Chemo Brain – You ALMOST Broke Me…

At first glance, the photo above looks like that of any ordinary person who arrived at the airport a little early and was killing time…but what you don’t know, is that person in the photo was barely holding it together, hardly able to breathe, on the verge of breakdown; holding it together by a string, with tears streaming down her face in an airport food court, while my friend on the phone was telling me this was no big deal..but to me, it was a HUGE deal…it meant that things were different….it meant that my chemo brain, had won…for the first time…

I’m prefacing this with “NO, I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, I’M FINE…”, so please don’t bring it up, even if you’re reading this and think it’s a good idea…I’m merely sharing because other women out there need to know that they’re not the only ones who have things like this happen to them.

I’m struggling with transposing things – numbers, dates, times.  I struggle with reading a calendar.  I see things and register a different date and time in my head, even though it clearly states what time I need to  be some place.  Last week I was in Kansas City for work for most of the week, the children were with their dad on spring break.  Everything had gone swimmingly, but I was tired, had an unexpected personal thing come up that I spent three days going back and forth on, and I wasn’t fully focused where I needed to be…it became evident just how much the tired and not 100% being focused effected me when I approached the Southwest ticket counter, looked down at my phone to hand it to the ticket agent and saw that it said “now boarding”…not possible, I was an hour ahead of time, I had plenty of time. She saw the panic come across my face – unfortunately, when panic mode sets in, I can’t think and I freeze.  “Ma’am, let me take a look I’m sure….” and then “oh my, it’s okay, they just completed boarding, we can get you on the next flight, no charge.”  I couldn’t tell her what to do, I was supposed to be somewhere, I don’t miss flights, I fly ALL the FREAKING TIME…I DON’T MISS FLIGHTS…EVER….but I did…

How does that happen??  Not because I was lazy, not because I wasn’t paying attention, I’d checked the flight 2 times…I guess I should have done my regular three though. The issue is this, when given two sets of numbers, side-by-side, I read them differently than you do, unless I’m clearly thinking, and I wasn’t. I completely bypassed the time I was to have left KC and only focused on the later of the two times, the one stating what time we landed, and I planned everything around that.  It’s not the first time this has happened with something, although it’s the only time it’s happened with a flight.  The only time I’ve had to go and sit in a corner and assess what was actually happening, before I could tell the ticket agent what I wanted to do. After a few moments, still on the verge of tears, I walked back up and told her to go ahead and book me on the next flight…then I headed to the food court, just so I could find a proper chair to sit in, so I could call my friend, in hopes of having her talk me off the ledge…only problem was, it was crowded.

So although the photo looks innocent, it wasn’t.  The empty pizza box was that of someone who wouldn’t normally eat a whole CPK pizza.  The soda, is that of someone who’s trying her damndest to steer clear of soda.  And the book, was me trying to distract myself from thinking about what had transpired.  The onlookers at KCI’s Southwest food court, probably thought I was a crazy girl crying because I’d just said goodbye to some dude she wouldn’t see for sometime to come (nope, I’ve done that, while I watched them walk away…without them knowing)…I was merely a woman, morning the loss of what used to be, trying to figure out how in the hell this happened to me, how this was now potentially my new normal. It’s a tough pill to swallow, it’s hard to explain to someone that they cannot rock my world with flipping text messages, or this is what happens.  I’m trying with all of my being to do what I need to do, head down, plowing through life, and the smallest of things can completely knock me off of my axis.

For those of you who poo-poo chemo brain to something of the likes of “pregnancy brain”, it’s not the same…it’s real, it’s hard to manage, and it’s frustrating as all hell.  I can’t control when it hits me, and with what force.  Most of the time it’s because of stress and tiredness, most of the time I can manage it…most of the time I’m okay…but chemo brain, you won this past week.  You put me back in my place, reminded me I don’t have a grasp on this whole life after, and that I need to let things go and not let people have the effect that I allow for them to.  Unfortunately the drugs I was given hit the hardest when it comes to things like this…unfortunately I don’t quite have this thing all figured out.  And for those of you going through the same thing…I’m just like you.

For those of you who’ve see me the past couple of days since that and had no clue this happened…It did, I’m angry, and I’m moving on…please don’t talk to me about it.  I didn’t go back to the office because I didn’t want anyone to know…if I didn’t call to tell you about it, I don’t want to talk about it.

AND, for those of you wondering how often this gets in my way with the children…the answer is NEVER.  No matter what may be going on, I am 210% focused on what needs to be done with them, it takes all of my focus some days so we all end up in the right places, at the right times, without any disruptions.  But when it comes to Olivia and Jaxson, I NEVER FORGET, they are my FIRST PRIORITY.  Their lives have been rocked enough, I do EVERYTHING possible so they feel this whole thing is behind us, although it’s more present than any of us want to admit.

I’m not superwoman…and this superwoman, broke this past week…I’m still angry about the whole thing, although I know why it may have happened, I let myself focus on things that didn’t need my focus, I know better…now it’s back to notes, reminders and figure out a way around all of this in order to keep things like this from happening again…

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