There’s a moment in everyone’s life when the morning alarm sounds, and you smack the ‘snooze button.’ “Oh God,” we whisper, “Just five minutes more.” That very moment begins another day of weirdness. For instance, I chose to drive to work yesterday. And there’s that weird moment when a white Toyota confused me. At that moment, I lost orientation. Where am I? What am I doing? Where am I going? Why am I here at this spot? What the hell is a white Toyota out here? I couldn’t place my finger on it. Ten minutes later, my brain operated flawlessly. It was weird.

Weirdness is now a part of my life. There are days when I cannot determine what I am doing at work. I require clarification regarding my assignments, those performed, or those I have accomplished. Other times, I swipe my badge upon entering the elevator to ride to the ninth floor but fail to press ‘nine.’ And so I sit. When I get home, I get in the elevator and get angry upon not finding the card reader granting me access. Hint: there is no card swipe in my condominium. I left a cup of coffee on the shelf at work for three days. I forgot it was there. Let’s face it; cognitive problems are a bitch.

More than 70% of cancer patients have ‘cognitive problems.’ About a third of people still have such issues post-treatment. Attention, thinking, and memory problems can be more or less severe. According to my research, a whole list of shit impacts cognitive processing: cancer medications, pain medications, nausea or allergies, steroids, and others. There are also problems with fluid and electrolyte balance, infections, anemia, and organ problems. As a result, chemo patients endlessly share tips on managing the symptoms.

“Stay motivated,” one told me. “Pace yourself,” another said. Of course I pace myself. I currently have two speeds: slow and stop. “Be as helpful as possible,” said a third. So, medical students present for observation is me being helpful. Technically, I have no problem with medical students. Instead of having to reexplain my litany of woe, I photocopied ‘talking points’ and mentally say, “Here, asshole. Review this and come back later when you’ve memorized everything.” I don’t want uneducated bystanders fusing over me.

There’s an endless line of doctors these days. “Got to gather the right ‘intel.’” one stated. My doctor sends me to a hematologist. Dr. Hemo sends me to a radiologist. Dr. Rads forwards me to physical therapy. Dr. PhysEd will deliver me to a cancer surgeon. Dr. Surgeon will send me back to Dr. Hemo. And so on. Dr. Surgeon told me not to panic. After a while, pros and cons married, had children, and they were named ProCon. That means everything has a ‘pro’ and a ‘con.’

A clinician told me Dr. “Patch” Adams had shown us the incredible healing power of jokes, physical comedy, smiles, and laughter through his work. He has been an inspiration to many of us in North America. “Good for him,” I noted. “But fuck him,” I said internally. “Oh, by the way,” I blurted without thinking. “Didn’t the actor who played him in the movie kill himself?” Later, I acknowledged that the real Dr. Patch Adams was still alive. Still, the whole process is weird.

Later in the night, a fellow cancer patient I met called me. She stated one friend kept calling. Finally, growing frustrated, she called back and said, “All your phone messages about how not knowing exactly what’s going on with me has stressed you out really helped me put things in perspective.”

As I said, weird. Just weird.