On my 49th birthday, I thought about how I wanted to do something unique and memorable during the last year of my 40s. Less than a month later, my brain tumor was found. Although I sure won’t forget the experience, I know that I don’t want my surgery to be the only thing to stand out in my 49th year.
I want to scheme a plan that makes me laugh in anticipation. I want to be part of something positive. Something that makes a difference to someone else, even if it’s just the difference of a frowning or neutral face transformed into a smiling one. My brain liked the idea, and it didn’t take much brainstorming to decide on one cool plan. Once my brain wrapped itself around this little adventure, it shivered in happiness and refused to let me think of anything else but … ice cream!
Ice cream — all it takes is one bite of cold, creamy goodness to freeze sadness in its tracks. Ice cream on the brain proved to be much better than the tumor on it. My brain is accustomed to pain as its constant companion, but for once, my brain, and not pain was in charge of the conversation.
The first questions my brain sent racing around its tumor-free home: “What are we going to do with this ice cream, and why?”
The answers I gave my brain: “We’re giving the ice cream away! We want to make someone smile and we want to stay focused on the positive of what we’re trying to do instead of on the pain.”
My brain voiced its concerns over what we might say and where we’d go to find people who might need a smile or some good cheer. It also worried that the people we wanted to make smile would keep frowning instead, and maybe they wouldn’t like ice cream. I told my brain that the words would come, somehow, and we had to at least try: If they didn’t like the ice cream, at least they would know we were thinking about them and wishing them well.
I bought a big variety pack of ice cream treats and talked it over with my brain to determine where the best places to go might be. The excitement of planning and executing my positive plan succeeded in sending the pain in my brain to stand in the corner of my skull, where it sulked. My brain and I decided our first stop would be the Lima Police Department.
Every officer I have had the honor to meet has taught me something, from Dave Vastano, who taught me and several other women how to defend ourselves, to Andy Green, who granted me an interview and shared his amazing story of service in the Army. I wanted the police to know that I and my healing brain were thinking of them and appreciating all they do and give to the Lima community.
I walked into the Lima Police Department and waited at the window nervously. After awhile, Patrolman Nostz appeared. I smiled, greeted him, explained about my surgery and needing to do something positive. I said that I had chosen the Lima police to share ice cream with because I admired their efforts and wanted them to know they were appreciated.
Patrolman Nostz gave me a dimpled smile and said, “I’m sure the officers will be happy to eat some ice cream; thank you!” He met me at the door he had unlocked, took the box of ice cream from me and walked away.
I hope my plan succeeded, that smiles lit up that police department after I’d gone. It was a fun, positive experience, even though I was hoping to meet some of the other officers and see their reaction to the ice cream. Just because my plan didn’t unravel exactly as I wanted, I know there was good in it. I also know my plan succeeded in another way — my brain ached, but did not scream, thanks to that ice cream.
Dawn Kessinger lives in Lima.