BRAIN BLOWN BOOK PROLOGUE available summer 2018
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
This is a memoir (to the best of my recollections and ability), which is a medical-directed adventure story written by a traumatically brain-injured doctor. But, it is not just for other TBI-ers, their caretakers, or doctors because it is also a comeback story with positive suggestions learned from bad decisions - mine.
As every good story there are a great many actors, who are great characters. I would like you to meet them in the book. However, I will give an introduction to a few now.
The first is me, a doctor, who lives the good life for a time. This man, when a college student performed a 2000 years old play of Aristophanes’ ‘The Frogs’ in the original stone amphitheater in Athens, Greece. An experience that put him in touch with the ancient-wisdom of Western Culture without wearing funny-looking robes.
Then as a graduate microbiology student, he peered down a microscope at various Cytomegalic viruses as well as numerous many-toothed gut worms. He also speculated on the virus that was killing tens-of-thousands of patients in 1984. This became HIV. The very definition of frightening is a grand understatement.
In medical school, he scalpeled through a beef-jerky, human cadaver that cut like a telephone pole. It scalded his nose with the preserving formaldehyde. This impressed him as a religious experience when not sniffling, coughing or tearing-up.
As a Family Practice doctor with two clinics, he attended the usually described scenario of “diapers to diapers.” He did it well and learned that humans are both beautiful and fragile. Additionally, he told funny jokes in an Irish accent that was osmosed from being surrounded by family and cousins that had the ‘brogue’ so thick, it was as sometimes unfathomable to the American ear.
Being born in Spain, he also spoke a fair bit of Spanish, (as his Irish family had escaped Ireland). A summer stint in Iturbide, Mexico, in an isolated village high-up in the Sangre de Christo mountains, was as surreal as his later delusions. Half his day was spent with a western-trained doctor delivering babies, prescribing medications. and the other half casting spells, concocting herbs and performing various rituals with the Curandero (Witch Doctor). This was a life changing but weird experience in learning to be more open than to only what med-school had taught.
Hold on now. Then this doctor, like a Shakespearean-tragedy protagonist, took the fall. Yes, the cataclysmic plummet - literally! The nosedive into calamity that everyone fears. This informed him . . . well, you shall see.
After the fall the doctor did different scary things. For example: yelling at everyone he met (including street cops) and forgetting most of his personal and professional history. But, he excelled at being homeless. And, eventually was accepted into their community. Thus, the second set of characters to meet are the homeless-folks of an infinite variety: veterans, schizophrenics, manic-depressives, but also a chef, engineer and a software coder.
They have names like Blue (so black he looks blue), Zen, Marmalade, ‘Vet’ and Mary-Med. Technically most are psychologically-busted (crazy), but the more accurate diagnosis is neural-neurochemically (one or more glands in the brain) imbalanced. Doctors refer to them as ‘injured above the neck.’
Zen, Blue, Marmalade, et al. wanted the reader to know what their lives are like. I made a heartfelt promise to be their tongue. So now I tell about their lives and re-story mine with them. This book began in a memoir class that was actually a prescription given to me by my neurologist to reorder my brain and make sense of who I was after the fall.
But, there is another reason for what you are reading. I owe both my homeless street-friends and you, who are reading these words now.
Alone is an abandoned trailer, I stood with a bottle of sleepers in one hand and in the other, a bottle of tablets of potassium - to stop my heart. And, on the counter a glass of Moscato wine - a sweet one is perfect for suicide. The memories of my ‘Streeters’ kept me from popping tops and downing all three as a final medical treatment.
The other pull to life was that one day in a far future the injured would read these words and be spared pain and know there is hope.
The third set of characters are medical folks with about every set of letters behind their name: nurses, veterinarians, psychologists, massage therapist, doctors, physical therapists and street-social workers with hearts bigger than their paychecks. They pulled me, and many others like me - the unwanted and marginalized - back into society to a place of acceptance and understanding.
My young daughter, Riley is here as well. She still doesn’t know what to think of me but is glad to have her father back. Lastly, the best character to be introduced is Chewy. A fifteen-pound Carrion-Terrier, Jack Russell mix. He is my service dog. When I wasn’t hallucinating his rough-Russian accent, or his being a vampire-canine (in the very broken years) saved my life on many occasions and continues still to contribute to it in the most novel ways. My Leg Lifter is a spectacular role model for bipeds informing them of his canine contributions.
So, that gives you an idea of what this book is all about, but of course, so much more. I want you to learn about TBIs - traumatic brain injuries. And know someone can come back from even the most devastating afflictions. It takes work and support from many people. I am hoping you, after reading this memoir, will be able to recognize all those damaged above the shoulders. Moreover, follow in the footprints of my service dog, Chewy, and provide the help to those now visible to you.