One of my favorite side effects is chemo brain. It’s great. You can’t remember anything, so there are no worries! You won’t remember this in five minutes anyway. And words. What are those? I routinely blank out in the middle of sentences and can’t remember a word I need. It’s what I imagine it is like to have amnesia.
In all seriousness, chemo brain can be annoying at best, and debilitating at worst. But I am learning to cope, and I want to share a few hacks with you. And this is not just for those with chemo brain! I know a lot of my non-cancer friends are entering the life phase of being “forgetful”. These will work for you too!
So what am I talking about?
1. Write it down. I’m serious. Pencil and paper baby, keep it old school. Get a notebook and keep it by your side. Write everything down. EVERYTHING. You may need it to jog your memory later, or you may never look at it again. But I have found that the act of physically writing something down sometimes imbeds it in my brain so I remember it. Also, I have rediscovered penmanship. It feels so soothing to take my time writing. And I feel accomplished when I look back at the beautiful cursive. Props to my third-grade teacher (whose name I have forgotten) for drilling this skill into my mind.
Typing on your computer or phone doesn’t seem to have the same effect, so don’t bother. Pen and paper. You can get them at any store. Go.
2. Speaking of writing, get a planner. A good old-fashioned book that you actually write in. You can put things in an electronic calendar if you like, but it helps to remember it if you physically write it down. The are some great ones out there, I personally use the Law of Attraction planner. It’s so much more than just a calendar. It’s a life planner. I’ve brainstormed, set goals, and evaluated my progress. It inspires thinking and planning. And it allows me to write. It is by my side constantly, reminding me of tasks and appointments. You need this. Go now.
Freedom Mastery Law of Attraction or search on Amazon. (I have no vested interest, I just love their products. So there.)
3. Puzzles are good. They make you think, and use logic. They make you write, and we all know how I feel about that. I personally love sudoku. It’s not just thinking, it’s using numbers. It’s a workout for your brain. The more the brain is stimulated, the more it heals and stays young, or so I like to think.
(Disclaimer: I am not a scientist. I just like giving an opinion).
So pull out that pencil and do a word or number puzzle. Not an app on your phone that does all the work for you, but actual paper and pencil. You know the drill. Go.
4. Learn another language. It gives you a mental workout and challenges you to remember new things. Think of where you would go on your dream vacation, and start learning the lingo. Start with an app to help you with vocabulary (there, you can finally use your phone, does that feel better?). A nice one I like is Duolingo. Once you get more comfortable, watch shows in your new language with English subtitles (Netflix is your friend). Read books and learn about the culture. Get that brain working. It’s good for you. Why are you still reading this blog, you have studying to do! Go.
5. There was a fifth one, but I have already forgotten it. Whatever.
So there you have it. My recipe for fighting chemo brain and forgetfulness. I’m not sure if mine is better, or if I just manage it well. Either way, life is just a little bit easier. And in the end, isn’t that the idea?
For more hacks and good info, check us out at Driven to survive.