Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Bed

I was having one of those days when I just wanted to crawl back into bed and go back to sleep. So I did.

Next blog--I get my Blackbelt!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pacifica Book Signing

I'm having a book signing event tomorrow (Saturday, 10/16) at Florey's Bookstore in Pacifica. Jean Bartlett, of the Pacifica Tribune wrote a fantastic article about me, my book, and this event. I wish I could hire her to do all my PR!

The article begins like this:

Why didn't the brain want to take a bath? It didn't want to be brainwashed. What kind of fish performs brain surgery? A neurosturgeon.

While long-time Pacifican Shari Bookstaff knows from personal experience that "brain surgery" is no laughing matter, she also knows that humor can be found even after a life altering brain tumor.

She writes on her YouTube PowerPoint presentation "The 10 best things about having a brain tumor include I get to say, 'It's not like it's brain surgery,' and mean it!" The Bookstaff PowerPoint ( is highlighted by the chipper vocals of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter.

Bookstaff's journey down this unplanned road began quietly enough. It was in April of 2006 when the marine biologist and Skyline College biology professor (since 1990) and single mother of Abby and Andy, began feeling dizzy and nauseous.

"I continued to go to work every day, but my nausea kept getting worse, to the point that I was throwing up daily," Bookstaff said, adding that the closest analogy is morning sickness or seasickness.

In April of 2006, Bookstaff was told "it" was just vertigo. Keeping to her schedule but feeling worse each day, Bookstaff was given the same diagnosis in May and in June. Reluctantly on July 1, 2006, the professor went to an Ears Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). Among other things, she learned she had some hearing loss on her left side.

"I hadn't noticed," Bookstaff said. "I mean, I preferred to use my right ear on the phone, but who doesn't have a preferred 'phone ear'?"

Sunday, October 10, 2010


The other day during chair exercises of my APE class, Chip directed one of his "regular" students to do what I could only describe as a "superman" push-up. The next day, during my work out, I inadvertently mentioned to Chip that I could do push-ups on the floor.

"Come with me."

Chip led me into the gym and told me to put my feet up on a bench, with my hands on the floor, in push-up position.


"Put your feet on the bench and your hands on the floor, in push-up position."

At first I thought Chip had gone crazy, or had something weird for lunch, but the look in his eye told me he was serious. So, I did it. Once I was in that position, with my hands supporting my weight on the floor, and my feet on the bench, I thought my arms would collapse and my face would slam into the floor. It didn't. Chip didn't make me do a push-up. He made me lift one leg at a time, bend my leg, and twist it under my body.

There is no one else in the world who could have made me get in that very compromising position. While part of me was thinking, "He's crazy!  I can't do this!," another part of me was thinking, "Well, if Chip thinks I can do this, I guess I can do this."

That's POWER!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Beginning today, I am embarking on a book tour that will take me across the country, and, perhaps, all around the world. Virtually. I’m going on a “virtual book tour” through a company called Pump Up Your Book.  You can follow along as I post guest blogs and am interviewed throughout the blogosphere (yes, of course that’s a real word!)

In preparation for this tour, I have answered the question, “What made you want to write a book?”

At some point during my nine-month hospital stay, I decided to write a book about my experience. I had toyed with the idea of writing a novel a few years earlier: a murder mystery set at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin. It was going to incorporate a lot of scientific evidence, presented in a way that was fun, and even a bit chilling.

In the hospital, with nothing but my mind for company, I thought about how I would write a book. The rehabilitation center I was at specialized in brain injuries, and it was suggested to me that I write stories about the twelve patients staying there with me. My speech and physical writing skills were coming along very slowly at the time, so I wasn't up for conducting interviews.

I came home at the end of March 2007. I wasn't walking, driving, or working. Going to outpatient therapy kept me busy during the day. My kids kept me busy at night.

Writing the book started with long emails that I wrote to friends in the middle of the night. I had always been able to express my feelings better through writing than through talking--and express them I did!

By January 2009, I had read the entire Harry Potter series twice and I was ready to go back to work. I started going to an Adaptive Physical Education class at my college, helping in labs, and giving guest lectures. The busier I got, the more I did! I realized my experiences may be valuable enough to share. Those emails I wrote to friends in the middle of the night were a start. I divided my thoughts into "chapters" and got started. Once I had enough, I looked for a publisher. Publish America called me to tell me they accepted my story for publication at the beginning of 2009. Once I had a publisher (and a deadline), I set daily writing goals for myself. I went through my medical records (a two-foot high stack) and legal records for dates and names of medical procedures. I also interviewed friends to get parts of my story that I wasn't "there" for.

I finished the book in June of 2009, and it was published in October 2009.