Last week I finished reading a really excellent book called “Stiff”, by Mary Roach. It’s about human cadavers and what happens (in a scientific and humorous way) after we die. I realize this could be considered morbid, but it was a really good book and the reality of the situation is that one day, we will all be cadavers. As an additional note, I wasn’t drinking when I read this and it’s been messing with me for days.
Apparently the human body is 73.8% water. Which I did some calculations and (while I am absolutely no mathematician) learned that all my stuff equals 34.32 pounds. All my stuff. Without water, that means my skin, bones, muscles, fat, organs and BRAIN only weigh 34-ish pounds. I really strongly feel like it should be more than that.
So, excluding water, my brain alone weighs less than a pound. The average brain weighs 3 lbs, so if it’s 73.8% water, I’m going to conclude that my brain weighs around ¾ of a pound. Of course, please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and my mathematical skills aren’t exactly top-notch either.
Sometimes when I’m running, I wear a weighted vest. Just an ultra-marathon style vest and I pack it full of little bags of sand that weigh two pounds each (but there are a few of said sand bags). I increase it over the season and then when I race, I feel so much lighter. Plus (I hope) if I increase over time then I will be better prepared for races where I have to carry all my supplies. My point here being that each one of those little sand bags is more than double what my brain weighs.
A few weeks ago I tried interval fasting. Six days of limiting my caloric intake to less than 500 calories while still running (barely) and drinking tons of water. Since then I’ve increased caloric intake back to normal and increased my running. The fasting wasn’t particularly remarkable apart from that I was hungry and tired ALL THE TIME. In reading about it later I learned that it’s actually a terrible idea for athletes and people with medical conditions (which is not surprising. I just wasn’t using that 1-ish pound thing inside my head). I did, however, lose about four pounds (and I haven’t gained them back…yet). That’s more than four times the weight of my brain.
My brain. That squishy thing that makes everything happen. It makes decisions. It starts the motivation to go running. It makes arguments. It has seizures. It can be sad or happy or outraged or sarcastic.
Somewhere in that specific 0.75 pounds of me is epilepsy. Somewhere and everywhere in that 0.75 lbs is the condition that has changed my life. That has resulted in injuries. That has resulted in emotional and physical trauma. That has meant there are things that I cannot do. Somewhere in there is the reality that puts me at risk when I shower, run, walk, exist.
Also in that 0.75 pounds is ME. All of me. It’s the place that the decision has been made not to let epilepsy stop me or slow me down. It’s the place that the decision was made to be athletic. It’s the place that the decision was made push myself farther and faster. To be ambitious and want a professional career. To be kind. To travel and find adventure. To love and to hurt. To be fabulous. To not have children. To be dramatic. To go to university. To move to a new city. 0.75 pounds that remembers all of the song lyrics. That makes poor choices like interval fasting. That makes excellent choices like attending yoga classes. That can’t manage to make a full sentence around celebrities. That can design great Halloween costumes.
From that 0.75 lbs, I started writing a blog. I met amazing people and spoke about my experiences at a conference. All of the things in that 0.75lbs, the epilepsy and the choices, have combined to make who I am, including growing and evolving as a person. When I think about it, how can I not love my brain? Whatever portion has seizures, I believe that it is such a small portion compared to all the other things in there. The other 33.57 lbs have done a lot as well, but what they do begins in my brain. Every muscle movement, every extra deep breath in yoga class, every enthusiastic but poorly performed karaoke song, all of that started in my brain. No wonder I have epilepsy. Maybe sometimes that busy brain needs a break and to re-set.
So, in conclusion to this entry, for a thing that weighs less than a pound, my brain is a very crowded place. But it still weirds me out that my brain weighs less than my lunch bag.