We’ve all heard of and experienced “brain fog.” I’ve always applied the description to days when I’m feeling groggy and switching from task to task is slow. Honestly, I most commonly use it to describe the way I feel when I’m hungry, but haven’t become hangry yet. Or thirsty; usually a glass of water will cure the fogginess I typically experience.
But this foggy morning, while driving in to work, I thought of it differently.
I passed under tree limbs recently stripped of leaves. The fallen leaves may make the road slick. I remarked that the fog was thick up ahead, and I reminded myself to be cautious when I entered the dim and slippery area. But it never seemed to arrive.
I checked my rear view mirror. The fog was thick behind me. The fog I saw ahead was already around me, I just didn’t realize that I was in the thick of it.
That is my experience with chemotherapy. I tried to describe it a while ago. But this is the illustration for you. You see a challenge ahead of yourself, you prepare mentally and physically, you reach the place that you braced for and there’s no noticeable difference. You are surrounded in the fog, enveloped in treatment, and the change was so sudden but felt so subtle that you can’t identify the moment that you entered the fog.
Its disorienting. You feel fine because the immediate area around you appears clear of fog; check behind you, its opaque. The mist appears to be far off still. Strange; you braced for impact, there was none. You notice the tension in your brow and feel confused.
And so chemotherapy feels this way. I bolstered my energy, tensed my body, and prepared to be flattened by the poison. I expected to feel my veins light on fire, feel discomfort course through me. Instead I felt no change. I continued putting one foot in front of the other, and before I knew it, I’d spent two months in a fog. Some days were worse than others, there were some good days too, but no day met the experience I had imagined.
I’ve described some noticeable side effects from Adriamycin and Cytoxan, dry mouth still plagues me during Taxol. Fatigue too. But then again, I’m really pregnant, fatigue comes with the added weight and restless sleep. Other than that, it can be hard to remember that I’m unwell.
I forget that I’m sick. I feel the hair growing back, I notice my growing belly, I need to manage my asthma more closely, but other than that I forget to go easy. My normal resting pace is rapid activity. I pack every minute with tasks and to-do lists and as a result I’m usually late. Now, during the treatments, I get fatigued by less, I tire easily, and I don’t realize the reason why.
As I write, I feel sleepy and its very difficult to articulate these thoughts which were so clear this morning. Its a shame because I feel as though I’m not doing myself justice. But then again, that’s something I am relearning: give myself a little grace and patience because there is a fog. After a while, it’ll pass and I’ll thrive.
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