A few weeks ago, I grumbled to the Garage guests about not putting out a Fall Epistle. I’ve always said if it wasn’t worth reading I wouldn’t print one, and nobody had written anything and I had nothing to say, so . . . . A guest, lying on the couch in the middle of the room, popped up like a prairie dog. “I’ll write one,” he said, “Brain tumors can be fun.” His life, he said, had become mundane, routine, and then he got a brain tumor and that solved that. Really.

This is his story:

Brain tumors can be just as amusing as they are disheartening.

My name is Dave. I am 40 years old. Just an average, ordinary kid. Mid-April this year the “big” headache began and my vision faded to black. On April 29 I was diagnosed with a rare cancerous brain tumor. That’s when the fun began. Directly to Barrow’s Neurological Center I went. Within two days I went from a blind guy with a bad headache to a hollow shell of my former self: Unable to remember more than two sequential numbers and no longer able to assemble the words to deliver my thoughts in a meaningful way to another human and, possibly, to most life forms.

Jump forward 20 radiation and nine chemo sessions, and I’m back. OK. Here is where the fun really began. I have very little of my vision left, no sense of smell, little sense of taste, my ears constantly ring, and my fingers are mostly numb. (Please note, for those who don’t know me. I am not making a joke of brain cancer. This is just my take on what it means to me.)

Let me weigh the pros and cons for you.

I recently ate a Brussels sprout and only became aware of it when I was told what it was. (I can’t stand Brussels sprouts.) I can’t focus my eyes on an object, but I can throw WAY more accurately. I still love the outdoors, but rarely see the animals. When crossing the street stops being fun, I’ll use the crossing lights.

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t seen that?” There is no difference in the scent of rotten eggs or spring flowers. I can’t focus well enough to read a book, a paper, or a magazine. No upside to that. A mountain bike is a full-time, white-knuckle ride, and now I ride slower than a herd of turtles.

  • Pro: I could eat cauliflower or Brussels sprouts and not know it.
  • Con: I could eat cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
  • Pro: Nothing smells bad.
  • Con: Nothing smells good.
  • Pro: Mountain biking is exhilarating even at a snail’s pace.
  • Con, or maybe pro: I’ve learned to ride via echo location. For example, I called out, “Jack, where are you?” Jack answered, “Down here. Careful of the rut in the trail and the rock on the left.”
  • Pro:I work on my mountain bike while staring at the sky.
  • Con: One day, while talking to a friend, I apologized for not looking her in the eye. ”Headless friends creep me out,” I explained.
  • Pro: Now I recognize people by their gait and voice.

Works out fine.


An ode to brain tumors

Lump in my head
What a dread

Blurry sight
Might as well be night

Lack of smell and taste
Food and flowers go to waste

 – David Meyer