Thanks to some of my cancer survivor friends, I recently discovered that Wikipedia has an entry for “Chemo brain.” (The link is here.) They call it “Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment,” but I think the simpler label works better.) So far as I can tell, it’s totally true: these drugs seem to have roughly the same effect on mental acuity as repeated viewings of “Legally Blonde.” I can feel the I.Q. points departing, perhaps never to return. And I didn’t have that many to spare.
I know that a lot of interesting work is being done these days on links between mind and body. I’d love to understand those links better. One thing is clear: when your body takes hard shots, your mind suffers. A pain researcher once told me that chronic pain patients’ minds age much faster than the population at large; fighting off the pain uses up mental energy, and not all of that energy gets replaced. So too with fighting off cancer cells, I suspect. Thankfully, I’m not a mathematician—I’d already be far too dumb to do the job. Legal academics is a more forgiving line of work, and these days, forgiving lines of work sound pretty good to me.