Saturday, July 14, 2007

After thirty years please bear with me as my memory of some dates and some names are blurred or forgotten in time.

We had a beautiful home, business was going well. we had just given b irth to our fourth child.

The pain that Jean had been experiencing was getting worse. Her head was now permanently pulled to one side. I believe the medical term is a tortacolis. (spelling?).

The doctors at the local clinic tried any number of palliatives to ease the pain and relax the muscles. Over months things only seemed to get worse.

I had watched my father succumb to emphesema trusting my mother who was usually proactive to be the point person. We had options open that were not explored. Whether they would have helped is open. There was a comment by a doctor friend that my father may have been the victim of "bad doctoring".

With this in mind I resolved not to be passive in this instance.

I called a friend who was doing a residency in Portland to discuss what to do next. He suggested a Dr. Parsons, a neurosurgeon whom he felt would give me a competent and conservative diagnosis.

Dr. Parsons was the "hands" associate to Dr. John Raaf who had joined the staff of the University of Oregon Medical School in1936 and was considered the father of their neurosurgery department. Dr. Raaf had done surgery on my grandfather B thirty years before as well as Aunt Dorothy in the early 1960's. He was actually in his day one of the most renowned neurosurgeons in the country and had been on call to participate in the treatment of President Kennedy following his being shot.

With this team I felt secure that we were in good hands.

We signed in to Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

The first room assigned to Jean was in the opthamology area. I mention this only for the then new technique of cataract removal patients post surgery were forced to lie with sandbags to prevent any head movement for two or three days after surgery.

With the laser surgery done today people are permitted to go home shortly after the procedure is completed.

Again, this was February, 1974. OPEC was cutting the flow of petroleum products. From Jean's room on the fourth floor of the hospital I could see cars lined in blocks long ques at the Shell station several blocks away.

After Jean was moved to the neurosurgery floor a series of tests were done and the packet I had brought from Walla Walla was examined. The diagnosis was a brain tumor.

Surgery was scheduled.

I returned to Walla Walla. Lyle Baden was watching the store for me as Uncle Dave was in Palm Springs and my mother was baby sitting with our four children.

On the night before the surgery I drove back to Portland. Les Lammers was able to fill the 28 gallon tank of the Cadillac. There was a service station in Hood River that was able to fill my tank and another near the hotel in Portland where if I were first in line, I could fill the tank.

I walked with Jean's gurney to the doors of the surgery.

After a long, long wait Doctor Parsons appeared in the surgery waiting room.

Good news! There was no tumor only an anomaly of the bony structure of the skull requiring a rerouting of some nerves.

Good news? This was only the beginning.


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