“I’m glad my surgery is just a little over a week away. Good timing. No guarantees, but I am psyched up for relieving my spinal cord and nerve roots from so much compression. I can totally see this being like what my 1998 brain stem surgery did for me. That is best case, and I’ll focus on that and deal with what actually happens, like we always do.”

“In any moment, choose enduring emotions wisely.”

Pain is exhausting. I still tire fast/out of nowhere, dealing with tumor load, but I’m not rundown 24/7 like I was. I went through years and years of that chronic pain. Never did find a pain med that solved that (being at Notre Dame and around my nephews were great consolations, and I did learn a lot from experiencing that invisible load). At one point, after two more meds had turned on me, I insisted to local neurologist and then the pain clinic specialist, that I wanted to pursue working on movement, strength, and exercise. Both of them still insisted I try more meds. No thank you–I just kept going about my passions, like you are. FINALLY got my therapy on after another few years of pain, and going through the wringer with meningioma surgery (times three). Miracle of all, between recoveries and alleviation of most of the pain. True, much is gone due to numbness and lowered sensitivity, but here I am in the position of possibly acquiring more (hopefully short-term) pain with this surgery, than what I have going in. This is a first, other than my very first surgery. I do have the alleviation of pressure on my entire spinal cord, and more, to gain short and long term. I don’t think I’d be alive if we had started spinal surgeries on me in my teens, and I’m so thankful for even the advancements in knowledge and experience in even the past five years, not to mention the cumulative tools and resilience I’ve built over 22 years. The timing is feeling right.

Thanks for getting me on a roll, and listening. It’s always surprising how things work out over time. We are bombarded with messages that everything just gets worse with age/disease course/yada yada, and it totally neglects the reality of how adaptive our bodies and minds are. Tap your potential and give yourself some credit for how well you are holding up, all things considered. I hope your appointments go well, and your energy level picks up while pain plummets.

Love and Hugs,

Tea and honey

(Even simpler than the process paper I wrote for layered Jell-O, for 12th grade English)

Shared with family member* who needed directions, and inspired by my nephews:

1[encircled] MAKE HOT TEA

2[encircled] ADD HONEY, STIR & SERVE

* Highly intelligent male, with irrational fear of kitchen activities; always exceeds expectations despite reluctant attitude, AKA “Popcorn King”

Howie is out with the P. Zambrano-inspired game show. I have the sick-person’s dilemma: how to sufficiently praise the substitute honey tea maker, without diminishing the level of appreciation and praise for the original honey tea maker.

Howie and Chris *rock* as sociologists.

I may have alluded to it, but I would need to check whether I cited it.

“But [Dr.] Horn said he believes Peyton will be back. ‘A lot of what dictates how people heal is their mental makeup,’ Horn said. ‘There’s no doubt he’s got a pretty strong mental makeup, and he’s got a great amount of fortitude and determination.’ ”
From “Surgeon gives insight into Manning’s possible problems*” retrieved on December 1, 2012, from

* Updated: Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012, 4:16 PM EST Published: Tuesday, 06 Sep 2011, 6:42 PM EDT

Dr. Horn is my spinal surgeon at Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine. I am preparing questions for him, and recalled the Peyton Manning link prior to our initial meeting. PM has been playing for Denver since then, and I have quipped to myself and in passing to others, about using his outcome as a sort of barometer in contemplating the timing of any surgery to address tumors and cysts compressing substantial portions of my spinal cord. (As amusing an anecdote as that may serve, I have a matrix of time-varying covariates at play–the greatest of which are quite serious. Always remember: laughter is a healing force in itself.) There are many fascinating asides here, but suffice it to say Dr. Lou places a whole lot of stock in fundamentals and preparation, while never neglecting the importance of INTANGIBLES. Come to find out, PM was born in the same year as I was, and we have more in common than I would have guessed when he was a QB for that orange-colored uniform school.

I am a fan of intangibles**, I am bringing quite the mental orientation and experience necessary for Team Przybysz to shine. Glad to know it factors into coach’s play book.

Now is the time to be receptive to the positive unknowns.

** Many folks saw Manti Te’o pushing the broom at the basketball game. I noticed him costumed as one of the zamboni drivers at the hockey game. TCB

Shout-out to Sky and NDWBB, following elevator ride with Assistant Coach Beth Morgan Cunningham. (No inadvertent autograph, as with the Hesburgh/Joyce elevator moment.)


In the span of the past 22 years, while intra-cranial, brain stem, and peripheral nerve tumors succeeded at punching tickets for many world petri-dish tours (and many other tumors happily hopped with Przybysz), the former* dumbbell-shaped tumors, particularly in the thoracic region of my spinal cord, were generally happy with the spectacles of neural activity spurred by the over eight times of losing and rebuilding of my legs/walking**.

I am truly blessed to be alive, and to have this present opportunity of building up some targeted support areas prior to surgical intervention. Tomorrow commences our weekly sessions at the site of the trifecta rebuild of 2009.

I’m at peace with all the cells in my body. I work with them, they work with me. Like any relationship, it’s all about respect and reciprocity.

Move this!

* They are now dendritic and inhibiting the flow of spinal fluid.

** Cane on campus, at 18? Liberating. The joy of walking! Golf cart stories? Priceless!
Acting as a twenty-something example for elderly neighbors who were reluctant to use mobility aids? Down with stigma; all hail function!

I don’t mind repeating myself: I am blessed and fascinated by this life, and the folks sharing the journey.

Props to my peeps who live with heightened sensitivity to interdependence.

Love Being, unconditionally, at the same moment (which is every moment) our being is conditioned by others.

Turn those labels and assumptions on their heads.

Let’s set this record straight: I present with a report of symptoms, rather than complaints.

Alright, so the experience goes:
I set new baselines and much wider daily variability in ambulating and lower extremity sensation and movement, through the prior(wow) seven years. Aside: these all concurrent with upper-extremities and even previously acknowledged cognitive alterations and rebuilds (in contrast to younger fourteen years of primarily informal, targeted localized physical rehabilitation). There’s this extraordinarily complex matrix of interactions. (And, given, studies at Our Lady’s University are undoubtedly among the best cognitive therapy catalysts available.)

It’s been over twenty years since we discovered I also had spinal tumors, and almost underwent surgery, in hopes of resuming contact sports. It’s been grand, unintentional scenic routes and all. A true, living experiment.

Shall we stay receptive to the positive?

Just a cursory find, until I gain access to Wolpaw (2012)*:

Spinal Cord (2004) 42, 47–49. doi:10.1038/
Does the neuronal plasticity exist in elderly patients? report of an unusual clinical case

G Gambardella, O Gervasio and C Zaccone


Study design: Case report.

Objective: To report complete recovery after paraplegia in an elderly patient after removal of meningioma at C7-T1 level.

Setting: Department of Neurosurgery, Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Methods: An 82-year-old lady with 48 months of progressive weakness and numbness was admitted with complete paraplegia lasting 15 days. Investigations (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)) demonstrated a meningioma at C7-T1. The tumour compressed the extremely thinned spinal cord. MRI after surgery showed no evidence of residual tumour and the spinal cord was of normal dimensions. The patient recovered fully and locomotion was restored.

Conclusion: Surgical decompression gave an excellent result. The result raises the possibility of neuronal plasticity.

neuronal plasticity, elderly, paraplegia

Future ref:
Letter to the Editor: Jonathan R. Wolpaw* “Harnessing neuroplasticity for clinical applications” Brain aws017 first published online February 28, 2012 doi:10.1093/brain/aws017

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