I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14
Hi all! I hope you had a great weekend! Mine was mostly Runnin’ Til I’m Purple, doing back-to-back 16 mile jogs trying to get ready for back to back 37 mile jogs in June. Gulp. My heart was bigger than my brain. I am trying with all my might. My Covid time several months ago still has me getting tired easier than I should, but I will press on.
Speaking of heart bigger than my brain, I just wanted to quickly discuss my clinical trial from last week. The topic: Imaging Biomarkers in Obesity (Most notably, neuroinflammation and how it may lead to dementia) Here is the link.
My day was pretty typical of the clinical trials and studies I have made part of my routine as I help tilt brain windmills using my best talent: trying hard. I got to Washington University at 8am and did the informed consent part of the day. This is when they carefully read everything that will happen including possible dangers and pitfalls. Then I sign a document or two saying I get it. Then, in this study, I did a standard cognitive test…one I have completed a dozen times. You probably know the drill: count backward, redraw this shape, remember these words while you get your noggin filled with many other things, then recall said words… From there I did a glucose tolerance test. They basically tested my ability to recover from getting a bunch of sugar injected into my arm… Typical as well. I had done a similar one at KU Med about three months ago although the KU Med one was VERY extensive, especially in comparison. A few more things here and there…a brief physical, a few easy tests, then I was done until after lunch at which time I met my new MRI friends.
An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is, along with the PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan, truly the most amazing inventions in the late 20th century (both trace to the late 1970s). Both of these tools, sometimes administered with a “tracer”, a fluid injected into the patient to make certain things show up better, are completely non-invasive and safe. The only real risks, I suppose, are, in the case of an MRI, metal-related (other than if the loud noise hurts your ears through the headphones…but it didn’t hurt my ears as much as listening to John Denver does). An MRI utilizes a super…and I mean SUPER array of magnets to see inside of your body. Here is a great and short video that explains it: VIDEO (and, if you are interested, here is one on PET Scans: Video). MRIs are not 3D, but are thin slices that are joined together in the computer to display a 3D model. Therefore this next picture is one slice of my brain. I kind of labeled it as best I could figure it out:
Crud…that wasn’t it.
I would like to note, though, my brain is, indeed, very friendly.
Here it is. Be kind if I mislabeled something, knowing that I used my limited brain to label my limited brain:
I am thankful that my Research Partners snagged me a picture of my brain albeit low-resolution. It does show some interesting parts. The following material explains a few of these labeled parts.
The data is from this link from Johns Hopkins:
Anatomy of the brain
The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord. The brain is an important organ that controls thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, respirations, temperature, hunger, and every other process that regulates our body.
What are the different parts of the brain?
The brain can be divided into the cerebrum, brainstem, and cerebellum:
- Cerebrum. The cerebrum (supratentorial or front of brain) is composed of the right and left hemispheres. Functions of the cerebrum include: initiation of movement, coordination of movement, body temperature, touch, vision, hearing, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, emotions, and learning.
- Brainstem. The brainstem (midline or middle of brain) includes the midbrain, the pons, and the medulla. Functions of this area include: movement of the eyes and mouth, relaying sensory messages (such as hot, pain, and loud), hunger, respirations, consciousness, cardiac function, body temperature, involuntary muscle movements, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, and swallowing.
- Cerebellum. The cerebellum (infratentorial or back of brain) is located at the back of the head. Its function is to coordinate voluntary muscle movements and to maintain posture, balance, and equilibrium.
More specifically, other parts of the brain include the following:
Pons. A deep part of the brain, located in the brainstem, the pons contains many of the control areas for eye and face movements.
Medulla. The lowest part of the brainstem, the medulla is the most vital part of the entire brain and contains important control centers for the heart and lungs.
Spinal cord. A large bundle of nerve fibers located in the back that extends from the base of the brain to the lower back, the spinal cord carries messages to and from the brain and controls many reflexes.
Frontal lobe. The largest section of the brain located in the front of the head, the frontal lobe is involved in personality characteristics and movement.
Parietal lobe. The middle part of the brain, the parietal lobe helps a person to identify objects and understand spatial relationships (where one’s body is compared to objects around the person). The parietal lobe is also involved in interpreting pain and touch in the body.
Occipital lobe. The occipital lobe is the back part of the brain that is involved with vision.
Temporal lobe. The sides of the brain, these temporal lobes are involved in memory, speech, and sense of smell.
Indeed we are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. 🙂
My next clinical event, unless I get approved for the Vandy study or another one at WashU, is about 2 weeks before I Run til I’m Purple. I go back for the 4th visit there out of 5. That study is tied to investigating Statin drugs and their impact on muscles/exercise and the brain. I am an interesting case study for them. They do muscle biopsies most visits which involve a small slit cut into my thigh, then a grabber not unlike the long coily things you stick down in an engine to grab that pesky screw you dropped, being stuck into said hole to grab some muscle. They pull it out of the hole and snip off a little helping, then poke it back in and release it. It only hurts for about 5 seconds other than the local painkilling shots that numb it up. It feels like a charlie horse. The taped up hole seals up in a couple of days and leaves a very small scar. No big whoop….and it helps them a bunch as they try to solve these issues that are hurting seniors and their families…worth every snip.
Are you interested in joining me in tilting these windmills? Here is the best link to find something in your comfort zone, knowing that many, many of them are completely painless and non-invasive: Trial Match. If you would like to help pay for these kinds of things, donate to the Alzheimer’s Association or donate to my fundraiser and half will go to them and half to SeniorAge, our amazing non-profit who help tens of thousands of seniors every week.
This is a terrible disease, friends. I will go on doing whatever I can to rid it from our lives and finally #EndALZ
Update: Mom’s nose is looking better. She was more awake than normal Friday when I saw her. It was a sweet time to hang out at suppertime. 🙂
Here are a couple pictures I snagged from my stepdad’s phone that he took of her when she was all awake. :). I am hesitant to take many pictures these days because I would never want to dishonor her in any way, but these were precious. 🙂