Make yourself at home. Put your feet up. Grab your favorite beverage and prepare to enjoy the reads.





Dr. Mindell, tall, slender, well-composed, did not behave like a normal orthopedic Surgeon.  The one’s I had met before were all too high and mighty to be human, to look you in the eyes as if you were an equal.  They were accustomed to everyone idolizing them and took it for granted they were Gods.  I did notice that when he made rounds, he carried a little bit of that remote untouchable aura, probably for the sake of his entourage, but when he arrived in my room, he did not stand at the farthest corner nor at the foot of my bed like other physicians.  he came right up beside me and leaned against the mattress as he taught his students about the rare condition being treated.  Rare condition or not, in the presence of Dr. Mindell, I still felt like a human being, instead of a “case”.

Even though’ he hacked away  a large part of my body over several years of surgery to save my life, I don’t necessarily think of him as my protector for the reason of his medical expertise. Just one incident clings to my memory making me grateful for his existence.

After many weeks languishing in the hospital bed, I became well enough to be placed in a wheel-chair instead of a gurney to be transported to other departments for tests or treatments. One day, after a long wait in the radiology dept.  a staff-person wheeled me in for a set of x-rays.  And when all the required pictures had been taken, I was wheeled back and parted in the long empty hallway.

 “Aren’t you taking me back to my room?” I asked.

  “No.” I was told, “Someone else will take you up shortly.”

I sat there in the cold corridor until my butt became numb and the pain in my legs screamed for release.  At which point, I unlatched the lock on the wheels and began to impel myself toward the main hallway.  My arms were weak from having been abed for so long.  The chair, at least a hundred years old, was made of wood, with a very high backrest and huge wheels.  It was very unwieldy to operate, but, struggling mightily, my determination drove me further and further away from Radiology.  It surprised me that no paid any attention to me.  Dressed only in a short backless gown with hair splayed about my head, it was obvious I was a patient making her way alone in the busy hallways.  Visitors passed me by giving wide berth.  Hospital personnel bustled by sometimes blindly brushed up against me
as they passed.

I grew resentful.  Not only had I been forgotten, left to rot in the drafty bowels of the Hospital basement, but I was for all purposes, invisible to the very people employed to watch after my health.  What if something should happen to me?  I would be ignored.  Fearful of my invisibility, I strained harder to reach my goal;  the huge main elevator that could take me up the many floors to my room. By the time I arrived, I was weak, cold and perspiring profusely.  The hospital, as ancient as my wheelchair had an old-fashioned elevator.  Every time I had been taken to it by a staffperson, they had hurriedly forced the wheelchair through the open doors racing against time to get me inside, before the doors clenched shut.

There were no safety features as there are today, no magic eye to bounce the elevator door back open should someone or something attempt to pass through while it closed.  So, when the doors opened, people traipsed in as I struggled to wheel my cumbersome chair through.  Needless to say, the doors clamped shut on me just as I pulled my arms out of the way.  I looked at the people inside, who would not meet my eyes. It didn’t occur to me that this was serious, until the floor raised up beneath me and the wheelchair tilted precariously.

Not able to move my lower body in any way to save myself, I sat there helpless, as the chair began to crunch.  The only view I had at this point was the ceiling.  My last thought was, “after being heroically saved from the bone cancer and surviving, I am going to go by way of an elevator! Oh, well!” There was nothing I could do. I just resigned myself to my fate as I awaited my demise.

Just then, Dr. Mindell scooped me up in his big arms and carried me down the hall and placed me on the nearest gurney and personally returned me to my room. I don’t know what happened to the wheelchair or the people in the elevator. At the time I was too tired and sick to even care.  I was just glad that my protector, my body guard was there to save me.


Old Memory Stays Fresh

Today is a day in my history I cannot forget.

It sticks in my mind like clay at the bottom of a potter's wheel. You might laugh that this is such an "important" day when you learn the situation. But, it is just one of those things that when the day comes up, I automatically realize.... "Oh, it was this date that happened."

My hair all blonde, teased and sprayed in Marilyn Monroe style, I walked with my new date, Jeff, recently returned from Viet Nam, when my new pair of high heels caught on a rise of the sidewalk where a tree root had lifted it.

No big deal for the average person, but this fall caused me to do a split in the worse way possible. I had only been out of the hospital a few days after my Internal Hemipelvectomy surgery and the three months it had taken for me to recovery and heal sufficiently that I could actually walk again and go home. All I wanted to do was start my life all over again, and leave those haunting cancer memories behind me.

My mind set the incident in slow-motion re-play. I felt the heel of my shoe catch on the sidewalk, saw my body going down, tried to catch myself as my legs, betraying me, slid out in opposite directions. Then, the split of the incision pulled apart deep within me, and the hot blood seeped into the area where bone cancer used to be. It had not happened in a slow motion dream but in a blink of the eye, and there I was sprawled on the sidewalk.

