Home / Various and Sundry / I miss my brain.

I miss my brain.

The worst part of chemo for me has been chemo brain.  Yesterday afternoon, I went to my first IWC event this year, one of the tea/happy hours. The teas are potlucks and I made some candied almonds and pumpkin seeds using this recipe  as my base. I added an additional two cups of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and substituted cinnamon for the sugar. Unfortunately, I grabbed the directions to the hostesses house but left the candy behind. Everyone does this stuff, but I am doing it more often than not.

My understanding is that the brain fog goes away and memory returns sometime after chemo stops. I have been adding extra coconut oil to my diet and been very  diligent about my eating lately. I’ve even learned to cook fish! okay, I cooked cod and both Husband and I liked it.  My fish cooking is usually limited to shrimp scampi. Anyway, I claim that as a victory.

My writing has suffered I just can’t seem to settle down and write anything, I know you’ve noticed my lack of blogging but are too polite to say anything, thank you.

I have been busy doing other things though. I remade my IWC tee shirt which I will post about, because it came out pretty cute. I’m in the middle of a couple of other clothing refashions.

However, I do miss my brain, so far I misplaced my glasses for about a month! Finally, I found them in the sleeve of a tee at the bottom of my closet. I have no idea how that happened but I am glad to get them back. Lately, I have no idea where I put my wedding ring. Normally, I take it off and put it in the same place when I get home. It has diamonds on it, and I feel it’s unsanitary to make meatloaf with your rings on. It’s not good for the ring to wear it when you dig in the dirt or paint so I’ve gotten in the habit of not wearing it around the house. I can’t find it, I can remember putting it on, but I can’t remember taking it off or even when I last wore it. I miss my brain, a lot.

One of my more memorable chemo brain episodes is this one. When I wash my hands, I try to do it for the recommended 20 seconds and these days I seem to be always washing my hands. Is OCD a part of chemo brain? Anyway, I did all the steps, wet my hands first, soaped them up, scrubbed like Lady MacBeth and then started to dry them on the towel. As I reached for the towel, I realized that I hadn’t rinsed them off yet!  I actually stopped, looked at my hands and had to think about what was going on. Did I tell you that I miss my brain?

I’m sure I have other stories to tell you but I can’t remember them right now.



About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. speaking of which, i left a lit candle in the kitchen on friday while i went for a walk in the snow/rain with a friend who dropped by and invited me. we were out well over an hour-lucky not to have burned down the house. so what are those anti-alzheimer’s suggestions? i can’t knit or crochet.

    unfortunately, after almost 7 hours of travel, we had to give up on the monkey hotspring trip. due to avalanches , the highways, then later, the other roads, were closed. if the road had opened when it was supposed to, we would have spent another 7 hours in the car, according to our gps. hmmm -14 hours for a 5 or 6 hour trip. and that would be the 1 trip where i forgot to take my book. oh well , i enjoyed everyone’s company. most are in their 30s and 40s, i am usually the grandma aged one in the group. it was fun getting to know them better.

    take good care of yourself theresa. i hope your march chemo session won’t be too hard on you.

    teresa in sunny and windy nagoya-the only thing i don’t like about the climate here is the wind, oh add the humidity to that!!!! they make it seem so much colder than it is, ex. 43 this morning but it felt like 31.

    • Oh that is scary Teresa. We know someone who burned down her house because she left a candle lit while she went to a watch a video at a neighbor’s house. The wind blew a curtain into the candle and half her house burned down! Of course here with the houses made of cement or stone that wouldn’t happen unless the fire got really hot.


  2. Paul and I are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. Your chemo brain sounds like my regular brain, which is regular sieve, dripping information everywhere. I’m glad Nancy is here to tell you that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Take care and don’t start any fires!

    • Lee,
      It’s like having premature senility. You lose words, sometimes I use the wrong one and can’t figure out what the problem is. I was at the grocery store with Husband and he asked if we needed onions, I replied no.

      Then i stood in front of the egg display and said, “We need to buy onions”

      He said,”How many do you want?”

      “How about 18? I have stuff I want to make that uses 6.”

      “You want 18 onions? Are you sure? Eighteen? Maybe you had better pick them”

      I picked up an 18 pack of eggs and put them in the cart. Never once did I realize that he and I were saying onions instead of eggs until I put the eggs in the cart! Just weird.

      I appreciate that both of you are thinking of me.


  3. I’m with Kim, your higher order thinking is just fine, forgetting where things are placed is way down the cognitive ladder . You have the ability to look ahead, to plan, to get a game plan together, that sparkly brain is still there, it just has a bit of a buzz going on from the drug therapy-that effect will pass.

    On cooking fish: I like to cook it outside on a grill. I use a cast iron pan with the little ribs. the ribs help keep it from sticking and scorching .

    • Norm.
      That is a comforting thought, but when you can’t find words it’s really disturbing. I’m glad you all think my higher order brain functions are fine. Husband has noticed that I get confused easier these days so he is more watchful of me than he normally would be (and I am more tolerant of being baby sat than I normally would be)>

      Grilling is something else that I never learned to do. Right now, my fish cooking consists of buying frozen cod and cooking that. I need to learn to eat other fishes, I rarely ate fish growing up except fish sticks and tuna on Fridays.


