Chief Complaint: Brain TumorAt 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
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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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