Saturday, November 22, 2008

Researching My Little Heart Out

For the last 2 days, I've been working in between things to learn more about pirates and about the Black Prince's Ruby. 

Both are for sections of my book, Insanity Rules: Gems of Wisdom.

So fun!

Now I have some other news and some pretty plain talk. 

I've been invited to see an autopsy for research on the brain donation chapter. There's a challenge for me. 

I've been trained (although a long, long time ago) to handle city-wide emergencies, trauma and emergency management by the airlines. I've handled some huge events like a truck/van accident on a mountain pass and heart attacks at the airport.

What I learned about myself in those experiences? I can easily direct and delegate. I can even handle traumatic injuries. 

But I've never seen a huge surgery like this and it makes me a tad nervous.

So you're wondering, is she going?
Can she handle it?

Well, let me answer for you. 

Yes. (And the doc is taking some steps to help me manage my nervous expectations by draping what I don't need to see. Then little by little, I can learn as I'm ready.)

My purpose is to learn more about the extraction of the human brain in order to help other people understand when they choose to donate their brain or a loved one's brain for the study of something like schizophrenia or dementia.

Something that is going in my book: All brain, organ and tissue donations allow for open casket funerals. I didn't realize that until I spoke with my friend, the doc who did my mom's procedure.

Why is that important? 

Because many people are afraid to donate for fear that the funeral will be too hard to handle. Knowing this small detail can help a lot of people overcome a common misperception, that their loved one (or self) will be somehow mutilated, and opt for the donation.

Personally, I did donate my mom's brain for schizophrenia study.  I couldn't even tell the procedure had happened. (There's a past post in the archives about this topic.) We had a private viewing prior to the memorial service because we buried my mom in Colorado. I chose cremation to allow for travel needs and so the funeral was actually two months later. But it was still important for me to process her death in my emotions with my family. The viewing was normal and there were no tell-tale signs.

Organ donation is a way for the dead to help the living keep living. Brain donation is a way for the dead to help the living continue to learn. (Paraphrased from Doctor W. L. Kemp.)

Thinking about it that way, either choice is a gift to the next generation. Allowing study may or may not help someone immediately but it is a gift to generations upon generations from what is learned about disease, conditions and how the body works.

Would you consider brain, tissue or organ donation?

Why or why not?

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