Coming Out of the Fog


Aside from the jaw-dropping fatigue I’ve experienced with chemo, the hardest thing for me is the phenomenon known adorably as “chemo brain.”

I’d heard about this affliction before, but until I was in the throes of it myself, I had no idea how hard it would be to deal with.

Since I never really got physically ill from my first treatment, I thought I was in the clear as far as side effects go. Obviously a little brain fog and sleepiness are far superior to puking, but it just never really occurred to me how hard those “lesser” side effects would be.

I’m an editor by trade, so my job is to read and rework copy, and also to write stories for a magazine. This is work that you need a clear head to complete. Grammar and punctuation, not to mention syntax and overall organization, are sort of hard to figure out when you’re not firing on all cylinders.

Yes, this was an opportunity to take it easy and take some time off. My very kind boss and coworkers urged me to do just that. But that’s not how I operate. I need to work. It makes me feel normal. It makes me feel useful. And it feeds my passion–I love writing and editing. It’s not just a job for me; this is something I truly enjoy doing.

So, not being able to craft a clever turn of phrase, or whip some lackluster copy into something that sings really is hard for me. Looking at a Word document and feeling utterly overwhelmed because I don’t even know how to begin to approach it makes me feel like I’m out of control. My brain function is something I can’t harness and use as I want, like I’m so used to, and that drives me absolutely batty.

Thankfully, the past two days (now 5-6 days out from treatment) have been better. I know that I probably need an extra day to veg out after my next treatment. I know to be easier on myself. But it won’t be easier to do that, because even though I know self-care is the right thing at this point, it’s the hard thing, and not being wired to operate that way is a challenge I had no idea I’d have to face.

4 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Fog

  1. You will find your way through. Know that the part of your brain that works on word retrieval, and learning, is most impacted by chemo, and that it is also able to recover. Give yourself the gift of as much rest as you can, fighting fatigue while trying to perform is a double whammy.
    I found it to be a struggle to come to a place of surrender with what is. Especially when what is, is feeling lost inside my own house, or loosing track of language. I am not sure what your chemo cocktail is, mine contained two especially neurotoxic ones. I am two years out, and still slowly improving, slowly continuing to heal.
    xo iris

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so hard to deal with! I am definitely still coming to terms with letting go, and I had a good conversation with my boss yesterday about that. I still find myself saying, “Oh, I’ll be able to do that,” when we both know I probably won’t. It’s a work in progress.

      It makes me hopeful to hear that it will get better, though. Peace to you as you continue to heal!


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