Thanks for the Memories…or not.

(We’d have a Flashback Friday, but I can’t remember anything)

It’s a good thing I have a sense of humor about this whole short term memory loss thing. 

Chemo kind of scrambled my brain, but it was getting better until I started taking Tamoxifen.  I don’t know that cognitive issues are part of the official list of side effects, but ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that they should be.  And I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how researchers have been using estrogen to combat memory loss in menopausal women.  Tamoxifen is a freakish drug that acts like estrogen in some parts of the body, and acts against it in others.  Now, I’m no fancy-pants researcher, but I’m thinking that Tamoxifen’s effect on my body’s estrogen could be to blame for this lack of memory deal.

Of course, you may be thinking, “Moody, what do you mean by memory loss?  I forget things all the time.”  Let me tell you a story that illustrates precisely what I mean. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was at homeschool co-op.  I’d had to run out and get something for Mini-Me’s class project, and also some snacks for the science fair.  After I got back, I realized that I’d forgotten to get ice.  (No, that’s not the story) I didn’t want to run back out, and I asked another mom (Tonya) if she’d mind picking up ice.  She was needing to run an errand anyway, so she said, “Sure.”  Fast forward about an hour or so.  Susie says to me, “It’s getting close to lunch.  When was Tonya supposed to be back with the ice?”  I said, “Well, she had another errand to run, but she said she’d be back before lunch time.”  Ten minutes pass and Susie and I are walking down the hallway, chatting.  All of a sudden, I see flashing across my memory, Tonya handing me the ice and me putting it in the freezer.  Yeah, that’s right, Tonya had already been back.  I nearly fell over laughing.  “Susie—I already have the ice!”  <insert hysterical laughter>  “What?”  <more laughter> “I already HAVE the ice!  Tonya brought it to me and I put it in the freezer!  I totally forgot when you asked me!”  

Wow.

The other thing I’ve noticed is a lack of focus.  Like, Hubster will be talking to me and all of a sudden I find myself thinking about something completely unrelated to what he’s talking about.  Then, I realize I’m supposed to be listening, and I try to focus, but within 2 minutes, it happens again. Usually at this point I giggle at how ridiculous this all is, and Hubster just gives me a knowing look, and then answers all the questions I have about what I didn’t hear him say. Fortunately, Hubster has been pretty good about rolling with it, although he did tell someone the other day (I can’t remember who—imagine that) that I’m not the woman he married brainwise.

But he’s really been amazingly patient with my inability to retain information.  I mean, I think it’s funny, but I’m pretty sure if the tables were turned and he was the one who couldn’t listen for more than 30 seconds, or told me the same things over and over, it wouldn’t be funny anymore.  I’d be like, “How convenient for you that you can’t “remember” anything I say!  Are you sure you even “remember” who I am?!” 

(You know, there really needs to be separate punctuation for designating something in “finger quotes”, because that’s what I was going for in the above sentences.)

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7 Responses to “Thanks for the Memories…or not.”

  1. Nicole Says:

    Ugh. I was hoping it got better after chemo. I sometimes lose a though mid sentence. Ugh.

  2. Sarah S. Says:

    I had a conversation about this subject at my support group last night. All the ladies that were taking tamoxifen had trouble concentrating and had short term memory loss.
    I have been experiencing some problems with my memory and my concentration as well. Just from my chemo. I think my husband is gettiing tired of repeating things too. I feel like I have the attention span of a knat!

  3. Mary Creger Says:

    I don’t think that Tamoxifan is the only culprit. What you are describing is clearly chemo brain, which my oncologist denies exists. Today, I walked into my kitchen several times to remove a cake from oven. I was distracted by just about everything. After 10 minutes, some of which were spent outside playing with my friend’s grandson, I was reminded of the cake. Then my friend said to me “You’ve taken your Lyrica, haven’t you?!” All the dope we are given is just wrecking havoc with our brain cells.
    Oh well….bettern’ being dead!

  4. katbur Says:

    Hi girls – There is actual research out there showing that chemo brain is real. (There’s info about it on my blog http://www.aftercancernowwhat.wordpress.com This is also a pretty popular area of research right now. If I remember correctly it was 5fu that they’ve proven it with. I have problems with word recall, short term memory and concentration. It’s not just you, there are alot of us out there. Hang in there

  5. The Moody Foodie Says:

    Yeah, I saw that the other day, and I was like, “Well, duuuh!”

    I am in kind of a unique situation compared to a lot of gals because I had about 5 months in between chemo and the start of Tamoxifen. Over the course of that time, I noticed a recovery of sorts, from the effects of chemo on the brain. Not that it was totally back to normal, but it was getting better.

    Only after I’d taken Tamoxifen for a month or so, did I start noticing a decline in the cognitive stuff. And, it seems to me to have gotten worse over the past few months.

  6. Melanie Says:

    I had something witty to say… but I forgot.
    I can’t blame mine on chemo or the like – I call it pre-menopause.

  7. katbur Says:

    So let me see if I’ve got this straight. I had surgical menopause so I can blame it on that, I’m on Femara so I can blame it on that and I had chemo so I can blame it on that too! Sweet! I knew I’d eventually find the upside of cancer 🙂


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