Fuzzy Brain

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MoonDragon
MoonDragon Member Posts: 183
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
Has anyone had problems with their memory? I had a resection recently in October of 2007 with chemo and radiation and a cancerous gallbladder removed in February of 2008. My memory has literally been shot to pieces since. I don't know if it's the anesthesia from the surgery, a reaction to the chemo or a combo of both. I can have the same conversation multiple times and not know it until someone makes me aware of it. My boss recently told me that I need to start caring a note pad around...ouch!!! The worst was when I found myself on the freeway and couldn't remember where I was going and was scared to death I wouldn't be able to remember how to get back home. Is this normal or do I need to look into it?

Thanks!!


Jorie
«1

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  • CherylHutch
    CherylHutch Member Posts: 1,375 Member
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    Chemo Brain
    Jorie... welcome to the wonderful world of Chemo Brain :)

    It is a very very common "side affect" to chemo, but the good news is that it does eventually improve. I'm not sure when you stopped chemo? Chemo brain can last for a good year after you finish chemo, although that varies from individual to individual. It usually takes chemo a good 1-3 months to actually leave the body, and chemo brain can take a little longer to start clearing up. If it has been more than a year since you stopped chemo and you are still having these big memory lapses, then it probably wouldn't hurt to mention it to your doctor next time you see him/her.

    But definitely, it is not at all unusual to have memory lapses from chemo. Some gals have the double whammy of being thrown immediately into menopause because of the radiation or chemo (or combination of both) AND chemo brain. Not a pretty sight and is enough to scare the strongest of women ;)

    Hugggggs,

    Cheryl
  • VickiCO
    VickiCO Member Posts: 917
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    Yes ma'am...chemo brain
    Even though my chemo stopped Dec 29, I am still having memory issues. I forget words in the middle of a sentence, forget whom I was calling while I am dialing, lose things, etc. It's 'normal' with chemo. Don't let it get to you. Your boss is right, make notes. I don't make any promises or discuss serious business with my writers or clients, I leave that to the two wonderful women who work for (with) me for now.

    And I am one of the lucky ones who is now in menopause AGAIN - the hot flashes are a real delight, let me tell you. I thought I was all finished with this crap!

    Now, what were we talking about?????

    Vicki
  • Buzzard
    Buzzard Member Posts: 3,043 Member
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    VickiCO said:

    Yes ma'am...chemo brain
    Even though my chemo stopped Dec 29, I am still having memory issues. I forget words in the middle of a sentence, forget whom I was calling while I am dialing, lose things, etc. It's 'normal' with chemo. Don't let it get to you. Your boss is right, make notes. I don't make any promises or discuss serious business with my writers or clients, I leave that to the two wonderful women who work for (with) me for now.

    And I am one of the lucky ones who is now in menopause AGAIN - the hot flashes are a real delight, let me tell you. I thought I was all finished with this crap!

    Now, what were we talking about?????

    Vicki

    Memory
    I forgot the question ???
  • taraHK
    taraHK Member Posts: 1,952 Member
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    yep
    Oh yes -- I sure know what you mean. I call it chemo brain -- and I understand there is some evidence for this. In my case, possibly compounded by age, menopause -- and I've never had a great short term memory!

    It can be disturbing. But, I try not to let it bother me. I write notes (what did we do without post-it notes??), to-do lists. And, I find that saying/repeating things out loud can be very helpful (for example, while driving along the highway!) -- use all the channels available to you (auditory, visual, motor....). Just develop strategies.....whatever works for you.

    My kids tease me about it (for example, right after I give them their allowance: "Mom, can you give me my allowance?". Oh ha ha ha.

    Good luck. You are not alone.

    Tara
  • lisa42
    lisa42 Member Posts: 3,625 Member
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    Chemo brain
    I've definitely had the effects from chemo brain too. I'm experiencing it the second time now. After my first time with chemo (Folfox/Avastin) and then surgery a three months after that, I would say after another three months (six months after chemo stopped) is when I realized I was thinking pretty clearly again and also feeling really energetic.
    Unfortunately, I had a recurrence and had to start back on chemo again- different stuff this time. After about a month of being on it, I noticed I couldn't recall the words I wanted midsentence and I was being forgetful again. It's not nearly as bad as it was with the Folfox, so I do think the type of chemo you're on can affect it. Definitely, though, chemo can be causing your problem. I also believe the anesthesia from the surgery can do things to you in that way, too. Like someone already said, if it's been a long time and it's not getting better or is even getting worse, you may want to talk to the Dr. Honestly, though, I personally think B vitamins, exercise, and other green energy drinks can help you feel better- they did me, although it may have been when it was starting to wear off my first time anyhow- I'm not sure on what actually helped it get better.
    Don't despair too much, although I know it's hard not to. You'll get better again. In the meantime, yes- write things down and even talk to your boss if you haven't already, about how this "chemo brain" is affecting you & how you believe it will start getting better soon.

