To me one the worse side-effects from having cancer has been the brain fog. I have found playing games helps me fight the brain fog that prevents me from writing. However I have found nothing that helps with the memory issues associated with brain fog. In fact I feel because of this memory loss I feel that I am changing. In this post I will briefly share my memory loss issues related to brain fog.
I seem to lose all short-term memory at times
My family over the last couple of years has noticed my memory has gotten pretty bad. It’s not usual for people to forget some conversations, because they are thinking about something else while listening to the other person. But this goes way beyond that. It got to a point where my kids don’t like to tell me about anything they need to do, because they know later on I likely won’t remember it and get annoyed at them for not telling them. That is another major way my family has been impacted by cancer. My kids in particular never know what I will remember and assume I will never remember anything anymore.
Over the last year I have found it necessary to take notes in my phone about any conversation I believe is important (of course I often forget to do that…). Throughout the day I will look at my notes and will have forgotten a lot of what I have written down. Before I started taking these notes I started thinking the whole memory loss thing wasn’t real. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern as to what I forget or what I remember.
Avoiding talking with others
I’m not talking about situation where something seems forgotten and then someone says something that brings forth a memory and you say “oh yeah, I forgot that”. No, these memories seem completely gone. There are times I do say “oh yeah”, but I only do that to try covering up the fact I really had no clue what happened. It is getting quite frustrating and I sometimes find myself getting quite grumpy with people because of it.
Actually, lately I have tried avoiding any social situations where there are a lot of people around. The more people there are around me, the more likely it seems that I will forget important details that have happened in the recent past. About a week ago I found myself snapping at my oldest son because his puppy was being a puppy. I love my son and his dog. I love being around them. Yet I snapped at them for no real reason, other than I believe my memory issues were overwhelming me.
My dog has learned to take advantage of my memory problems
My memory problems isn’t all bad for everyone. Lucy, the Yorkie in our family, has learned to take advantage my memory issues in an attempt to get extra treats. Usually after getting a treat for peeing Lucy would go off and be pitiful somewhere. But now she just stays there acting as if she never got a treat. This sudden change in her behavior had me wondering about why she suddenly expects a second treat. Plus, she wasn’t always waiting for a second treat, only about half the time. This had me wondering if my short-term memory issues were causing issues with me remembering giving her a treat.
To test whether Lucy was abusing my memory issues I setup my webcam on the computer where I normally give her the treats. I recorded myself working at the computer for a whole day. At then end of the day I looked through the footage to see if there were times I would give her a second treat. Sure enough, almost half of the time I would give Lucy a second treat. When I gave her this second treat I would even say the things that I would normally say. I did not once recall giving her two treats for the same trip outside that day; yet the camera shows I did.
I now have a system in place to prevent myself from doing this. Getting that many treats would be bad for Lucy long-term. This whole situation does show how smart dogs can be though…
Hopefully my memory issues improve
As I close this post all I can do is hope that my memory problems improve. I’ve spoken with other cancer patients who had brain fog similar to what I experience; and their memories improved after a couple of years. Of course, I’ve also spoken with a couple of patients who feel their fog never got better and with yet other patients who never experienced brain fog. For the sanity of my family I hope to be one of those who is able to navigate out of the brain fog.
PS. Good news. I think we are closer to the launch of the podcast!!! Yeah!!!
Song of the day: Forgot to remember to forget
This classic song actually documents the opposite of the problem I have. But this song comes to mind when I think about forgetting. Elvis Presley originally recorded this song. There is also a Beatles version. But I happen to really like the Johnny Cash version:
Bonus Song: Going slightly mad
If I ever completely mentally lose it, I have a feeling it will be due to these memory issues. In this track Freddy Mercury and Queen explain how I feel at times. (and no, I’m not actually going mad yet).