And his name was Flower…

Posted Thursday February 09, 2012 by Melissa

Brain maze

Santa brought Case a pink-nosed Zhu Zhu pet for Christmas. Case runs like lightening, pretending that the hamster is after him when he activates it and the crazy thing starts that [annoying] chirp-chirp-chirping that they do.

Zhu Zhu petI recently asked Case what his name was.

And he replied, “Flower. His name is Flower.”

Now Case usually names things their animal name, like a bird is named “Bird”, so I don’t know what I was expecting for a Zhu Zhu er… hamster, but this name was not among them. So I pondered it for a moment.

And then it brought me back to about 7th grade.

And it literally, brought me to my knees.

Flowers for Algernon, it was called.

Flowers for AlgernonFor many of you, that’s all I need to say for you to understand where I am going.

Charlie and Algernon. It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of them. When I read it, I never thought that I would consider it in the context of my own child’s life. It is a heartbreaking and thought-provoking read that has been quite controversial over the years.

A clinical trial. A drug. The brain of a cognitively impaired person. Improvement. Decline. And most sadly, knowledge of the impending decline. I don’t think I’ll be reading it again anytime soon.

What’s ironic is that it tracks along a conversation that I had with Case’s doctor recently.

“Have you seen the movie Awakenings?”


Robin Williams plays Dr. Sayer, who discovers a drug to awaken his catatonic patients, an effect later learned to be temporary. Robert De Niro is Leonard Lowe, one such patient.

“Yes, I have.”

[long pause] “Can that happen here? Could the drug just stop working and Case goes back to how he was?”

Suffice it to say, logically, one would never expect it to stop working. The enzyme breaks down the GAGs in his brain as they build up, allowing his brain to function better. It should continue to break them down over time.

But logic often doesn’t walk hand-in-hand with emotion. And these are among the thoughts that go hand-in-hand with experimenting with the brain. Which is what we are doing here, don’t be mistaken. I’ve noted before in my personal blog that I’ve asked myself whether there is a downside to what is happening.

There may be, but the upside is way better.

Case will get to keep his Flower.

And I’ll try to stop thinking of Charlie and Algernon and Leonard.



This post was born from thoughts I would have rather kept off the page. But in the interest of telling the whole story, here they are.


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