On Aging and Chemo Brain

Last night on NBC News there was a story about Chemo Brain.  It explained a lot. During Chemo I noticed that I couldn’t always get the name of a person out of my brain. Sometimes I couldn’t think of the word I needed to describe something. In part that was why I didn’t blog much-my brain just wasn’t clear enough to express my observations. I suspected that it was because of all the chemicals rolling around in my brain, and that was confirmed in the story last night.

Now I’m wondering if aging does something similar to one’s brain. The two examples that come to mind as I ask that question are John McCain and Alan Simpson.

John McCain is having trouble thinking about Susan Rice becoming our Secretary of State. His elderly, addled brain has made him say some really dumb things. The most recent was in reference to comments made by Rice on Sunday shows:

“Under what circumstances? Why was reference to al Qaeda left out? There are so many things that have happened. The interesting things finally, we knew in hours of all the details when we got Bin Laden, they making a movie out of it and we are ten weeks later and finally our ambassador to the united nations who appeared on every national Sunday show is now saying that she gave false information concerning how this tragedy happened as far as the spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video.”

So, an elderly, addled brain can’t figure out that 1) we planned the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, so we knew a lot about it from the very beginning; 2) the attack on our embassy was planned by someone else, it happened in the dark, so we needed to investigate before we knew what actually happened.  Of course, Rachel Maddow has an alternative theory about McCain. Her theory is that the GOP wants one more seat in the Senate, and if John Kerry were appointed Secretary of State, his Senate seat would be open and filled by the governor until an election was held. The Democratic governor would presumably appoint another Democrat, but recently defeated Scott Brown could run in the mandated special election and win that seat back for the GOP. I don’t believe that Maddow has had chemo-therapy recently, nor is she old enough to have an elderly, addled brain, although she is fond of cocktails.

Alan Simpson’s elderly, addled brain has taken a more sinister approach to governing. In the days following the recent election, many GOP legislators have broken up with Grover Norquist by saying that they will violate their pledge to not raise taxes. Simpson went further:

“So how do you deal with someone who comes to stop government? … Grover wandering the earth in his white robe saying he wants to drown government in the bathtub. I hope he slips in there with it.”

Simpson went on to say that the reason it is called the Simpson Bowles plan is because the acronym if it were reversed is a bit racy.

Of course there may be another explanation for an elderly, addled brain. With age comes a new found freedom to say what one actually thinks without concern for how the comments may be received. Alan Simpson created quite a stir when he spoke at CMU in February of this year. Quotes from a Gary Harmon Story at the Sentinel from that time:

“We legalized alcohol and now we have 12 million alcoholics.” “These young people will be sucking canal water when they’re 65.” “[Abortion is] an intimate and deeply personal decision. I don’t think men legislators should even vote on it.” “You’re on the cover of Time one week and six months later you’re doing it.”  Refering to Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh: “They’re entertainers and you just swallow that stuff. They just bitch, bitch, bitch.” “I know Newt and Santorum. Those guys creep me out,” “[The media] initiates conflict, confusion and controversy, but not clarity.” “Everything I’ve done is called lightning hitting the outhouse.” “We should treat ourselves with a lighter touch. We should speak well of a pretty damn fine experiment which is called “America.” “God bless you and go forth and multiply.”

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. raymond1 says:

    … he always sounded kind of like this — blunt and insulting, and fond of odd metaphors and images that sometimes made sense only to him. I’m not sure whether I’m being charitable or critical of Simpson in noting that he doesn’t sound that different from how he always did; the only difference is that he’s freer to list members of his own party (Gingrich, Santorum, etc.) as among those who “creep him out.”

  2. Gray in Mountains says:

    I do agree with Raymond that this is just Alan Simpson with a better brain to begin with and one that is constantly being used is more likely to thrive.

    Did not see the show (I’m away for a bit). But, I once had to have some testing that left some chemicals in my brain (inadvertent medical error). Until those chemicals were absorbed, about 2 weeks, my thinking was affected. Initially I attributed that to the anxiety I felt due to the chemical insult to my neurology. Later I learned that, especially because these chemicals were something my brain hsad never before encountered, they were having a profound impact at least partly just by their presence. In other words, any substance really rare to my neurology may well have provided this type of insult and therefore caused my ‘addling’.

  3. parsingreality says:

    But seriously, there’s a whole new line of investigation about glucose not being able to enter the brain’s cells as easily as when we were young.  It’s being called Type III diabetes.

    The workaround may be ketones which can come from MCT oil or coconut oil (mostly MCT’s).  I incorporate as much MCT oil as I can into my diet.  While I can’t say I now remember what I had for breakfast on November 15th, 1959, there is definitely a psycho-active effect.  

    See: http://www.bing.com/search?q=a

    My dreams! Wow! Very intense and I mostly remember them the next day.  Never even had that when I was a kid.  

  4. MADCO says:

    Oh, I remember ….no, not really.

  5. cuppajoe says:

    Yes, Konola, you may have suffered a bit of chemo brain, but even during that period, your brain still functioned at a much higher level, more accurate, etc. than a good portion of those who live in Mesa County.  Keep improving, keep writing.  I personally enjoy your factual, personal presentations and thoughts.

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