(Grey) Matters Over Mind

Yesterday was Brain Tumor Awareness Day.  I advertised out the wazoo to everyone on Facebook that they were supposed to wear gray yesterday to support brain tumor survivors.  Luckily brains work in mysterious ways.  It wasn’t until yesterday night at 9pm when I was putting on my PJ’s to go to bed that  noticed I had actually worn gray all day.  Gray shirt and gray shorts.  Yay ME!  Actually … Yay subconscious!

See originally I had not selected gray clothing for the day.  At 545 am when I was walking out the door to go to work Teagan decided to celebrate Brain Tumor Awareness Day by reliving actually having a brain tumor and throwing up.  Okay maybe she was reliving chemo as she typically threw up between 545 and 645 am.  Either way with both parents due to work yesterday we were in a pickle.  Luckily I was able to convince (and probably owe several Big Apple Bagels to) a coworker to stay over until 10am when there would be full staffing and I went back home.

With Teagan tucked safely in bed with water and The Fairly Oddparents and Dawson heading out the door to the bus I realized I was still in my work clothes and decided to throw on shorts and a T-shirt.  And for whatever reason (more than likely the top shirt in the laundry basket) I picked a gray shirt – then actually matched with gray shorts.  All hail the power of the subconscious mind.

I’m an intrigued with the brain.  I have been (for obvious reasons) since 2007.  Although I cannot recite all of the parts of the brain or even begin to describe their infinite amount of functions I am still amazed by what brains do on a daily basis.  I am still in awe of Teagan’s neurosurgeon.  Not in awe like the “McDreamy” stuff on Gray’s Anatomy but just amazed – what type of confidence in yourself do you must have to open up someone’s skull and cut out tumors?  I read a book about a year after Teagan’s second surgery written by a female neurosurgeon as she finished her last year of residency.  As rare as neurosurgeons are in general there are only 200 or so women who claim the title.  I sped read the book and all its gory and glamorous details.  She describes the brain as having the feel and texture of tofu.  She describes what it’s like to drill through someone’s skull knowing that you have to stop at the right spot or you start drilling into brain.  Based on my recent construction work on our deck out back and my inability to stop the drill once it really gets going I’d say I would make a lousy brain surgeon.

My favorite part of her book is where she describes brain tumors.  After explaining that there isn’t any certain chemical or cell phone or bad habit or any other sin that causes them she sums it up by saying In short, a brain tumor is the fault of no person or thing.  As with a deadly hurricane, nature is often both powerful and indifferent.”  My daughters golf ball sized “hurricane” is sitting in a jar of formaldehyde on some shelf at John Hopkins university.  And I can say that “hurricane” accurately describes the last 5 years of our lives.  And just like the indiscriminate hurricane that levels one home and the one next door remains standing – the difference between fatal and survivable in a brain tumor is as small of a margin as .1 cm.  We were of the lucky latter group allowed to remain standing unlike so many other children and adults every year.

So as for Brain Tumor Awareness Day 2012 I can at least say I wore gray — thanks to the tofu in between my ears.  One day maybe I will not feel like a Who screaming at the top of my lungs so someone other than Horton can hear me about the need for more research and treatment and cures for brain tumors and children’s cancer.  For now I will continue to do the “beeping” and “yapping” and “yipping” and “bipping.”  And maybe one day my little JoJo will come along and make the noise that the rest of the Jungle will hear.  Proving that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Works cited:

Firlik,Katrina.  Another Day in the Frotal Lobe.  New York; Random House, 2007.

Geisel,Theodore Seuss.  Horton Hears a Who!  New York; Random House, 1954.

Afterword:  The 3rd Grade production of’ “Suessical Jr.” may or may not have influenced this blog — as well as typing notes on the 7th grade English final exam including how to do a ‘works cited’ page.  Jus Sayin’

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Calories Should Be More Flammable

If I researched my family tree I have a feeling that it would be a pear tree.  I come from a long line of pear-shaped women – this includes both sides of my family.  So I could be classified as a “super pear” shape.  This is not a flattering shape to have unless you are 18 and still have the metabolism of an espresso drinking chipmunk.  Certainly not a flattering shape at age 40 and after sitting in a chair for the better part of your life staring at computers thereby causing your metabolism to slow down roughly to the speed of a 3 toed sloth with 4 broken legs.

