Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor
At 57 years old, I thought I was the poster child for fifty-year old healthiness: I competed in triathlons, rode in 100 mile biking events and ate a healthy diet chock full of organic vegetables. Then I discovered that I had a brain tumor the size of my wife’s fist. My memoir chronicles the first year I spent addressing tumor-related health issues: preparing for my first operation, discovering a dangerous skull infection, having the infected portion of my skull surgically removed, learning about my substantial vision and cognitive losses, undergoing rehab and radiation treatments, and learning to live with my “new normal.” And, as best I can tell, the phrase “new normal” is the medical community’s code words for “You’re alive, so quit bitchin’.” As my health changed, so did my sense of humor. My humor started out superficially light-hearted prior to the first operation; transmogrified into gallows humor after several subsequent operations; and leveled out as somewhat wry-ish after radiation and rehab. Topics I write about in the book include:
- How not to tell everybody you have a brain tumor
- Why it’s a lot of work to die in this country
- Why I had difficulties in naming my tumor
- How I negotiated bathroom visits with “Nurse Don’t-Bother-Me”
- Why I could prove that I was the “dumbest guy in the room”
- Why someone compared the back of my head to a diseased goat
- How I flunked a job interview with myself
This is a book for anybody interested in memoirs about people dealing with personal crises, for patients trudging through rehab, for caretakers helping victims of serious illnesses, or for anybody looking for an unexpected chuckle from an unlikely subject. Purchase Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor at Amazon.com
About John Kerastas
I’ve worked at a global advertising agency, at several technology start-up companies and as a free-lance writer. Currently I spend most of my time blogging, speaking and writing about brain health, brain tumors and rehab. I speak to hospital rehab groups, stroke and aphasia groups, and last summer spoke at the American Brain Tumor Association’s annual “Patient and Caregiver” conference. My charity and non-profit efforts includes work through the Taproot Foundation on behalf of Apna Ghar (a Chicago-based non-profit providing domestic violence services to immigrant communities). I also go on Appalachia Service project trips through my church, participate in Early Response Teams that follow first responders into disaster areas, and teach and certify Early Response Teams through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (e.g.UMCOR).
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In recent times, I have read several books about death, near-death, and serious medical issues. All of these are basically upbeat, and my hat goes off to those who have experienced these medical challenges. I am happy to report that this is a nice, short book with a very upbeat, sincere, and honest message. There is even some humor injected into it that I enjoyed, especially the musical references.
As I read about this man’s experience, I was absolutely amazed at what medical science can do in this day and age. It used to be that brain tumors and injuries were almost a absolute death sentence. Not so in this case and many. I cannot believe all this man went through, and his positive outlook was a breath of fresh air. I could have done without the profanity, but I can excuse that under the circumstances. While this is not on par with some of the books similar to this one, it is a nice, light read that will make you realize that life can change in a moment. We are never promised tomorrow, and we should live like we are dying. No, the author did not die, but there was always that chance.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
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