Chemotherapy Fog Is No Longer Ignored as Illusion

“Chemo brain is part of the language now… [A]ttitudes are changing as a result of a flurry of research and new attention to the after-effects of life-saving treatment. There is now widespread acknowledgment that patients with cognitive symptoms are not imagining things, and a growing number of oncologists are rushing to offer remedies, including stimulants commonly used for attention-deficit disorder and acupuncture.

…Virtually all cancer survivors who have had toxic treatments like chemotherapy experience short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating during and shortly afterward, experts say. But a vast majority improve. About 15 percent, or roughly 360,000 of the nation’s 2.4 million female breast cancer survivors, the group that has dominated research on cognitive side effects, remain distracted years later, according to some experts. And nobody knows what distinguishes this 15 percent.

… The central puzzle of chemo brain is that many of the symptoms can occur for reasons other than chemotherapy.

Abrupt menopause, which often follows treatment, also leaves many women fuzzy-headed in a more extreme way than natural menopause, which unfolds slowly. Those cognitive issues are also features of depression and anxiety, which often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Similar effects are also caused by medications for nausea and pain.

…’So many factors affect cognitive function, and the kinds of cognitive problems associated with cancer treatment can be caused by many other things than chemotherapy…’ ” (New York Times )

Paradoxical Undressing and Hide-and-Die Syndrome

Sources of Very Obscure Death Scenes in Lethal Hypothermia (abstract): “Hypothermia is a relatively rare cause of death in temperate climate zones. In most cases of lethal hypothermia, elderly and mentally ill persons are affected as well as persons under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Although most cases of death from hypothermia are accidental, they, more often than other types of death from environmental conditions, produce a death scene that is at first obscure and difficult to interpret. The reason for this frequent obscurity is mainly because of the phenomenon of the so-called paradoxical undressing as well as the hide-and-die syndrome. In many cases, the bodies are found partly or completely unclothed and abrasions and hematomas are found on the knees, elbows, feet, and hands. The reason for the paradoxical undressing is not yet clearly understood. There are two main theories discussed: one theory proposes that the reflex vasoconstriction, which happens in the first stage of hypothermia, leads to paralysis of the vasomotor center thus giving rise to the sensation that the body temperature is higher than it really is, and, in a paradoxical reaction, the person undresses. The other theory says that it seems to be the effect of a cold-induced paralysis of the nerves in the vessel walls that leads to a vasodilatation giving an absurd feeling of heat. In 20% of cases of lethal hypothermia, the phenomenon of the so-called hide-and-die syndrome also can be observed. Some of these bodies are situated in a kind of “hidden position,” for example, located under a bed or behind a wardrobe. Apparently, this finding is the result of a terminal primitive reaction pattern, which is probably an autonomous behavior triggered and controlled by the brain stem. It shows the characteristics of both an instinctive behavior and a congenital reflex.” (Forensic Pathology Reviews)

A Medline search on ‘paradoxical undressing’ leads to one citation from a 1979 Swedish paper.

Chemotherapy Fog Is No Longer Ignored as Illusion

“Chemo brain is part of the language now… [A]ttitudes are changing as a result of a flurry of research and new attention to the after-effects of life-saving treatment. There is now widespread acknowledgment that patients with cognitive symptoms are not imagining things, and a growing number of oncologists are rushing to offer remedies, including stimulants commonly used for attention-deficit disorder and acupuncture.

…Virtually all cancer survivors who have had toxic treatments like chemotherapy experience short-term memory loss and difficulty concentrating during and shortly afterward, experts say. But a vast majority improve. About 15 percent, or roughly 360,000 of the nation’s 2.4 million female breast cancer survivors, the group that has dominated research on cognitive side effects, remain distracted years later, according to some experts. And nobody knows what distinguishes this 15 percent.

… The central puzzle of chemo brain is that many of the symptoms can occur for reasons other than chemotherapy.

Abrupt menopause, which often follows treatment, also leaves many women fuzzy-headed in a more extreme way than natural menopause, which unfolds slowly. Those cognitive issues are also features of depression and anxiety, which often accompany a cancer diagnosis. Similar effects are also caused by medications for nausea and pain.

…’So many factors affect cognitive function, and the kinds of cognitive problems associated with cancer treatment can be caused by many other things than chemotherapy…’ ” (New York Times )

Into A Shadowy World

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“The director Robinson Devor apparently would like viewers who watch his heavily reconstructed documentary, Zoo, to see it as a story of ineluctable desire and human dignity. Shot on Super 16-millimeter film, with many scenes steeped in a blue that would have made Yves Klein envious, Zoo is, to a large extent, about the rhetorical uses of beauty and metaphor and of certain filmmaking techniques like slow-motion photography. It is, rather more coyly, also about a man who died from a perforated colon after he arranged to have sex with a stallion.” (New York Times )

Putin to Suspend Pact With NATO

“President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday that Russia would suspend its compliance with a treaty on conventional arms in Europe that was forged at the end of the cold war, opening a fresh and intense dispute in the souring relations between NATO and the Kremlin.

The announcement …underscored the Kremlin’s anger at the United States for proposing a new missile defense system in Europe, which the Bush administration insists is meant to counter potential threats from North Korea and Iran.” (New York Times )

I would quibble with the Times calling this an issue between NATO and Russia. It seems to me that Putin’s enmity, and the responsibility for potentially restarting the Cold War, should be laid squarely at the feet of our national-embarrassment-in-chief in Washington. This may well prove to be one of the most enduring facets of the Bush legacy, along with the destruction of Iraq, the squandering of most of the international community’s goodwill toward the US, the sabotaging of a consensus against climate change, irreparable domestic polarization, and the visitation of the burdens of his fiscal irresponsibility on a generation to come in the US. Am I forgetting anything?