Lately I have been re-noticing that I am still losing track of things/people/tasks. Time is pretty variable these days. As I have always been shall we say “time challenged” this isn’t exactly new. However as certain aspects of my chemo-brain continue to heal, namely spacial perception, it makes the other ways my brain has been changed far more noticeable, and I can’t help but wonder if these changes are,
- A) permanent
- B) still in process of rebooting (AKA healing)
- C) a consequence/side effect of Tamoxifen.
Sooner or later most people experience loosing track of things. Memories are strange phenomena. How is it that certain things stick, while others slip away? What did I do for my birthday last year? Did I send that letter yet? When I see a face that seems familiar, is it someone who I actually know? Ought I remember a name to go with that face? I find that certain things sort of slide straight through my consciousness. When I “meet” someone for the second or third time, in their experience, I joke that someone took a big squeegee to my brain, and that it just isn’t as sticky as it once was. I sometimes introduce myself with a disclaimer- “If I don’t remember you the next time we meet, please don’t take it personally.”
But I take it personally. My life has become a bit slippery – time is not tracking as it once did, and I don’t seem to be putting things into either short or longterm storage quite so well these days. Ideas whisk in and then keep on flying.
Ideas, too many,
crowd the aviary
of my mind
This fragment of a poem I wrote when I was 20- describing the “kaleidoscope of feathers” that filled my mind- so many ideas, rushing in, swirling around – flying in a world of infinite possibilities. It was sometimes overwhelming, but I didn’t have trouble keeping track of it all. I remembered the birthdays of most people I knew. And I could tell you on what day pretty much anything happened. I met Joe on February 19, 1995. Though I was invariable late to nearly everything, I at least had a handle on the timeline of my life. And the many ideas of things I wanted to make and do or write could be counted on to keep flying around in my mental aviary until I gave them the focused attention needed to manifest them.
What strategy is needed to address this is completely dependent on why it is happening. We are learning so much about the brain, and its capacity to recover from all kinds of things. But if my current fogginess is related to the ongoing use of the drug tamoxifen, what does that mean? I recently started taking a homeopathic given me by Dr. Fruehauf to help mitigate the side effects of tamoxifen – perhaps that will start to improve things.
We all age in different ways, some remain “sharp” until they die at 104, others of us start to slide into situation of mental diminishing returns in our 50s. How we expect we will age is a pretty big contributing factor in how we will progress. Beware the self fulfilling prophecies we create for ourselves.
When my mind was quicker I created a life that was bursting at the seams, trying to keep up with my mental flock. Now I am no longer able to mind all the ideas, and am in the process of redefining my life. I walk through my studio, and think “Oh yeah, I wanted to make X.” then I look at my full weekend and there is no room for it. Trying to fit more than is possible in the time I have available has perhaps always been a pathological flaw within me. What is different now is the way that the items in my cue are erased.
Added to this is the vague sense of déjà vu that stalks me. A confusion, “Did I do that already?” Is time circular? Or are the infinite time-space continuums something that the squeegee process is giving me access to now? Or Have I been watching too much Star Trek and X Files?
I don’t wish to create worry – honestly though this is noticeable for me, I am guessing I could still “pass” an IQ test. Nor do I believe I am suffering from dementia. But It seems that I need to slow down more. Give myself the luxury of doing nothing. In the words I recently said to my friend Betsy, “I really relish putzing around my house these days.” My life is on a different timeline, one in which my flock of ideas is a bit smaller. Perhaps if I let go of the distraction of needing to contain all my ideas I will have more room in my head for the people I meet. Perhaps if I slow down and apply more mindfulness I will make new sticky grooves in my neurons to capture the life that is slipping by.
As per usual I will continue to presume that I am still healing until proven otherwise.