Monday, February 23, 2015

My Second Favorite Organ

That's how Woody Allen once referred to his brain. That turns out to be a little apocryphal, given the trouble he's had using his brain to manage some of his other organs, but even if you had your heart or lungs in the number one spot, your brain has to have a spot somewhere in the top five. It's the command center. It's the one that minds the store. At least that's what we hope.
A friend of ours recently had brain surgery. It started one day when she noticed that she wasn't seeing in color on one side. In the olden days, we might simply had asked for an adjustment of her antennae. After that, old school television repair suggests a good whack on the side of the set to get all those tubes to line up just so. Of course, brain surgery is not television repair. Nor is it rocket science. It is a job that I would rather not have, since "good enough" tends to be my standard for repairs. With something like a brain, you probably want it put back in showroom condition. Even better, how about an upgrade?
I am regularly upgrading programs and operating systems on my external brain. I add memory to help it keep up with the brighter, faster future that is in front of me. With all this poking around in our friend's head over the past couple weeks, it occurred to me that maybe we're missing out on an amazing opportunity here: elective brain surgery. As it turns out, this is a real thing. Doctors are cutting people's heads open and rewiring things to make them run right. Admittedly it's not as simple as changing the spark plugs on my '74 Super Beetle, but practice makes perfect, right? And isn't that what doctors do: practice?
I know. "Practice brain surgery" sounds a little like "military intelligence." I'm sure that it is just my own semantic squeamishness that causes me to flinch. Or maybe that's a systemic reaction that could be sanded off my thalamus. Perhaps I could get a trim on my anxieties or my insatiable appetite for peanut M&Ms. Now it begins to occur to me just how dangerous this trend could be. Like the addictions some people get to plastic surgery, having someone poking around in your brain on a regular basis may not have the effect you had hoped. I'm thinking Randle Patrick McMurphy, for example. In the meantime, I'm happy to announce that Nurse Ratched has not been seen on our friend's ward.

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