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.

Neurosurgery101Twitter

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.

 

04/6/13

Download: A Rare Kind of Faith

This story was the grand prize winner in the 2002 Obadiah Press Writing Contest.

A Rare Kind of Faith
By Edison McDaniels

I knew there was nothing I could do as soon as I saw those films. One o’clock in the damn morning and raining, but the cold that came over me as I studied those images had nothing to do with either the night or the rain. It was the dread of knowing she was beyond any help modern medicine could offer.

She was going to die…

RareKindFaith

Thus begins this award winning tale of one physician’s lesson in life at the hands of a three year-old girl. From the mind of Edison McDaniels & based upon a true story.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE STORY AS A PDF.

Thanks for reading A RARE KIND OF FAITH.

03/15/13

The fiction world of Edison McDaniels

 

EPMwriter

 

What I write—And Why.

My writing has been repeatedly described as intense but engaging, as well as heart-breaking and—by at least one reviewer—absolutely fantastic.

I seem to thrive when working with ordinary folks in extraordinary circumstances. Think fiction at its most intense, life at its highest volume.

I write with a style that is both immediate and intense, bringing the reader into the moment or onto the battlefield, if you like. In The Crucible, I took readers into a 1951 operating room to watch as a surgeon worked to save the life of a little boy. In Not One Among Them Whole, my second novel, my canvas was a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. In The Burden, a supernatural medical thriller & my first novel (soon to be available as an eBook so watch for it!), we watched a surgeon come apart after the death of his young daughter. Later, he discovers a door to her afterlife—a door never meant to be opened. In my novella Blade Man, an itinerant scalpel salesman meets his worst nightmare on a lonely, snow bound, North Dakota highway. In Juicing Out, another of my favorite novellas, a surgeon’s already difficult night gets worse—much worse—when he gets home. Hint: have you ever tried to change the battery in your smoke detector?

I know of no other way to write than with intensity, like a fire fighter telling of his time inside a burning building while the soot and snot are still running heavy from his nose. We all know it’d be hot inside that building, but what about the sparks burning through your clothes and biting at your skin, the close sweat stinging your eyes until blindness threatens, the raspy sound of your ventilator with every suck of breath you take. How about the feel—cool? refreshing?—of the oxygen blowing into your face mask? And what does the fire sound like? Can you hear anything else? Your own pulse maybe?

I believe anybody with an interest in medicine and surgery, or who likes shows such as Law & Order or CSI will like my stories. If you’ve ever wanted to ‘open the door’ to see what goes on in the operating room, pick up Not One Among Them Whole.

If you are the kind of person who might like being a voyeur in the emergency room, even for just a short time, you’ll find much of what’s here interesting, even compelling.

Yet, despite all of the intensity alluded to above, there is a certain grace to my words. The writing is, simply put, beautiful.

Some of my favorite authors include Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian is nothing short of brilliant), Stephen King (especially his earlier books — he is always a great storyteller, but for my money his best pure story is Delores Claiborne, followed closely by Salem’s Lot & Pet SemataryFull Dark, No Stars is his best recent story collection and it rocks), Nevil Shute (read A Town Called Alice, nothing beats it for sheer storytelling, but just about every novel he ever wrote is worth picking up; there are 26 I believe, most centered around events which occurred during WWII; if you are one of those into apocalyptic fiction, as I am, On The Beach is a must read), Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain is pure artistry), and, of course, Michael Shaara & The Killer Angels (as good as the legend says it is).

Bruce Catton’s Centennial History of the Civil War (The Coming Fury, Terrible Swift Sword, and Never Call Retreat) is second only to Shelby Foote’s three volume epic history The Civil War: A Narrative. I highly recommend Shelby Foote.

There are five works I would recommend for those interested in the suffering war brings, and all are tough reads but worth every effort:

The first is Stalingrad, by Theodore Plievier. This is a brutally terrifying novel of life amid war. There is no greater depiction of the suffering wrought by war so far as I am aware. Written in 1948. It is not available as an eBook. If you can find it, buy it. Note: there are a number of books named Stalingrad or some version thereof. Look for the author.

The second is Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor. Probably the best Civil War novel ever written, though not widely read today. A long book at over 750 pages. If you stick with it, you will not be disappointed. In fact, you may well consider it the best book you have ever read. Nuff said.

The third is also called Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943, by Antony Beevor. This is not a novel but a history of the Battle of Stalingrad and stands alone as perhaps the finest account of that terrible siege ever written. An acclaimed book. Highly recommended if nonfiction is what you are looking for.

