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The small words are so light, they just float upwards and disappear into the fog


by Catherine Petit


Chemo Brain, or brain fog, can be daunting, frustrating, and downright irritating, but I have decided it is enlightening and delightful.

While in my brother´s office, we were having a discussion on awards and certificates. I was trying to say how a person had been so angry that they had taken down all the framed–  and removed them to be mailed without the frames. After standing in total silence for what seemed to be minutes, I pointed to the walls, lost for the word,  and my brother said certificates, finishing my sentence.

I had thought of saying balloons just to finish the sentence and with this thought, I decided the next time I was lost for a word, I would insert a substitute word to take away my frustration and have a little fun.

Operculicarya decaryi. Or simply put, Elephant tree!

Sometimes the simplest of words elude me, so I decided to “invent” new words and let others wonder, “What on earth is she talking about?” It puts the shoe on the other foot, per se.

Big or large words, no problem. For instance, I have a bonsai tree in my garden. I cannot remember Elephant Tree, but Operculicarya decaryi springs right to the front of my mind…over and over.

Announcement in front of a restaurant about not serving beef infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

One of my next big brain fogs occurred when a good friend who is super intelligent and I were having a discussion on prions and how they work. After a bit, we started talking about the diseases prions cause. Unfortunately, the small words were evading me again. I said one of the biggest diseases caused by prions is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. It came out easily, and my friend burst into laughter. When he caught his breath, he finally asked,” Why didn´t you just say Mad Cow?”

I simply said brain fog. The small words are so light, they just float upwards and disappear into the fog.


Featured image/Igor Oliyarnik, Unsplash
Quote mark/Oakus 53, CC BY.SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Operculicarya decaryi (Elephant tree)/Dryas, CC BY-SA3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy announcement/Lodick Family, CC BY2.0 via Flickr. Cropped.