Pockets of Cheese

I bet you’d be super-surprised to hear that I’m a list maker. There are post-its all over the place here covered with chicken scratches about raisins and plant sales and the broken Dustbuster (Maybe I should make that D*stbuster so the search engines don’t find it.) I make notes about blog posts and new stories and dried fruit. Then I transfer these little notes to the bigger corresponding lists – grocery, blog, household.

The other day I found a note that said ‘pockets.’ I have no idea what I meant.  Did I mean pockets or maybe packets or pictures or printers or pintos and windows and leantos and tacos or maybe a pingback or a wingback and cheese, of course, I must have meant cheese. Doesn’t it always come back to cheese? I was supposed to fill my pockets with cheese.

Just like Paul believes that rubber chickens are inherently funny, I think anything that has to do with a block of cheese is funny. Try working a block of cheese into a story; it makes it funnier, doesn’t it? So when I saw this SNL skit about the closet organizer, I’m sure you can imagine my delight.

Anyway, my point is this: I have a hard time remembering things. Also: blocks of cheese are funny.

But you see I have a good excuse. Chemo brain. For reals.

The American Cancer Society classifies chemo brain as including memory lapses, trouble concentrating/focusing. Trouble remembering names and details, trouble multi-tasking, and trouble finishing a sentence. Brains of cancer patients have been monitored and studies found that certain parts of the brain that deal with memory, planning, putting thoughts to action, monitoring thought processes and behavior and inhibition (pretty much everything) show up as smaller after chemo. These changes are still seen on scans five to ten years after treatment.

They recommend making lists and keeping a wall calendar to help keep your memory strong but those things don’t always help. Sometimes I completely lose a word or thought. One of my friends described it as going to the file in your brain that holds that word, opening it and finding it empty. Saucer! That little dish that holds a cup is indeed a saucer.

My memory has not been the same since chemo, but now I have a hard time determining if my lapses are the result of chemo brain, sleep deprivation, or mommy brain. It’s impossible to untangle them. As a friend says, sleep deprivation is key to the mommy experience. Does the well-rested parent exist?

Web MD claims that pregnancy brain and mommy brain subside after the first few years. Is that because children usually start sleeping longer? Is it because pregnancy hormones have leveled out by then? Do adoptive mommies get mommy brain? Clearly, I have a lot of questions and a lot to say on this topic so I’m going to continue to explore these ideas, if I can remember them, in a memory mini-series. I recommend you read it while gnawing on a block of cheese.

9 thoughts on “Pockets of Cheese

  1. Mom

    Cheese blocks…could they be genetic? We have at least 4 blocks of cheese in the fridge right now. Plus the wedges, round things, and string cheese. And we have been home for two days. (Round things? Now what is the word for little round, expensive packages of cheese?)

    And the brain? When do you turn 40? You failed to mention age related lapses. Or, just too full a brain? I prefer to think that I can’t find brain items because it is too full of misc. useful facts. Mom

  2. Barb

    Too funny. I was just talking about this today. My memory went out the door with 40 but it got even worse with mommyhood. I can’t untangle which is which. I remember Pam telling me that when you first start losing your short term memory it freaks you out, but by the time you are 40 you just accept it as the new normal and it’s not so frightening. My 30ish mommy friends think my lists are crazy and ridiculous. My 40ish mommies all understand.

  3. Tami

    cheese. funny.

    also, I’ve been meaning to tell you but I keep forgetting…
    Raena’s latest gag… “Gilly…” “Sorry.”
    It’s pretty spot on, considering she’s only heard us do the bit, never actually seen it.

    Also, since having children I have no capacity to form sentences most of the time. I used to know so many words. Now, I never seem to have the one I’m looking for. sigh.

  4. Jenn

    I’m with you Tami on the forming of sentences but I’m taking it a little further to say that since I’ve had kids it is REALLY hard for me to hold a conversation. Not just when the kids are under foot (that is obviously difficult) but even when I am at girl’s night or date night or work. Having a long, in-depth conversation is harder than it used to be! I think I’m out of practice. Then when I do get a chance to have a real conversation I have too much to say and can’t get it out in a reasonable way. I even teach how to have appropriate conversations as part of my work… oh well. Hopefully it will come back to me….someday.

  5. Danielle

    I can’t have a conversation with an adult to save my life!!!! Do you think Mommybrain has anything to do with not only sleep deprivation, brain chemistry, or whatever but also the fact that we are speaking to toddlers most of the day???? I know I find myself having to restrain from saying things like “What do you say??” (thank you or sorry being appropriate responses) to his father! I actually told a girlfriend of mine having troubles with her boyfriend.”Thats not nice, we don’t do…” and stopped there when I caught her looking at me with the “are you crazy” look..
    I had “mommy brain” and turning 40 happen at the same time (baby @38)and it doesnt seem to be subsiding. I have actually noticed it getting worse! Yesterday I walked into the bedroom to grab a diaper 3x and forgot each time why I was going into the room. I then was supposed to call my mom and didn’t remember until writting this just now. When he was a newborn, I actually functioned better. I was one of the few rested moms, thank you thank you Aiden! Oh well, he is going to be a lucky kid, by the time he is a teen I will be forgetting everything and will probably forget that I have grounded him for something.
    One last thing…..
    I would LOVE to see that….one of my favorite bits…..

  6. Katherine Post author

    Such a good point! When you spend your days saying things like “big girls don’t eat dog food” and building countless towers made of blocks, it’s no surprise we can’t remember what adults say.

    PS – Did you mean you’d love to see Gilley in the blog? Did you see this onehttp://katherinemalmo.com/blog/2010/02/05/just-kidding/ ? Or did you mean you’d love to see it on SNL?

  7. Mnemosyne

    Love your site!!! Great article. Wait until you all get seventy. Memory? I know I used to know what that was and now I can’t remember.

    But, remember list is what a ship does just before it sinks.

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