Thursday, April 10, 2014

Just like kids

Something startling happened the other day.
The sun came up.
The birds sang.
The grass turned green.
The flowers bloomed.
And spring sprung, just like that.
Well, maybe the wondrous transformation from the last stubborn days of winter to the first festive breaths of spring has been a little less instantaneous than all that.
But, by golly, it's happening.
It's happening now.
We've had a great time hanging out with our youngest grandsons in the big old house on the park.  As those final days of winter began to slowly unwind,  they were quick to learn just how great it is to live right across the street from playgrounds, a ball field, basketball courts and a seemingly endless field of greener-by-the-day grass, bushes and trees.
And then there's the kids.
And that's the biggest deal of all.
Our grandboys have always lived out in the country, so the idea of an in-town, residential neighborhood jam-packed with ready playmates is all new to them.
Until now.
Suddenly, they have the sweet freedom to go and do and run and play and have fun.
Just like kids. With other kids.
Doesn't get any better than that.
"Your columns seem a little shorter than they used to be."
I've had a couple of folks tell me this recently, and I'm pretty sure they're right. But, I think I've got a darn good excuse.
Or at least it's kind of interesting.
It's a well-known condition experienced by cancer patients that includes a whole host of enviable symptoms:
• Difficulty concentrating on a single task
• Problems with short-term memory
• Forgetting details of recent events
• Feeling mentally “slower” than usual
• Confusing dates and appointments
• Misplacing objects
• Fumbling for the right word or phrase
Now, if these all sound a trifle familiar, they should, for some of us, at least. But instead of being forced to chalk it up to "life" or "age" or some other convenient excuse, I've got an actual scientific condition to blame it on.
It's a real term used to describe thinking and memory problems that can occur after cancer treatment. It can be called chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment or cognitive dysfunction.  But the best name I've heard for the condition is my favorite, because it gets right down to the point.
Chemo Brain.
Heck, it could have been my nickname in high school.
Speaking of chemo and kids, my last trip to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago included an ample helping of both. With my normal Wednesday-afternoon appointment changed to Friday morning because of scheduling difficulties, we brought along the grandsons, who were out of school due to parent-teacher conferences. Suffice it to say, the presence of an eight-year-old and his six-year-old brother changed the entire scope of the visit, starting with a Thursday-night arrival and a visit to the Lego store at Water Tower Place, which is just up the street from the hospital and the hotel where we sleep when we need to stay over.  The grandma-lady also forced the recalcitrant duo to step into the dreaded American Girl store, though they were quick to dash back out into the hall, gasping for breath and mercy. The evening capped off with dinner at an entirely kid-centric bistro called the Rain Forest Cafe, where animatronic monkeys, snakes, leopards and gorillas stared at me all night, while fake thunder rumbled through the faux-jungle.
I draw the line at making my favorite little boys watch me sit through a slow six-hour chemo drip, so the next day, the boys got to meet the nice people at the 21st-floor cancer center at Northwestern before leaving for the Field Museum and its bountiful bevy of dinosaurs and other great exhibits.
Just like kids.

1 comment:

  1. John - your brain is fantastic, chemo or not. Thanks for sharing all these observations and thoughts. I suspect those two little guys are good medicine for both you and the grandma lady.