(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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