    Best wishes,
    Lisa
  • lisa42 said:

    Chemo brain
    I've definitely had the effects from chemo brain too. I'm experiencing it the second time now. After my first time with chemo (Folfox/Avastin) and then surgery a three months after that, I would say after another three months (six months after chemo stopped) is when I realized I was thinking pretty clearly again and also feeling really energetic.
    Unfortunately, I had a recurrence and had to start back on chemo again- different stuff this time. After about a month of being on it, I noticed I couldn't recall the words I wanted midsentence and I was being forgetful again. It's not nearly as bad as it was with the Folfox, so I do think the type of chemo you're on can affect it. Definitely, though, chemo can be causing your problem. I also believe the anesthesia from the surgery can do things to you in that way, too. Like someone already said, if it's been a long time and it's not getting better or is even getting worse, you may want to talk to the Dr. Honestly, though, I personally think B vitamins, exercise, and other green energy drinks can help you feel better- they did me, although it may have been when it was starting to wear off my first time anyhow- I'm not sure on what actually helped it get better.
    Don't despair too much, although I know it's hard not to. You'll get better again. In the meantime, yes- write things down and even talk to your boss if you haven't already, about how this "chemo brain" is affecting you & how you believe it will start getting better soon.

    Best wishes,
    Lisa

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  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    3 years later, I still have it!!!
    Chemo brain! Yup....although, it's also useful as an excuse if you just don't WANT to do something...ROFL!!!

    Hugs, Kathi
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    VickiCO said:

    Yes ma'am...chemo brain
    Even though my chemo stopped Dec 29, I am still having memory issues. I forget words in the middle of a sentence, forget whom I was calling while I am dialing, lose things, etc. It's 'normal' with chemo. Don't let it get to you. Your boss is right, make notes. I don't make any promises or discuss serious business with my writers or clients, I leave that to the two wonderful women who work for (with) me for now.

    And I am one of the lucky ones who is now in menopause AGAIN - the hot flashes are a real delight, let me tell you. I thought I was all finished with this crap!

    Now, what were we talking about?????

    Vicki

    ...maybe your chemo brain forgot the menopause...
    So, your body is going thru it for the first time!!!

    I, personally, think that chemo brain is MUCH better that old-folks' brain...I'm planning on using it for the rest of my life!!!

    Hugs, Kathi
  • MoonDragon
    MoonDragon Member Posts: 183
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    Chemo Brain
    Jorie... welcome to the wonderful world of Chemo Brain :)

    It is a very very common "side affect" to chemo, but the good news is that it does eventually improve. I'm not sure when you stopped chemo? Chemo brain can last for a good year after you finish chemo, although that varies from individual to individual. It usually takes chemo a good 1-3 months to actually leave the body, and chemo brain can take a little longer to start clearing up. If it has been more than a year since you stopped chemo and you are still having these big memory lapses, then it probably wouldn't hurt to mention it to your doctor next time you see him/her.

    But definitely, it is not at all unusual to have memory lapses from chemo. Some gals have the double whammy of being thrown immediately into menopause because of the radiation or chemo (or combination of both) AND chemo brain. Not a pretty sight and is enough to scare the strongest of women ;)

    Hugggggs,

    Cheryl

    Who me?
    Yep, that would be me! I was thrown into menopause without so much time as to try and remember my name!! I'm at an inbetween age (42) so my doc said my menses could return or I could just be done. I'm assuming menopause gives one "scatter brain" as well?

    Jorie
  • MoonDragon
    MoonDragon Member Posts: 183
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    KathiM said:

    3 years later, I still have it!!!
    Chemo brain! Yup....although, it's also useful as an excuse if you just don't WANT to do something...ROFL!!!