Jeff had been a Medic in Nam, his flight or fight reaction were instinctual. When I fell, an odd look came across his face, something empty and desperate. His automatic response was to get me up, and hurry me off somewhere. Anywhere, to take me away from .... what? Enemy fire?

While writhing on the sidewalk, I had to convince him we were not on the battlefield, certainly not with my high heels. I told him there was no place to take me, no place safer than where I was. I had remain calm as I instructed him to go into the nearest restaurant and ask them to call for an ambulance. Because of my cancer history and the familiar physical symptoms I was experiencing, I knew I would not be able to get up and walk any time soon on my own.

I never saw Jeff again. He didn't follow the ambulance to the hospital. Perhaps he was as traumatized as I was?

Long story.....short. I spent another two months in the hospital.

So, today I look at this forty year stretch and pause. Many other things have occurred in my life with even more intensity. Today I no longer dream of falling and tearing myself open. Today I can smile about it. Maybe it's the ludicrous-ness of it all; blonde bombshell, soldier boy, romantic walk to restaurant; it was something out of a movie, and then, the twist...

Jeff, if you are reading this, I understand and I hope you got good treatment for your PSTD. Sending you love and healing.


Grandma's Cookbook

We may live without poetry, music and art;

We may live without conscience, and live with out heart.

We may live without friends, we may live without books;

But civilized man cannot live without cooks.

- Owen Meredith
Three Meals a Day
By Maude C. Cooke
Published     1902
by The Educational Co.


Free Brain Book

A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System

Brain Facts 
cover image
Brain Facts is a 74-page primer on the brain and nervous system, published by Society for Neuroscience.

Designed for a lay audience as an introduction to neuroscience, Brain Facts is also a valuable educational resource used by high school teachers and students who participate in Brain Awareness Week.

The 2008 edition updates all sections and includes new information on brain development, learning and memory, language, neurological and psychiatric illnesses, potential therapies, and more.

Download the full book (PDF) or download individual sections below. All downloads are PDFs.

Note: reposted from http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=brainfacts


Cinnamon Toast

My brother had played an April's Fool's trick on me. I was so little then that I didn't think it was funny and my feelings were hurt.

Mommy comforted me and explained how funny it could be to play an April Fool's trick on Davy.

She sat me down at the table and poured milk into my cereal. As I reached for the sugar, she pointed out how much the sugar looked just like the salt. I didn't need another hint. I asked Mommy if I could substitute one for the other to play an April Fool's trick on Davy.

I stood on the chair pouring the sugar into a bowl, then emptied the contents of the salt shaker into the sugar jar. I looked through the glass closely to make sure it didn't look like salt before I could convince myself that my April Fool's trick would work. I then attempted to pour the sugar into the salt shaker with little luck. Most of it splayed out on the table and onto the floor.

Mommy was not one to rush in and do the job for me. No, she stood by patiently and gave me a the broom to sweep the sugar from the floor. I didn't do a very good job of it to be sure. But, later that day the floor was miraculously clean of any evidence of the spill.

Since I was not capable of handling a five pound bag of sugar myself, Mommy got it down from the cupboard and put some into a glass measuring cup so I could more carefully pour the sugar into the salt shaker.

Once my plan was completed I awaited anxiously for the moment my big brother would come into the kitchen to have his breakfast.

Imagine my dismay when he asked if he could have eggs and sausage.

With a wink and a smile Mommy tried to help me out by suggesting Davy have cereal instead. But, we were out his favorite kind and he turned it down. He was not about to eat any of his little sister's cereal. I hadn't thought of that! So, I sat at the table pouting while Mommy cooked his breakfast.

Davy went to the toaster to put in the bread. In those days toast did not pop up by itself, the toaster had little doors that had to b opened when your toast was ready.

We had to stand there keeping an eye on it otherwise our toast would burn. I loved looking through the intricately formed slits in the little doors of the toaster observing the bright orange curly cues inside heat up.

As I stood next to him, he turned to me and asked if I would like some toast. I certainly did.

While Davy buttered his toast, he kept an eye out to keep my toast from burning. I was not allowed to touch the toaster as I would burn myself on it's hot metal doors.

Even if I could, I would not have been fast enough to get the toast out before it burned. I hated blackened toast. Scraping it never removed that charcoal flavor out if it!

Buttering my toast for me, Davy turned and said, "You want some cinnamon sugar on your toast?"

I loved cinnamon sugar and nodded enthusiastically. It didn't occur to me that the little crystal bowl my mother kept the mixture in was empty. When Davy reached for the sugar and mixed it with the cinnamon to put into the little crystal bowl I didn't give it a second thought.

Just as Mommy turned from the stove to give Davy his plate of eggs and sausage, and before she could say a word, I took my first bite of my cinnamon salty toast!

Photos are not my own