Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Aging Brain.....Chemo Brain and Menopause

Because I have been feeling so good, I've been keeping extra busy.  I have been feeling a little tired and just kept charging forward with all my social activities, work responsibilities and family responsibilities.  I'm not complaining at all because I'm very happy that I'm healthy and able to do all this.  I forgot to mention in my last post that I spend a wonderful evening with my husband and friends at the end of February.  We went to a local German restaurant for a leisurely dinner and then off to the local large entertainment venue to watch a Chicago concert.  You know, the group from the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and even now.  They are continuing to write new music.  It was wonderful to see the real wind instruments and they put on an amazing show.  But I know that my body is telling me to stop, slow down and recharge.  I've ignored the tiredness up to now.  But now my brain is reminding me that I need to listen to the body.

One night earlier this week, I asked my husband "Did you put out the lunch?".  That wasn't what I was thinking and as soon as it came out of my mouth I knew that wasn't what I wanted to say.  I had to stop and think.  Then I said "I mean did you put out the garbage?"  You see it was our garbage collection the next day.  I know that I am adjusting to my new reality because if this had happened 6 months ago, I would have been panicking and thinking it was chemo brain.  All it is menopause combined with tiredness.  My husband and I can laugh about these little instances now.  It still bothers me especially when I can't think of the correct word that I'm wanting to use.  That same day earlier this week, I was teaching piano and I wanted to draw my student's attention to the staccato markings in the music.  She is still just learning how to play a light staccato and doesn't always remember the term "staccato".  So there I was sitting in the chair and I pointed to the music and said "Don't forget to play the butter tarts."  Immediately, I knew that wasn't right and I wondered where on earth did that come from!!.  I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn't remember the word!  My student just looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I apologized and indicated that I was tired and we had a good laugh.  Then I continued on with saying "Don't forget to play the staccato".  I reviewed with her the term and as she continued with the giggles (butter tarts?!!  Sheesh!!!) as she practised playing a light staccato.

This morning this happened again.  I was playing piano duets and I couldn't remember the term "fingerboard" which refers to a part of the wood portion of the piano at the back of the keys.  Thanks goodness I was playing with a good friend.  I just substituted the word "wood part" and pointed.  She graciously gave me the word I was looking for.  We again had a good laugh as this is all part of menopause (or mental pause as good friends refer to it).

Generally, my brain is working well.  My new reality is that I can't multi-task well anymore.  I can't do things and talk to people at the same time.  So I'm adjusting and just do one thing at a time.  As my son so nicely said "You are just down at everyone else's level now, Mom."  He has said this when I get frustrated because my memory is not a sharp and I mentally can't keep track of things as well.  I have to refer to this as my new reality and accept it.

With March Break occurring this week, I will have a reduced teaching schedule which is probably good considering that my brain is reminding me to slow down.  So Happy March Break everyone.  Let's hope that Spring will arrive soon.  Two years ago at this time, the weather was so warm that I was able to sit on the patio and listen to the birds.  Now I still have 2 feet of snow on the patio and there are still mountains of snow banks.  The warmth of the sun is still enjoyable though.


  1. Catching up on your blog, Cathy! This post made me laugh because I've been the same way lately. I'm in the perimenopause stage, and have been experiencing quite a few symptoms that come with it, including the drastic and unpleasant temperature fluctuations...inside my body! There are moments when I heat up and feel like I'm in a sauna, and then my body temperature dives and I get so chilled I grab for a sweater. Oh the joys of aging!

    You went to see Chicago? How wonderful! And how amazing that they're still around.

    1. Oh the joys of those temperature changes!! I just have to stand in the snow and it will melt puddles around me! Ha, ha! Don't you just like how your mind seems to have more crossed wires every year?! About Chicago...they were amazing! I couldn't believe the energy they still had and they obviously were having fun up on stage. The trombone player is the original and just didn't stop dancing and moving! It was a great night.