The “early senility” phase

I don’t know about everyone, but for me, chemotherapy was like getting senile far ahead of my time. The effects seem to be sticking with me, too.

Early on I started to lose focus. In the past I’d been fairly high-strung, but could dive into something and stay there, which is handy if you’re coding or writing. I’ve had two jobs where I replaced (or was replaced by) two or three full-time people. At Allpar, I do a good deal of writing, all the editing, a bunch of photography, the occasional video, all the business-end work (including tax returns and my own pension), and nearly all the tech work — which, in a world of ever-changing Web technologies, is nothing to sneeze at. That includes periodically looking into current fads (AMP, Instant Pages, Apple News, etc), forum updates, some security, spam control, and content management systems. Oh, and it’s not my only job.

dave with another Valiant

With the chemotherapy, I had two or three good hours out of each day, and the rest of the time, the last thing I wanted to see was a screen. As for short-term memory, I’d lose events, hours, days — completely. Apparently, though, I could hear (or make) the same joke over and over and each time would be the first. I can imagine that being hard to live with after the novelty wore off.

Even after I was done with the chemo (I hope), its effects lingered on and on. I kept having minor memory lapses and my focus still hasn’t fully returned. Neither has full adrenal function, though that’s normal for what I was on.

With memory and focus failing, anything not written down was lost. Any time I thought of something I had to do, it needed to go onto a list or it would not get done. I did the job in front of me and that was about it; and it was best if it was a short task.

I accidentally dropped a lot of relationships, because anything not directly in front of me just disappeared (and I have to say most people were extremely understanding later, and I appreciate that). I lost a lot of mental depth, only seeing what was in front of me at the time. That’s still a problem, to a much lesser degree.

I don’t say this looking for sympathy, because I am still here, albeit fatter, slower, and easier to fatigue. I say this so you will be aware of the issues if you know you’re going on chemotherapy (each treatment is different so maybe it won’t get you the same way), or if you know someone who is, and so you can figure out how to cope. The effects aren’t always visible, but they’re still formidable, and you just have to plan around them. Hopefully, the chemo will do its job, and you’ll come out the other end and rebuild.