Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor
Author: John Kerastas
Non Fiction: A Memoir
Sunstone Press (November 15, 2012)
Length: 136 Pages
You can buy this book on Amazon
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.
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).
My Thoughts on the Book:
Chief Complaint: Brain Tumor is an incredible book and great uninhibited account of John and his journey through illness and brain tumors. John writes quite frankly and with humor about his ailments and experiences, making the reader learn from what he is going through, and actually laughing (out loud at times) instead of feeling bad for him. Even though I know a lot about medicine from my background, I still learned many things from this book and even more about how to handle stressful situations and how to take bad experiences and turn them into helping others. I definitely give this book a Five out of Five for engagement (I didn’t want to stop reading it), and the amount of humor, and how refreshing a book it was to read.