Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chemo brain redux

Part of my fear surrounding chemo is losing my cognitive abilities (aside from losing heart function and the major hit to my appearance, which had suffered enough in recent years already). My friend S had gone through a much tougher regime than myself. I have been seeing her regularly since one year out from treatment and to me, she still is the sharp-witted lady she always was, articulately stating her theories of everything. When I told her about the chemo-brain study I was enrolled in and how and what they were measuring, it just made her mad, really mad. They don't get it-that's not what chemobrain is! What she notices is that one train of thought quickly is derailed into another train of thought. She will intend to write down one thing (she is now a novelist) and finds out that she has written gibberish in its place. M also has gone through chemo-some very tough to tolerate drugs, different from Sandy's and my regime says that chemobrain still is a problem. In her case, she thinks it has given her ADD. She has many things to juggle and more often now, she finds things from slipped off her mental to-do list. She has tried the traditional treatments for ADD to no avail.

So for me, lots of self-testing. So far I am finding I am making more careless mistakes in my Japanese logic puzzles especially in Killer Sudoku. Makes me feel bad. However, I am completing crossword puzzles at about the same rate. I completed the last Sunday NY Times in less than an hour but it seemed to be an easy one. My dysphasia has worsen. This I seemed to have inherited from my mom who always had a severe fluency problem, way, way worse than mine and her Alzheimer's Disease quickly destroyed whatever speech she had while she maintained other abilities (like dismantling toilets). Sometimes the articulate Sue shows up to the plate capable of delivering professional talks at a mile a minute, but other times I stumble over simple sentences mispronouncing easy words sounding like a complete idiot. Well this now is happening more than ever much to my embarrassment and annoyance. I find I am writing alot more stuff in this that doesn't make sense. I do self edit but alot gets by my not so sharp eyes.

As for being able to pronounce words as some indication of intelligence or ability, it reminded me of a really awful argument I lost with some shitty battle axe of a teacher Shanna had in 4th grade.
Shanna was an early reader and had escaped all of my fluency disorders thankfully (poor Josh wasn't so lucky). She was always placed in the highest reading group until this bitch came along. I immediately demanded to know her reasoning. It turns out her test for reading ability was for Shanna to pronounce a list of words until she stumbled. Shanna mispronounced 'statistics' a seventh grade word so she was downgraded to a much lower group than she had been in 3rd grade. This is a word that I had mispronounced myself in the not so distant past-I who had high grades in college English, tested very high in verbal ability even though I am primarily a scientist, who writes professional papers, does she think that I read only at a seventh grade level or below? How does she test the foreign born? The bitch was unmoved. I should have had Shanna immediately removed from her class as we would never be able to see eye to eye. She especially seemed to dislike 'pretty girls' and Shayna Shanna was (is) quite pretty. I did ensure that Josh would never be in her evil, incompetent clutches. She was thankfully gone by the time Naomi came along but Naomi would have done well in her limited test. Naomi could easily pronounce and spell difficult words even though she has no idea what they mean. She has not inherited this particular trait of mine but does have a sizable learning disability that is crippling.

J visited last night. Both of us were too tired for a movie.She is a former nurse and immediately noticed the bandages on my hand. I can't believe they gave you Adriamycin through your hand vein. I had to argue for it. You would have lost that argument with me.

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