting at the door?  I had to go to the bathroom too and I was getting really irritated with the wet squishy carpet.

We talked it out and thankfully he wasn’t mad.  I am still mortified that this happened, but it is so stupid that I figured it’s worth sharing.  It’s just a typical instance of what chemo brain is like. 

So, let me ask you….. do you want to go on a road trip with me next week?  I’ll drive, and don’t worry…. I know where I am going and how to get there.  At least I think I do!