      • We always had fish at home, we lived on a river and then had a small lake at our next house when I was growing up. When I was not yet school age, I had a fishing method that would be frowned upon today: a baby food jar with a hole in the lid, two tablespoons of carbide in the jar and a toss in the river. The water seeping in the hole in the lid would change the carbide into gas and boom was the result. The fish in the general area of the boom would be stunned, we would gather them up in the row boat.

        I learned to cook fish early.

        We moved to a place with a lake-the net was my friend. Our policy was to free all the breeders , eat and compost the smaller fish. We even stocked the creek with netted fish for the raccoon and mink to eat when the creek dried down to pools. The small fish passed through the net so there was always plenty of feed for the breeders.

        We ate a lot of fish.

        • WOW Norm,
          You sure did eat a lot of fish. My mom likes fish but my dad hates it. My paternal grandfather once took my father on a 6 week fishing trip. After that, my dad vowed never to eat fish again if he had a choice.

          My grandfather lived with us when I was a kid. He would eat kipper snacks, sardines and in a pinch add a can of tuna to whatever can of soup he grabbed first. Nothing to entice me there.

          I do make a mean shrimp scampi though.


  4. “Did I tell you that I miss my brain?”

    Great line. For the past few years, I have had the same syndrome (along with Nancy’s missing noun phenomenon) — all without the benefit of chemo. I rationalize by spinning arguments that my brain has more important things to do than take care of daily tasks. But then I have trouble remembering what those important tasks might be.

    • Hi Steve,
      You might want to read “Grain Brain” by David Perlmutter. Then again, you may not like his theory or rather the solution.

      Maybe the important tasks are top secret and now that you are retired you don’t have high enough clearance?



    what can i add? kim and nancy have said it all!

    luckily i didn’t need chemo with my skin cancer but my memory is horrible. i lose my glasses, wallet, keys, multiple times a day. i’ve given up looking for them, i just figure they’ll show up when i least expect them. a little while ago i was looking for a bag to put my snowhoes in as i am going to the mountains tomorrow. it’s the rolling bag for my teaching materials, which i hadn’t used since last week tuesday. there at the bottom were my wallet, lipstick-2 tubes, planner, and japanese dictionary.

    well, i guess i did have something to add. hope it brought you a smile-you’re not alone in the forgetfulness dept.

    FELIZ DIA DE LA AMISTAD de teresa en nagoya

    • Hi Teresa,
      I had a friend who used to hide money in jacket pockets, I used to wonder how she could forget that she put a twenty in her red blazer. Now I know.

      Since even without the chemo, I am prone to losing things, I have made myself get into the habit of putting my keys on the entryway table and my ring in my jewelry box. Unfortunately, I am more prone to being sidetracked than ever.

      Sometimes, I think our stuff goes into another dimension to hide and comes out somewhere other than where we put it!

      Have a great St Valentine’s day and fun in the mountains!


  6. Well, it doesn’t show in the quality of your blog posts. They are as lucid and entertaining as ever. Of course, I don’t mean to discount what you’re going through. I’m sure it must be horrific. But the writing’s still good.

    I lost my keys the other day, which I never do. Finally, I discovered them behind the radiator in the bathroom. I typically drape my pants over the radiator when I shower, and the keys fell out without my noticing. Well, I practically turned the house over before I found them. So maybe your wedding ring is in a similar kind of place. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll find it.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’re still rooting for you!

    • Thank you Kim,
      When I write I have the opportunity to edit, and I also have spell check in two languages, which is good, because I seem to have lost the ability to spell too. It helps also that I have Husband to read my posts and he is a good editor. It’s my story writing that is suffering, I can’t seem to concentrate on plots etc. Essay writing is essentially just rambling…or at least the way I do it.

      When I read that you put your pants on the radiator, that reminded me of putting my barn coat on the woodstove. I used to drape my barn coat on the woodstove for a few minutes while I got ready to go out so the inside of it would be warm. One day, I got distracted and by the time I got to my coat, well, let’s just say, it was much warmer than I needed it to be.

      I know my ring will turn up. My only fear is that it ended up in the washing machine because I stuck it in a pocket!


      • That’s a funny story about your barn coat. I grew up in a house heated by a wood stove, and we had nylon jackets too. Let’s just say that those jackets weren’t particularly forgiving of a brush up against the stove.

        By the way, one of the reasons I almost never lose my keys is because I used to be completely prone to doing so. Now I force myself to hang them on a plaque with key hooks that my mother thoughtfully got me.


        Kim G

  7. OH, honey, you said it. I just realized (my last chemo was last April 3) that I am now thinking clearly again. I can’t explain how unsettling it is to ask someone “Can you bring me a… you know one of those things you eat with…” when I couldn’t even find the word FORK. Happened multiple times a day. Chemo brain is really quite creepy but for me I think it took about 6 months to get significantly better and 8 months to be my old self. Hopefully you will improve even faster. Love your attitude and your blog, whenever you choose to write. xoxo

    • Thanks Nancy,

      Huzzah for last chemo treatments! Mine should be in March. I still have the herceptin until December but the only bad side effect from that is congestive heart failure! LOL..life is a trade-off isn’t it?

      This is the week before chemo so I am feeling more lucid plus I am doing all the things recommended for preventing ah-hem Alzheimer’s. My friend sent me an article that links knitting with avoiding senility, I’m hoping the same goes for crocheting.

      It’s worse than that moment of walking into the kitchen and not remembering why you are in there, it’s walking into the kitchen and having your brain blank out totally. It’s a wonder I haven’t set the kitchen on fire!


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