10/26/16

What’s it all about

Welcome!

It’s About So Much More Than Brain Surgery.

It’s About Life.
We’ve even got videos.

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Neurosurgery 101—TheBlog is about life and some of its harder or more interesting moments. If you have ever wondered how a craniotomy is done, or how hydrocephalus is treated, or what surgeons listen to in the OR (they listen to stuff?!)—you’ll find this blog interesting. It’s for the lay person, the medically-minded person, or anybody with just a little bit of interest in the goings on of the body human, or the human body in disease. It’s about what happens when things go wrong and how we—those of us in medicine—pick up the pieces. When I talk about this stuff, it’s nonfiction. It’s a case of truth is stranger than fiction.

But it’s more than that too. Sometimes I post reviews. These might be about books, like Peter Clines awesome sci fi techno thriller The Fold.  Other times my reviews are about personal experiences, like my unfortunate several days with The Flu in 2012.  Sometimes I answer questions people ask me, like What is a pinched nerve? or Can a person break their neck without becoming paralyzed?

And of course, there’s the fiction. I love fiction and read constantly. You’ll never find me without a book in hand—unless I’ve got a pen for writing. Fiction, both reading and writing, is my #1 passion. You’ll find lots of cool fiction here. 

What you won’t find here is medical advice. I am not practicing medicine online. I also won’t be talking about specific patients. Not even close. Privacy is the law of the land and I believe strongly in it, especially when it comes to one’s health.

Some things I may cover in the not too distant future, or that you might just find cool right now:

What is a pinched nerve and how do you ‘unpinch’ it?

Why does my back hurt so much? Check out this awesome 11 minute video on back pain.

What is sciatica?

When is back pain treated with surgery?

What is a lumbar fusion and how is it done…

How do you open a living skull?

What is hydrocephalus?

What is a concussion?

Can you really operate on the brain with a patient awake?

Can a person break their neck and not be paralyzed?

Is there suppose to be fluid draining out of my back after surgery?

Well, you get the idea. There’s a super amount of information here, some fiction and some nonfiction. I talk a lot about my books and stories too. The interested writer can get a pretty good feel for where I get my ideas and how my stories evolved. For everyone else though, it’s just damn interesting. So come back often and don’t forget to sign-up for updates.

And if you like the writing here, you’re gonna love my many novels, novellas, and short stories. Hop on over to Amazon for a look at my fiction RIGHT NOW. Or read about the stories using the menu at the top of the page. I would suggest you start with THE WRITING.

BooksHeader

CWHeaderNEUROSURGERY101— TheBlog. Life on the edge of a scalpel. For those who have ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors of the operating room, or the innards of the human body.

NEUROSURGERY 101— TheBlog. Because, outside of a dog, books are a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog…well, that’s what this blog is gonna find out.

NEUROSURGERY101— TheBlog. Because nobody gets out of life alive.

 

03/13/13

The Definition of Neurosurgery

The Definition of Neurosurgery
as defined by the American Board of Neurological Surgery

NSurgery Definition

 

02/17/13

Introduction to Hydrocephalus Owner’s Manual

Introduction to The Hydrocephalus Owner’s Manual

I am a brain surgeon.

rod thru skullSeveral years ago, I was confronted with a young man in the emergency room who had earlier that morning been found unconscious by his college roommates. In fact, when I met him he was essentially comatose, that is, unresponsive in any meaningful way. Fortunately, one of his roommates recalled something about him having a shunt. With this piece of information, the emergency physician quickly called for a stat head CT and a diagnosis of shunt malfunction was made. I was called, took the patient to surgery for an emergent shunt revision, and he recovered and lived happily ever after.

Well almost. It turned out he was a college student and the ordeal left him rather exhausted, though neurologically normal, and he would spend several months recovering from his near death experience. His mother, who lived in a city 160 miles away, drove over immediately and was waiting for me when I came out of the operating room. I have seldom seen a mother so grateful as that woman—unless it be virtually every other mother I have ever dealt with as a neurosurgeon.

Largely because of their children, parents are special people.

The bond between parent and child is like no other. I have seen octogenarians break down while recalling the death of a forty-year-old son or daughter—never mind that the death occurred fifteen years before. Perhaps the only bond in all of nature that can never be fully broken, it continues beyond divorce, separation, abandonment, illness, and even death. At its best, the parent-child bond drives us to be our best, to meet our full potential. Even when it is missing, entire lives are predicated, even formulated, on the basis of such a loss.

Almost without exception, the parents I meet would gladly exchange places with their child in these moments of extreme stress. These parents feel helpless and at the mercy of the situation. I am often asked What could I have done? Or Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? 

I know the feeling.

I am a brain surgeon. I am also a parent. Several years ago, my oldest son died suddenly. In my years on this earth I have lost people close to me—a brother, a half-brother, both parents, several close friends—but all of their deaths paled in comparison to losing a child of my own. It was and remains the single most difficult event of my life, the defining moment if you will.

A bond which cannot be broken.

Which brings me to the first subject of this blog.

Hydrocephalus—loosely defined as a build-up of fluid in the brain—is a life-threatening, fairly common, and relatively easily treated condition. Unfortunately, with existing medical technology, the treatment requires a lifelong diligence on the part of loved ones as well as the patient himself/herself. But that being said, the treatment is not onerous on a daily basis and the benefits are dramatic. Most patients with hydrocephalus live normal lives in virtually every respect. They play sports (even extreme ones), marry, have regular jobs, carry babies through labor and delivery, and die as an old man or woman (or at least we expect they will—the technology is only fifty or so years old and thus people shunted as young children are only now reaching late middle age). With the possible exception of the more remote parts of Alaska, if you live in the United States you almost certainly have at least one friend, acquaintance, student, or co-worker with a vp shunt—though you may not know it.

So why this blog?

Because, to put it in the simplest terms possible, failure to recognize a shunt malfunction can be fatal. The boy I took care of above had failed to get out of bed for class one morning. When his roommates returned home for lunch, they found him unresponsive and still in bed. They called an ambulance and he was taken to my hospital, where a CT of the brain showed the problem. He received prompt medical attention—but only belatedly and it nearly cost him is life.

Had his roommates known the gravity of his failure to arise that morning, his brush with death would likely have been avoided. His mother recognized this fact. She knew how close to the edge he had come. She was one of those who asked What could I have done? Is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again?

The advice I gave her became the substance of the first subject I shall discuss in this blog. Call it Hydrocephalus: An Owner’s Manual.

One more thing. Neurosurgery 101 ~ The Blog isn’t only about neurosurgery, or surgery. It’s about life. I’ll periodically post other things here, like reviews of books, interesting articles, and maybe a few other things besides. Whatever enters my head I guess. So come back often. It should be interesting.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is simply that, information. I am not doling out specific medical advice. Nothing contained herein is meant to replace a complete evaluation by a qualified member of the medical establishment