An Update and Some Chemo Brain Stories

First, an update. After experiencing stress dreams, I left a message for my oncologist to inquire about the next steps and mentioned that I had not yet heard about a radiation oncology appointment. The following day, I had an appointment with the local General Practitioner Oncologist (GPO), which they referred to as a toxicity appointment, to ensure that I was fit to proceed with chemotherapy.

During the appointment, I expressed my concern about the lack of information to the nurse and doctor, who reached out to my oncologist in Halifax. I discovered that they regularly communicate via text message and that my oncologist in Halifax was surprised that I had not yet been contacted by radiation oncology. As a result, the GPO here made an additional referral and provided an update, stating that my chemo was progressing as planned, with my last chemo session scheduled for December 27th, the first day they reopened after the Christmas/Boxing Day holiday.

On Wednesday December 27ty, as I sat in the chemo chair, I was informed that my next appointment was to be in Halifax on January 16th, which was odd because I already knew I had a phone appointment with my oncologist around that time. I’m grateful that my oncologist doesn’t require me to drive into Halifax for appointments that mainly involve discussions without any physical exams. It saves both of us a lot of time. However, it would be great if they could implement video conference calls for oncology appointments, as they do for other telemedicine consultations. Fortunately, the situation is gradually improving.

While the nurse was preparing my medication, I received a phone call from radiation oncology. My appointment is scheduled for Tuesday, January 2nd, in Halifax. They didn’t specify the duration, so I’m unsure if it will only be a consultation or if they will also include the simulation at the same time. There are many logistics to arrange because the radiation treatment will take place in Halifax, and it’s not feasible for me to drive there and back every day in February due to weather conditions and the 1 hour and 15 minutes round trip under normal circumstances.

So, within a week, I will have a better understanding of the next steps. The GPO mentioned that radiation often starts four weeks after the last treatment, so it will likely be in the first week of February. I have a mugga scheduled on January 12th to check my heart, a follow-up with my medical oncologist on January 16th to discuss the overall strategy, and a Herceptin infusion on January 17th. January is going to be a busy month with medical appointments.

Now, let me share a couple of stories about chemo brain. It affects me in peculiar ways, especially right after my TC infusion. I’m thankful I’m done those! I struggle with multitasking when experiencing chemo brain, and my thinking tends to be quite literal.

The first incident happened when my husband was installing a water hose for the fridge. He told me to “watch the hose” to prevent it from spraying everywhere when he turned it on. So, I stood there watching it as he turned it on, and it sprayed everywhere. He didn’t instruct me to hold onto the hose to ensure it didn’t spray everywhere. It didn’t occur to me that I should be holding onto it. I simply followed his directions.

Then, yesterday, he asked me to create some simple signs to be printed on 11 x 17 paper to guide the delivery drivers. So, I did as he requested and made the signs. I made the text as big as it could fit, but it never occurred to me to make the signs in landscape orientation so that the text would be larger! Of course, he didn’t notice until after printing – oops. The funny thing is, I remember thinking that I wanted the text to be larger, but it just didn’t cross my mind to change the page orientation.

These are the kinds of silly things that happen with chemo brain. In one moment, I can handle higher-order thinking, and in the next, my brain takes things quite literally, and I struggle with multitasking (I attribute the latter issue to being interrupted from a writing project and transitioning to sign making, which involves different cognitive processes).

I find it amusing when these incidents occur, as long as they don’t cause any significant problems. It’s surprising that it hasn’t happened more often given the intricate details I’ve been dealing with during construction. Fortunately, I’ve been able to rely on others for double checking at least some of my issues.

  • Becky

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