I’ll be the first to tell you: I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in UFO’s. And I don’t believe in spirits. So how do you explain this (true) story?
In the summer of 1972 my, father, grandfather, brother and sister drove down to St. Louis from Cleveland. My uncle lived in St.Louis, along with his wife (my favorite Aunt Mary) and kids. Uncle Eddy lived in an 100-year-old house.
It was a big place, with three floors, a central stair case and maybe five or six bedrooms. It was a cool house and had a back stair well, basement and back porch too.
I was 20 years old, full of energy, and I’d bound up the stairs two a time. One day I was running up the front stairs, intending to go to one of the bed rooms. When I reached the top, I saw the door to the third floor. I had absolutely no intention of going to the third floor, but when I saw that door, I instantly changed my mind, and ran up tat third flight. At the top I made a180 degree turn to my right.
What I saw will remain imbedded in my mind. It was an old man with long hair, all grey in color. He was sitting qt a desk and there was a window behind him.
He looked at me in a surprised fashion, as if he was not expecting to see me.
Without a word he got up, and walked out through the window.
I can’t explain what I saw. I went down stairs and told my dad. He laughed then he realized how shook up I was.
Did you really see that he asked? Yes, I replied, that is what I saw.
To this day I can not explain it. Whenever I think of it, I get goose bumps.
But that’s what I saw, And that is a true story.
This particular blog is not about me, but is about a family friend, Courtney Miller. Courtney is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at Boston University. She is an oboist. The amount of dedication and work she puts into this is simpy amazing. I’ve never met anyone as dedicated as she. I know professors, doctors, engineers, but none of this people show this dedication.
Focused, intent, well-spoken and talented. Do I sound like a fan? You betcha!
So if you enjoy classical music please check out her music video. You’ll be glad you did. Doug
It appears that everything went just swimmingly. Head doc came up and said the electrodes are exactly where they thought they should be for maximum benefit. Now I have to get the pacemaker implanted and the wires run down to it. Right now the wires are in a little pile similar to a coiled snake or garden hose under my scalp.
Head doc told me that if you have just one side of the brain done, they keep you for just one day after surgery. But because I had both sides done, he wanted to keep me two days. He got no argument from me! I was asleep almost the whole day Wednesday.
However, I was awake in the morning and also late afternoon. In the morning I sent Darlene a flower basket. I thought it would be a nice surprise for her. Soon after I sent them, a (female) nurse’s aid came into my room and said she was there to remove my catheter.
In another life I had been an orderly at Wood County Hospital and so I was familiar with the process. I was curious about how much it was going to hurt. The first step is to Release the fluid holding it inside your bladder. I can’t over emphasis the importance of this! You might think it would be impossible to pull it out otherwise, but you would be wrong. Trust me, I know this.
Anyway, she deflated the balloon and told me to take a deep breath. I did, and she pulled.
Guys, it ain’t (sic) that bad. A friend once said: “Wait until they shove a camera up there to take pictures of your bladder. Then you’ll know what hurts!” Note to my friend: Been there, done that. Got a Tee shirt.
So it was a little anticlimactic.
Soon after that a delivery guy showed up from the same place I ordered Darlene’s flowers. I excitedly exclaimed: “Wait!, wait! Those aren’t for me! Those are supposed to go to someone else!”
The guy looked at the address and said “You are Mr. Bahniuk, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but who would send me flowers?”
“I don’t know sir. Here’s the card.”
It said: “Congratulations on becoming a Cyborg!” Love Brigette.
It was the second time in two days that my kids made me cry.
Once again they woke me and as promised, Dr. Weightlifter did his thing with my body: Jerking my joints, flexing my hands and feet, grabbing my arm and jerking it downward. Lest you think that he didn’t care about me, he told me he knew my left arm just had the shoulder replaced, and he would be careful with it.
Then it was time for the shocking torture. They zapped me several times, the story being essentially the same as before: zapping, adjusting the electrodes, zapping again and finally shooting me with the CAT scan. The head doc indicated he was quite pleased with the results.
Then once again it was Darlene’s turn to try her program. I made the strongest effort I could, sometimes closing one eye, moving my eyeballs to focus on different spots of the monitor, and so on and so forth.
And I was able to complete portions of the test! I was happy! I was able to get several grades of “Excellent”. Even the portions where I jumped the gun or was judged “too slow to start” contributed meaning full data. So I was very happy.
The head doc told Darlene to put away her toys and then told me they were closing my wound. He said it would take another 20 minutes or so. I think I passed out again, because the next thing I remember was groaning because of the pain from the nasal cannulae. Some guy was pulling it out, telling me to relax. Attached to the cannulae was a huge blood clot. When he finally got that out the pain decreased dramatically, but the nurses seemingly recoiled in horror.
Not long after that, my wife Alissa showed up. She fed me ice chips; I was so thirsty, I had her shoveling in my mouth as fast as she could. Alissa also brought my cell phone and I called a bunch of friends, telling them about the operation. Of course, I don’t remember talking to many of them, a downside of “happy juice”.