    Hugs, Kathi

    The nice thing is I forget what we've been arguing about! lol
    Holy Moly, does it really last that long? I'm 10 months out from my last chemo and I did hit menopause from it as well and can't remember things to save my life. If I don't repeat things back to my husband, I can't remember the conversation. We call it "writing it down in my book". I'll give him a blank stare when he tells me I forgot to do something and he'll say, "oh, we forgot to have you repeat it back to me." I NEVER leave work on Fridays without calling him first to make sure whether I'm supposed to pick up our kids or not. I have driven home without the kids before! LOL...did I just admit that publicly?!?
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    The nice thing is I forget what we've been arguing about! lol
    Holy Moly, does it really last that long? I'm 10 months out from my last chemo and I did hit menopause from it as well and can't remember things to save my life. If I don't repeat things back to my husband, I can't remember the conversation. We call it "writing it down in my book". I'll give him a blank stare when he tells me I forgot to do something and he'll say, "oh, we forgot to have you repeat it back to me." I NEVER leave work on Fridays without calling him first to make sure whether I'm supposed to pick up our kids or not. I have driven home without the kids before! LOL...did I just admit that publicly?!?

    Kids???? I had KIDS?????
    Lucky for me, my daughters were grown when I started chemo...actually, my older daughter was my resident caregiver...poor thing....grandmother and mother with breast cancer, great-grandfather, mother, and aunt with colon cancer...she has to start mammo's at 30, and colonoscopy's at 30, too..."Thanks, mom!" is what she says...

    I say "Well, when you have a septic tank for a gene pool, what can you expect????"

    Hugs, Kathi
  • MoonDragon
    MoonDragon Member Posts: 183
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    KathiM said:

    Kids???? I had KIDS?????
    Lucky for me, my daughters were grown when I started chemo...actually, my older daughter was my resident caregiver...poor thing....grandmother and mother with breast cancer, great-grandfather, mother, and aunt with colon cancer...she has to start mammo's at 30, and colonoscopy's at 30, too..."Thanks, mom!" is what she says...

    I say "Well, when you have a septic tank for a gene pool, what can you expect????"

    Hugs, Kathi

    Wow, you did get a whammy
    Wow, you did get a whammy for a gene pool! At least you sort of knew what to expect! My kids are in the same boat. I was 33 when first diagnosed and my kids are supposed to have their colonoscopies at age 23. None of them are thrilled, especially the 23 year old! I keep telling him he needs to have it done and he wouldn't have it done before he dropped off my insurance and now he doesn't have any insurance. It really irked me because my insurance actually covered him till he was 23 and I made an appt. for him and he cancelled it. My mama bear wanted to come out in a big bad way!

    Where in Cali are you? I'm in Brea.
  • lisa42
    lisa42 Member Posts: 3,625 Member
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    Wow, you did get a whammy
    Wow, you did get a whammy for a gene pool! At least you sort of knew what to expect! My kids are in the same boat. I was 33 when first diagnosed and my kids are supposed to have their colonoscopies at age 23. None of them are thrilled, especially the 23 year old! I keep telling him he needs to have it done and he wouldn't have it done before he dropped off my insurance and now he doesn't have any insurance. It really irked me because my insurance actually covered him till he was 23 and I made an appt. for him and he cancelled it. My mama bear wanted to come out in a big bad way!

    Where in Cali are you? I'm in Brea.

    Where in Cali
    Hi Moondragon,
    I know you were asking Kathi the "where in Cali are you?" question, so I hope you don't mind me answering- I just think it's fun discovering other people in our situation who live nearby. I grew up not too far from you in Orange and then in Anaheim Hills. I got both my B.S. and my teaching credential at nearby Cal State Fullerton. After getting married in 1991, I moved down south to north San Diego Co. in Oceanside & I now live in Fallbrook.
    Well, take care-
    Lisa
  • kmygil
    kmygil Member Posts: 876 Member
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    Errr...what?
    Yep. I have forgotten mid-sentence what I was talking about. Chemo brain is real. They have mapped physical changes in the brain after chemo. It will abate somewhat, but get going with the handheld tape recorder, post-it notes and telephone messages to yourself:-) It's annoying sometimes, but you're not going senile; you're experiencing something normal.

