Monday, August 25, 2014

Describing Life on Chemo

Here’s a particularly articulate description of enduring chemo treatments by blogger and brain tumor victim Mark Green excerpted from a post on his blog, moosevt:
“The opportunity to reflect is a gift: what was, what could’ve been, what might be, becomes part of a deeply tumultuous swirl of emotion from places within I didn’t even know existed. Because of this cancer I’ve been given this time, this heretofore unwelcome ‘gift.’ And there is nothing like Jackson Browne to reach inside my heart and pull everything right up to the front, like the deep roots of some primeval tree, to unleash a torrent.”

Later in the same posting he says “After enduring two weeks of chemo in the hospital and a third to begin Tuesday I’m feeling a little bit like a  punchdrunk boxer in the ring: DeNiro in Raging Bull with fists coming slow, hard and unrelenting. I know I’ve referred to the Native American character in “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” who in the end ripped the sink from the flooring and smashed through the wall, releasing the patients from the asylum. 

While certainly my hospital stays are nothing of the sort, the doctors, staff and nurses all being top- rate, being tethered (and often entangled like a fish caught in a driftnet) to an IV pole day after day, having it wrapped around my legs and arms having to unplug every time I have to go to the bathroom trying to get there before it’s too late, having it pull on my PIC-lined arm is not a friend I wish to be attached to. The notion of tossing the entire IV pole through the plateglass window comes to mind quite often.”

Honest. Insightful. Painful to read, but well worth doing so.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

“What I Have Learned In the Six Months Since My Brain Tumor Surgery...”

On the whole, I’ve found brain tumor bloggers to be particularly thoughtful and introspective. In the throes of surgeries, money struggles, physical struggles, mental struggles and a host of other issues, they often find time to write poignant, insightful postings that make me stop and think.

Here’s a link to an terrific ABTA Inspire posting that explains what the writer has learned and a whole lot more. Some of her insights include the following:
  • Always be kind to people because you do not know what they may be dealing with beneath the surface.
  • Technology is awesome.
  • People are fundamentally good and kind.
  • Some people are surprisingly unkind to those who are facing adversity.
  • Sometimes an eyelid twitch is just an eyelid twitch, or is it?

PS - To be clear, I didn't learn these important lessons - this unidentified brain tumor survivor did.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Brain Tumors, seizures, dementia and “Alive Inside”

Had a brain tumor? What about seizures? Worried about them, too? Does Dementia scare the snot out of you?

I have this fear of somebody sticking me in a corner and drooling when I’m too brain damaged from all of the above to know who I am or who my family is.

Surprisingly, it seems like one solace for folks with Alzheimer’s disease is music, especially music that the victim likes. In fact, in this excerpt from an upcoming documentary entitled “Alive Inside,” music reaches, inspires and engages patients in a way that nothing else has been able to do.

I dare you to watch this video that’s got over nine million hits and not feel a little chill run up your spine.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Laughter is the new meditation

I just read an article by Amanda Chan in The Huffington Post where she writes that a recent research study found that “Joyful laughter and meditation look similar in the brain…:
Chan reports that “A small study from Loma Linda University researchers shows that when people engage in humor-associated mirthful laughter, their brain wave frequencies are similar to that which are seen when a person engages in meditation.”

More specifically, the researchers noted that "Humor Associated with Mirthful Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma-band oscillations. Gamma is the only frequency found in every part of the brain," study researcher Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, of Loma Linda University, said in a statement. "What this means is that humor actually engages the entire brain -- it is a whole brain experience with the gamma wave band frequency and humor, similar to meditation, holds it there; we call this being, 'in the zone.’

In case you’re wondering, being “in the zone” is a good thing, because, as the researchers stated, "We suggest HAML [humor associated mirthful laughter] may be another non-pharmacological lifestyle intervention to provide health, wellness [and] adjunctive therapeutic benefits.”

I’ve blogged on the brain benefits of meditation a number of times. Here’s a link to my most recent meditation blog post:

Copyright: <a href=''>daynamore / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Someone You Should Know: Lisa Peabody, Volunteer Brain Tumor Advocate

I invite you all to read this guest post by Lisa Peabody, a volunteer brain tumor advocate with the National Brain Tumor Society. 

Part of her posting is about her daughter Caroline who received a fatal diagnosis of a brain tumor in her brainstem.

Just as impactful is what she’s done as a result of that tragedy.