City of Thieves, by David Benioff is a recent novel of life in Leningrad during the WWII. Very good and a much easier read. Highly recommended.

Finally, I would recommend Ulysses S. Grant’s Presidential Memoir. Widely considered the best of all presidential memoirs, highly readable despite being two volumes. This is his account of the Civil War. He finished it only days before his death.

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog, thanks for supporting me. And thanks for reading my fiction.

02/23/13

Five Star Review from Amazon Top Reviewer

5.0 Out of 5 Stars By a Top Amazon Reviewer!

A must for Civil War buffs! January 22, 2013

By P. B. Sharp (NM) – See all my reviews

(TOP 500 REVIEWER) (VINE VOICE) (REAL NAME)

This review is from: NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE: A Novel of Gettysburg (Kindle Edition)

Gettysburg, 1863. Once a meadow of golden wheat, now a playing field of horror, where men were programmed to play a part, to play a position. If their part was to die, they did. If their part was to heal others, they did. North and South came together in an unholy skirmish in which men were drained and bled and left somewhere on that playing field shattered in body and in mind. It was dog eat dog to the men in blue and grey- kill or be killed. “The only real commodity was suffering and the only true coin was death.”

The surgeons working in unspeakable conditions, perhaps in an old church or in an abandoned shed had to resort to ingenuity, such as making a splint from the bone of a dead horse, or creating a tube into a soldier’s shattered windpipe by wrapping a wire tightly around the neck of a bottle, breaking the bottle and gently inserting the wire in place. Author McDaniels is a surgeon and he takes you there, takes you into the heat of battle and introduces you to the horrors that were Gettysburg.

The novel is built around vignettes. McDaniel’s fine Civil War novel is not the world of Robert E. Lee or Ulysses S. Grant or even Abraham Lincoln. McDaniel’s Gettysburg is a microcosm, a seething world of its own from which no player escapes. The reader follows the characters as they play their parts in the murky tapestry of civil war. There will be a price to pay, not only death but indignity, the exposure of the souls of those who survived. Gettysburg is a very level playing field.

Plying his trade of undertaker, Jupiter Jones, an elderly black man who had graduated from being a snake oil salesman to a salesman of another sort- making the dead look decent. Jupiter is perhaps the most interesting character in the book. Wearing an old green bowler atop his head and always accompanied by a small monkey named Archimedes, Jupiter would set about transforming the cadaver beneath his hands into something that almost -at least Jupiter thought so-resembled life. Pumping some sort of arsenic mixture into the body, Jupiter would affectionately pinch the corpse’s cheeks like one would pinch a child, tuck a wad of chewing tobacco inside if the dead soldier’s yellow-stained hands revealed tobacco use. Snake oil, a concoction garnered long ago from trees in Africa was applied to the open eyes, plumping them out. Jupiter waxed philosophical, talking to the doctors laboring beside him, talking to the bodies. “The dead talk to me” he remarks even though “nobody gets out of life alive.” Although the doctors work with the living, and Jupiter with the dead, somehow the macabre rituals are the same.

The surgeons, laboring under unspeakable conditions, using the altar of an old church as an operating table, can only push their weary bodies so far. Author- surgeon McDaniels does not spare the reader. Throughout the novel the horrendous wounds and their infinite variety and the procedures of the embattled surgeons are described in great detail. Perhaps the most interesting surgical operation concerns the trepanning of a young soldier who had been shot in the head. Surgeon Hardy had made the appalling discovery that the barely- alive boy was his own son but Hardy could not force himself to operate, so Doctor Boyd, although addicted to laudanum, performs the very tricky drilling into the boy’s skull. What makes the medical narrative so authoritative is, of course, due to the author’s expertise. But the information has to be honed to fit the appalling conditions, where instruments were never sterilized, where doctors could not wash their hands, where the floor of the operating theater was slimey with mud and gore. Doctor McDaniels will take you there.

On the battle field two soldiers fall together side by side, one a Yankee, the other a Rebel. The two former enemies are bonded together in misery and indeed they do bond in extremis, giving each other comfort by reciting the Beatitudes. The Yankee boy, Ezra Coffin, manages after great effort as each physical move is agony to get the Rebel’s gun, thinking that he can kill them both to put them out of their misery. But there is only one ball left in the gun’s chamber…

What goes around comes around, even in war, even in tragedy. Good springs from evil and author McDaniels will bring his novel to a satisfying close. Perhaps, when you finish the book you will find yourself thinking of Gettysburg not so much as a shrine but a place where humans suffered horribly and where the healed America rose- I will say it- like a phoenix from the ashes.