    Hugs,
    Kirsten
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    Wow, you did get a whammy
    Wow, you did get a whammy for a gene pool! At least you sort of knew what to expect! My kids are in the same boat. I was 33 when first diagnosed and my kids are supposed to have their colonoscopies at age 23. None of them are thrilled, especially the 23 year old! I keep telling him he needs to have it done and he wouldn't have it done before he dropped off my insurance and now he doesn't have any insurance. It really irked me because my insurance actually covered him till he was 23 and I made an appt. for him and he cancelled it. My mama bear wanted to come out in a big bad way!

    Where in Cali are you? I'm in Brea.

    Right up the street....
    By California standards, anyway!!! I'm in Rancho Cucamonga.

    As far as kids, well, yeah...they CAN be a challenge...ROFL!

    Hugs, Kathi
  • msccolon
    msccolon Member Posts: 1,917 Member
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    FUN!!
    Chemo brain is a definite reality! While on chemo I find it much worse, but I still have some aspects. I finished my most recent rounds of chemo in April, but I still have instances where I can't come up with a word I need and if I am needing to remember more than one thing at a time, i usually forget the 2nd thing. For instance, MLK weekend my daughter and her family came into town as well as my twin and his family. At church, I was holding my grand child and showing her off to everybody (seriously, tracking people down in the narthex if they looked like they were going to go into church without stopping! hehehe). I kept telling myself to remember to introduce my twin and his family to them as well, so I would. Well, then I couldn't remember the name of my church family I was introducing! And these are people I've know for years! I feel embarrassed for them cause they probably think I totally don't like them since I can't remember their name, but I figure they are well aware of all the chemo i've been through so they just have to know it's not on purpose! Besides, it's so much worse when I'm actually ON chemo! At least the issues don't extend to my ability to slay bugs in the computer world, so I can live with a few lapses here and there in my conversation!
    mary
  • daydreamer110761
    daydreamer110761 Member Posts: 487 Member
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    Who me?
    Yep, that would be me! I was thrown into menopause without so much time as to try and remember my name!! I'm at an inbetween age (42) so my doc said my menses could return or I could just be done. I'm assuming menopause gives one "scatter brain" as well?

    Jorie

    yep!
    Chemo brain and menopause - what a WONDERFUL world! I am there - and using it as an excuse every chance I get - even when it isn't! I forgot my phone number the other day, went downstairs and forgot why I was there....and I do alot with numbers at work....uh oh....
  • Mike49
    Mike49 Member Posts: 261
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    I take a little L-lysine
    L-Lysine available at vitamin stores helps me, don't get me wrong its not a wonder drug, but after my third session of chemo I felt fried. I also am just 90 days post-op from a Hemi-colectomy. I took the L-lysine after some research of articles on chemo brain. I also take a vitamin B=12. I have just recently changed to vegetarian and feel good. I am just telling you what I do, everybody reacts different and I find every chemo week is different too.

    Best of luck, I was so fried a few weeks ago I couldn't remember much and was slow to respond.

    Mike
  • Kathleen808
    Kathleen808 Member Posts: 2,342 Member
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    Mike49 said:

    I take a little L-lysine
    L-Lysine available at vitamin stores helps me, don't get me wrong its not a wonder drug, but after my third session of chemo I felt fried. I also am just 90 days post-op from a Hemi-colectomy. I took the L-lysine after some research of articles on chemo brain. I also take a vitamin B=12. I have just recently changed to vegetarian and feel good. I am just telling you what I do, everybody reacts different and I find every chemo week is different too.

    Best of luck, I was so fried a few weeks ago I couldn't remember much and was slow to respond.

    Mike

    close by
    Hi Jorie and Lisa,
    Small world. We are here from Hawaii but I grew up in Placentia. We will be staying with my parents in Placentia when **** gets out of the hospital up here in LA.
    **** is still in surgery, 2.5 hours so far.
    Aloha,
    Kathleen
  • mkkuehn
    mkkuehn Member Posts: 6
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    chemo brain - does it ever go away?
    Hi Moondragon,

    I can really relate to what you were saying. I finished chemo in August (I have had 32 chemo treatments, 6 weeks of radiation, 3 surgeries and now have a colostomy bag). My memory is shot also. I was driving the other day and forgot where I was, it was scary. I email messages to myself so I can remember things. I try to write everything down. Work is rough though. People get frustrated that I am not performing like my "old self". The only person that gets it is my boss, and she can only get so much since she has not been thru this. My energy level is fragile. I love being busy but if I over do it, I need to take a sick day to sleep. It is frustrating. Thanks for listening.

    mkkuehn