Sunday, 31 July 2011

Number Thirty Six: The Fug

This morning was the first time I woke up with ideas swimming around in my tiny brain… the first wake up in ages where I felt like writing.
Before this whole thing happened; if anyone asked me if I liked writing I’d have laughed (and spat out my drink) ‘No!’ Whilst a student, I spent four years of my life trying to avoid writing essays (not the way to earn a degree it turns out!) and when I had to write I always calculated the exact minimum amount of words needed to scrape by. (Can’t understand why I didn’t get a 1st really!) But now, it turns out that I can enjoy writing- in fact it’s the first sign after treatment that I’m creeping back towards being my normal self.
Some of the chemotherapy side affects are well known (nausea) and others are obvious (hair loss) but there’s a secret symptom that you really didn’t know about before… the fug. The fug stops you being able to think, remember, understand and even read! Yep, the other day my husband laughed at my attempts to read a picture book to my 3 year old- I did sound like the ‘Slow Readers Group’ poem from ‘Please Mrs Butler’. I am also rendered utterly useless when trying to follow a film plot. We have to keep pausing for Rob to explain- I don’t even have to ask anymore- he just periodically pauses when he thinks something slightly complicated might have just passed me by. Maybe it’s my glazed expression?
This fug just seems to interfere with your ability to concentrate meaning I can happily spend hours gazing into space. I’ll have a book or magazine in the vicinity but I won’t be looking right at it!
I’ve said before that many of the symptoms of this treatment are similar to pregnancy- extreme pregnancy and then some! Sickness, heartburn, aching, constipation and yep- baby brain!
I’m recovering from the fifth of six cycles of chemotherapy… the end is right there- within a fortnight it’ll be done and I’ll be recovering for the last time! I was incredibly blasé about this before I started. I remember my mum breezing through her treatment (we both agree now we remembered that time with incredibly rose tinted glasses) and I just thought ‘I’m young and healthy, I’ll be fine- chemo won’t touch me!’ Hilariously I still think to myself, ‘I’m not an ill person.’ I still associate being an ill person with being a lazy, work shy skiver! This does not help with the feelings of guilt, ‘I should be at work, I should tidy up, I should really do the boys’ bathtime myself tonight.’ And I’m realising that you actively need to rest and recuperate not plough on as normal. Difficult when you feel like you’re always missing out! So I should have respected chemo from the start- I should have known it’d knock me for six and I should have realised that taking time out to recover would have made the recovery all the more effective! In short it’s just been way harder than I’d hoped. A horrid experience I’d not wish on my worst enemy (you know who you are!) Each time it has got harder, my positivity is being chipped away at, my resilience is worn and my ability to fight has really been drained to the final dregs. I know this because at the ‘Race for Life’ I saw one of those pink squares on a girl’s back and it said… ‘In celebration of Myself- I’ve beaten it… twice.’ The thought of it coming back and doing this all over again makes me instantly burst into tears. It’s just too hard.
During the week following treatment you feel so awful and it really is difficult to imagine feeling well again. It can actually take you by surprise when the day arrives that you don’t feel like rolling over and covering your head with the duvet. For me, waking with the enthusiasm to ‘blog’ is a really good sign! The fug is lifting!


  1. Erin, don't fret, this is the absolute hardest bit, it's at it's cumulative worst, the bottom of the barrel. But guess what, you are so close to the end now, just a week or so after your last treatment, you will begin to rise....and keep rising. I am not 3 months on from chemo and as strange as it sounds, it's already feels forever ago, even memories of my bald head are a bit fuzzy! I'm glad you took up writing, you have a really bright spirit and it's still shining through even at your lowest ebb. I am here cheering for you :) Yvette x

  2. So glad you're back honey, I've missed you! You've done amazingly well & even in your darkest moments your personality shines through. Lotsa Love Chica, you're fab. Love Chez. xx

  3. Oh I recognise the feeling.. The fug is a great word for it.. Glad your starting to feel better xxx

  4. Really enjoyed this Erin. I know it is a million times worse but if it helps, the fug comes to us all at times. I'm a very good sufferer of it & find it really hard to kick start myself sometimes.
    Only one more lot to go! What a party you'll have!xx

  5. Glad your back! Stay strong, your almost at the end of this nasty roller coaster ride. One more to go, and you won't have to go through it again! Even coming out of a fug, your positivity (is that a word??) comes through.

  6. Although I've never had the experience personally, I've seen many people who approach chemo with this positive swagger and an "I'll be ok" outlook... personally, I think it's the best approach - it gets you some of the way in before it starts to test your inner strength. Much better that than to start out with an overwhelming sense of alarm...

    I certainly know people who have lived through various cancers who swear that if they'd realised what the treatment was like, the probably wouldn't have put themselves through it. Although I think that's not necessarily true, there seems to be some mileage in being super-positive to the point of almost being blasé about it!

    I hope you realise that you're quite the hero (whether or not you feel like one) - so keep up this great inspiration!