Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chemo brain

Chemo brain, it's real. In 2001 I had VAD treatment for myeloma followed by an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). The treatment and ASCT included chemotherapy drugs Vincristine, Adriamycin, Melphalan and cyclophosphamide. After the ASCT I started noticing memory issues.

There was an intermittent short term memory loss.
At times a short attention span.
I had trouble remembering people’s names.
Difficulty in finishing sentences, some words were not there, or difficulty finding the right word.
Sometimes I could not remember the detail of conversations.
At work technical terms that I used infrequently were hard to recall.
I would plan to do things later or the next day and then forget about it.

I had to resort to writing notes for myself, make lists and have had to get help from whatshername, the lady I am married to. She gives me a word to help finish a sentence, a reminder to use a list or help in recalling a name.
After the first few months of chemo brain whatshername said my selective memory matched my selective hearing!!!
Fortunately it has improved over time though has not gone away completely. Lists and notes are essential.
I have spoken to other chemo patients and many have had a similar experience.
After my second ASCT in 2008 chemo brain returned and remained for 6 months when there began a gradual improvement. Twelve months after ASCT2 I was back to a pre transplant condition, chemo brain still there but more manageable.
The major myeloma and cancer web sites are now acknowledging chemo brain and are a good resource for background information.
During ASCT recovery I went to the local shopping mall by myself, walked around and had some good time out. Got back into the car and found my wife’s Foodtown card in my pocket. Then realised I left the shopping list at home but recalled there were 4 items on the list. So I walked the isles but nothing clicked. Oh dear, back home for the list. Another lesson learnt.


Pat Killingsworth said...

Hi Sid-
I have chemo brain issues myself--and I didn't even have a transplant! Just lots and lots of meds and chemo. It definitely has an effect. Sid, just wanted to let you know I have added your blog as a link on my www.MultipleMyelomaBlog.Com site. You are really sharing some great stuff lately! Keep up the great work and good health- Pat

Hildi said...

Hi Sid
I check in with you all the time.
My husband was diagnosed with Myeloma - He is 82 and already had pre-existing conditions,mainly
renal failure and heart failure.He/we have opted for no medication for the Myeloma,I watch him get thinner by the day but he never complains. I think he is in worse shape than he admits.
I guess it is a waiting game.
I feel I know you and it helps to read all your positive comments.

Sid said...

Thank you Hildi and husband,
I feel I know you both now as well. Give your husband a cuddle from Sid and Myra in New Zealand.
You are doing a great job standing next to him, a very loyal wife and caregiver.
Try to find time for your own time out.
Blessings from Sid.