Saturday, November 14, 2009


Ko-Ko. She's something appalling!
Pitti-Sing. Ah! that's only her face. She has a left elbow which people come miles to see!
Pooh-Bah. I am told that her right heel is much admired by connoisseurs.
---From “The Mikado,” by Gilbert & Sullivan

I am going to donate my brain and my spinal cord to science. I thought they’d never ask.

The decision was a no-brainer, so to speak. I’ve been waiting decades for science to realize what a treasure trove awaits them inside my skull. Actually, I was hoping that the Arts or Humanities would ask first, but Science spoke up and time is running short.

Also, according to the consent form, they may accept my adrenals, anus (be my guest), any malignant tissues, blood, blood vessels, bone marrow, carotid arteries, cerebrospinal fluid, cervix, esophagus, eyes, fat (take it now!), gut, hair, heart, kidney, liver, lung, lymph nodes, muscle, ovaries, pancreas, peripheral nerve, skin, spleen, stomach, thymus, thyroid, urine, vagina (are they going to figure out the mileage, or what?), and any other body tissues not mentioned.

Do I have any other body tissues not mentioned? Apparently so. They say they may even harvest other bits and pieces, too, including individual cells that may be used commercially. Naturally, I’d hope for residuals if this happens. If there’s anything left after that, the world is welcome to them. I am accepting dibs on my left elbow and right heel. It’s first come, first served.

The good part is that they will cremate what’s left over for free. That can probably be done in an ashtray, and they can give a thimbleful of my “cremains” to my husband as a souvenir.

I have to promise to die within 120 miles of the university, but that can be arranged, I’m sure. And I have to be screened before it's official. That is pending. I’m not sure I’ll pass the screening or not. The doctor may run screaming when he or she gets to the part about prior drug use.

It says here, the “post-mortem examination may include, but need not be limited to, the head, eyes, spinal cord, chest, abdomen, arms and legs. ... [however, this] procedure will leave the body is a suitable condition for viewing.”

By whom? Count Dracula? I assume they mean, “suitable for viewing” as long as nobody turns me over.

Since my body has not been in a suitable condition for viewing for a good 20 years, this will indeed be a medical miracle if they pull it off.

Naturally, I would like to be around when they get the results of all this, but I guess that’s out of the question. But it seems the least I can do in the war against ALS. Since I was diagnosed, individuals and foundations have been giving to me hand over fist, and I bless them for it. Giving back ... especially when you’re dead and it doesn’t hurt or cost you anything ... seems a gimme.

My only caveat is that when the university has finished ooo-ing and ahh-ing over my spine, they will, in turn, donate it to the Democratic Party.