The only way to combat this problem is Diet & Exercise.  Both of which should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.  Although I have gotten a much better handle on the diet part by finding foods I like that fit into my daily allowance of calories – I hate exercise.  I know I should feel so much better about myself after walking 3 miles (uphill both ways – no really you can do that on a treadmill) or after finishing most/some/part of Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred but all I feel is out of breath and the need for ibuprofen.  Unfortunately exercise is tethered to diet in some kind of weird and inseparable relationship like peanut butter and jelly or peas and carrots.

So aside from needing an inhaler and the Sam’s Club size Tylenol why else do I hate to exercise?  Well……. Jillian Michaels would be a topper on the list.  If I wanted to work out like a Marine ….. I would have joined the Marines.  And since most of her motivation revolves around showing off her abs and saying “if you want abs like these you gotta push it harder.”  Here’s a tip Jillian –  I have never had abs like yours even when I was skinny and since having children leaves a permanent layer of marshmallow fluff just below your belly button I’m guessing I never will have abs like that even if I do 1000 sit ups a day.  Since I detest the Jillian workout so much I found the Denise Austin Cardio Party DVD and thought I would give that a whirl.  Cardio and Party are two words which should never be used together – which should have been my first clue not to buy it.  About 1/3 of the way through it I was begging my daughter to get me water.  At 3/4 of the way through it I wasn’t entirely sure the food I ate 2 hours before wasn’t going to come back up.  But Denise was cheery and smiley and upbeat and positive the whole way through.  I’m not sure who I hate more the Drill Sergeant or the Cheerleader – I think it might be a tie.

Then there’s going to the gym.  Or in my case the community recreation center.  It’s not fun to be passed on the walking/running track by an 80-year-old man three times in a row.  Granted he looks like he’s been running marathons his entire life, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he’s 80 years old.  I have also noticed that I’m not very exercise fashion conscious.  I do not own several spandex bra-shirt things with matching yoga pants – I feel lucky to find a clean sports bra, t-shirt and sweatpants or shorts.  If they actually match in some way it’s a fluke.  Then comes the calorie counter.  The treadmill display likes to taunt you with how many calories you have burned.  Uphill (both ways) for 35 minutes at about 3 mph will burn maybe 250 calories.  The caloric equivalent of a candy bar.  Calories are tricky little things because you have to “burn” them off.  Unfortunately they have the flammability rating (how easily something will burn) roughly the same as flood damaged bricks.  So if you eat 2 candy bars – you have to walk on a treadmill over an hour to burn them off.  I think it’s just a mind trick myself – but I fall into the trap because I don’t want to walk for over an hour just to enjoy a package of m&m’s or Milky Way.  Unfortunately I will skip eating real food for breakfast and spend 30 minutes on a treadmill to have a small McCafe Carmel Frappe.

I’m thinking if I could come up with a way for calories to burn quicker — say if they had the flammability rating of something like gasoline– I’d solve the obesity problem in our nation.  I mean think of how great it would be if to burn 250 calories you only had to walk 5 minutes on the treadmill instead of 35.  Unfortunately I think that is biologically impossible – and if it’s chemically possible I’m not the person to discover it because I barely got a C in high school chemistry.

So for now I will still cuss at the TV while attempting to keep up with Jillian and Denise, and spend 35 minutes walking (uphill both ways) on the treadmill in my dreadfully unmatched t-shirt and shorts because I did enjoy buying some smaller sized shorts recently.  And I did get to laugh hysterically as I was leaving the rec center the other day.  I passed one of the exercise classes where the girls were all trying to do side leg lifts while balancing on giant bouncy balls and the instructor was counting off “1 and 2 and 3 and 4.”  Suddenly an image of the little Minions from Despicable Me doing an exercise class popped into my head.  They all had their little matching outfits and matching bouncy balls and were following along “1 and 2 and 3 and 4.”  Maybe we’re all just little Minions……….