Wednesday, November 25, 2009

When am I going back to work?

That seems to be the question now that I'm done treatment. Actually, I think I am the only one asking (that's me with my high expectations I put on myself). Answer - no idea. I know I'm not ready yet. When I meet with my oncologist in mid-December I think we'll set some goals so I'll know when I am ready. They did say at the very beginning that it would likely be a year off of work, I am finally starting to realize it may take that long (or longer).

Not complaining, but just listing the things that still 'bug' me:
  • all 10 toes are numb (pins and needles feeling)
  • fingertips sometimes get that lack of feeling too (especially right baby finger)
  • right arm gets achey and tires easily
  • right underarm still sore from radiation burn
  • still a little sore where port was removed
  • fingernails have those ridges and can get brittle (but not nearly as bad as other fingernails I've seen)
  • tire easily (the couch is my friend)
  • vision and hearing are not what they were - need to get these checked out

Chemo Brain issues:
  • when speaking, can't think of the right word, or I say the completely wrong one (kids laugh a lot)
  • when writing, misspell easy words or write the wrong word (shopping lists are interesting to decipher)
  • when asked to do something, I turn around and completely forget (not only what I was supposed to do, but that I was supposed to do anything at all). Example - Brad and Zach carrying something heavy from truck to garage - I was to go inside and open the garage. La la la, I went inside and had no idea why Zach came in and asked me if I forgot to do something. No idea.
  • no ability to mulit-task (those who know me, know I used to be a very organized person who can accomplish amazing feats in a day).
  • can spend an entire day accomplishing nothing: Open mail, go to get a pen, open drawer and see address book, think of someone I needed to call, look for phone, see magazine, remember recipe I was going to copy out, look for pen, notice kids room a mess, pick up laundry to take downstairs, see boxes of christmas decorations in basement and remember I need to sort through that, wander aimlessly back upstairs, get a drink of water, notice fridge is pretty empty, need to start a grocery list, look for pen, see open mail pile, feel overwhelmed, take a nap.


  1. Oh Beth, how I love your post today. I am sitting here thinking how many of these that I have. Just about all of them especially the chemo brain. Just recently I went to the drug store for some hand wipes. I didn't want to search for them so I went up to the clerk...and I forgot what they were called...I stood there stuttering and finally said "You know those things you clean your hands with". Talk about embarrassing! I have put my cup of coffee in the fridge, things that are supposed to go in the microwave sometimes land up in the fridge and many other things.We now just laugh it off but sometimes it can be scary.
    You will know when you are ready to go back to work. For now just concentrate on getting stronger. It hasn't been that long since you finished radiation and from my experience the tiredness lasts quite awhile after.
    I am going to show my hubby your post tonight so he knows that I am not the only one who thinks chemo brain is real, lol.

  2. Jill and Beth: Amen to your posts! I can really relate to both of them, especially the chemo brain. The key, I think, is keeping your brain as active as possible. After reading a short section of a good book, I set it down and try to remember what I've just read, the details, the style the author uses, etc. I do this just to "exercise" my brain, and I think that it helps. I've heard that doing crossword puzzles and math can help, too. Making lists has been a great way to remember things and stay organized, now more than ever before. I've also found that I'm much more tired in the evenings, so I try to avoid doing anything that requires a lot of concentration then, such as paying bills, etc.

    Anyway, know that you're not alone, and I wish you many blessings. It DOES get better; it just takes a little more effort nowadays! :)

  3. Great post......I see myself
    God bless

  4. My treatment was different than yours (mine was ovarian) but I experience some of the same. It's been 4 and a half months since my last chemo and I can say that some of the issues have lessoned considerably with time, including the chemo brain and the neuropathy. I don't expect the tingling to disappear totally for a long time but it is much less now. So hang in there! Things get better!

  5. Beth
    I almost started to laugh reading your post because that is me. I wander around aimlessly forgetting what my main objective was, was it to put away laundry or do another load. My nails are a mess, my feet and joints ache terribly My hearing is definitely off because when teenagers complain it's too loud and to me sounds normal hmmm.....They keep saying time will take care of it. Monday I finally start radiation.

  6. Beth, those side effects are what I have too. I am a self employed mobile dog groomer and I am not rushing back to work for a number of reasons;
    * my arm aches if I over do things
    * my grip isnt as good as it was
    * my reflexes arent up to scratch
    * I find it hard to concentrate
    * I have a pain under my arm pit

    At the moment I am concentrating on me and getting myself fit through running, swimming and aqua jogging

  7. Yes it all sounds familiar ... I guess you'll just have to take it a bit easier now.

  8. Chemo brain. I thought that I was getting better, but the night before Thanksgiving, I was sitting there after baking bread, pies, making the waldorf salad, pistachio salad, and assembling the sweet potato casserole. I just knew I was forgetting something. It finally came to me. I nearly forgot the cranberry sauce. I went out and made the sauce. The next day, I've got potatoes boiling, and I'm assembling the vegetable dishes, and my son in law mentions the year that he forgot to make the gravy and never realized until they all were sitting around the table. I gaped at him. God bless his heart. My giblets were in the fridge. I nearly forgot to make gravy. Worst part? I HAD A LIST! I was so flipping afraid to forget something, I had a list, and still managed to nearly forget two integral parts of the meal.

  9. I agree - that was a great post. Had me grinning. It will get better ... but maybe not back to the way it was before and that's okay. Today, if I don't get things down on my calendar, I forget. I have notes and lists all over the place - but sometimes forget where I put them. I just shrug my shoulders and say, what's done is done, and move on. You just have a different set of priorities now - so a spotless house is not as important as hanging around with your loved ones.