So my answer to the question (all though never actually posed as one) is yes, the surgery is tough. But it has given me a new life, new hope, and new energy. Thank you John, Darlene, “head doc”, “Dr. Weightlifter”, and the many others that helped me.
In my eyes it is a miracle and you are heroes that made it happen.
After the head doc was satisfied with the electrode placement he turned to me and said: “Douglas I have a very important question for you.”
Sometimes, things flash through your brain. When he said this, I thought he was going to make a joke. This thought was not quite as ludicrous as it sounds. The head doc did have a great sense of humor. At one point during the operation we were talking and I (admittedly with some braggadocio) said I had ridden my bicycle across the United States.
The head doc replied: “Douglas, I have done a similar thing. ”
I excitedly replied “Yes! You have?”
“Yes he said. I have ridden in an airplane across the United States!” The whole OR, including me, burst out laughing.
So the thought of him making a joke was not without merit. But he was serious.
He addressed me. “Douglas, you have been here about three hours. If we do the right side of your brain you will be here another three hours. Do you want us to do the other side of your brain?”
I can not say I said it without hesitation, because that damn cannulae was really burning in my nose, and my right eye had a lot of mucus or junk in it (one of the reasons I could not see Darlene’s monitor) but I said “Yes. Do the other half.”
“Douglas, are you sure? There will be more shocks, Dr. Weightlifter will manipulate your body again and we have to drill another hole in your head.”
I thought about my “halo” and how much it hurt. I just wanted to get this over with; I never wanted to go through it again. If I declined, i’d be right back here in a few months.
“Yes!! Do it!”
“Ok Douglas, we will do it.”
And I lost consciousness again.
The reason for the shocks is the doctor is trying to find the optimum spot in my brain to place the electrode. This was a combination of the shocks, the doctors listening to my neurons as they fired, and reflex responses to various inputs. For example, the doctors told me to relax as much as possible and then pushed and pulled on my limbs and my shoulders. These were not gentle movements, the guy that was manipulating my body looked like a weight lifter. He would jerk me around, and everyone in the OR (about 20 people) had to be quiet so he could hear the sounds coming from the speakers.
During all this, I had a problem. This is what it was: My right nostril felt like it was burning. I asked Dr. Weight-lifter (not his real name) to check out the oxygen cannulae. He said it was fine, but the damn thing was burning like hell.
Finally the head (that’s head as in lead) doctor thought he had the electrodes in the right position. He told everyone to clear out of the room, because he was going to do a CAT scan. The place went dead as everyone scurried out. It reminded me of a game of “hide and seek” for some reason.
Through out this ordeal, Darlene comforted me. She rubbed my hand. She talked with me, her voice calming me. (Toby Cosgrove, if you ever read this, I recommend you have someone in the room doing just that: calming the patient.) At some point in this I was thinking of my son, Jim. I love Jim. What a great guy! As I lay there I sarted crying. Darlene asked me what was wrong? I told her how I loved him. She wiped my tears.
Once the head doc thought every thing was OK he turned the show over to Darlene. It was time for her to conduct her study. She set up the game. And wouldn’t you know it? I could not see the monitor! If there was one person in that room I wanted to please, it was her. But if you can’t see the monitor, obviously you can’t play the game. She fussed with it for ten minutes or so and then the head doc told her we had to move on.
John replied: “I’m sorry Doug, but that’s the way they have to be. In fact, they need to be tighter. Do you need a break?”
“Yes, give me a few moments here.” John stopped. I took some deep breaths. ”Ok, now just screw them home.” I could hear crunching noises coming from my skull. If you look at the photo you can see the blood weeping from under the bolts.
My friend through-out this ordeal was Darlene. She chatted with me during the fitting, trying to keep my mind off of what was happening. I knew what she was doing and was perfectly fine with it.
After the “halo” was on my wife took the photo you see, laughing that it would the only time I would be an angel. Then it was time for another CAT scan, and down to the OR. In the operating room my head was immobilized by a mechanical device of some sort. The anesthesiologist introduced herself and placed an oxygen cannulae under my nose. The doctor asked me which side I wanted done first: right or left. It was a question I’d never thought about. I said left, because that was the side that the Parkinsons first affected. The doctor asked me if I was right-handed, and maybe I wanted that side done first?
I admit that made me feel stupid. Doing the right side first was the obvious choice. I felt as if I had flunked an exam.
“Ok. We will do the left side of the brain first.” (The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.)
Then In the next moment I was out cold.
I have no idea how long I was out. I could hear some one calling to me to wake up and did I feel some thing on my right side? “What am I supposed to be feeling ?” I asked.
“Douglas, do you feel a shock, a tingling?”
“Ok, we can go deeper: 14, 15. Douglas, do you feel that?” I could feel a little something. Then I felt it: A BIG honking shock. My eyes rolled backwards in my head. I groaned.
One doctor shouts something like “He’s going ocular!”
Someone else says “Good! Very good!”
I’m flopping around like a fish and this guy says “Good.” Whata wack job.